The Classic Writer: The Benefits of Handwriting for Everyone
I’ve been writing since I was about twelve or thirteen years old. When I first started, all of my stories were handwritten on some old college ruled paper left over at the end of the school year. I must have written hundreds of pages when I was young.
School was the only place I had access to a computer. So, I’d stay after school for a little while everyday and I’d type up my stories or create new ones. While typing things out was definitely faster, I knew there was something lost by not putting pencil to paper.
Now, as a professional, all the writing I’ve done in the last ten years or so has always been at a keyboard. But lately, I’ve gone back to writing by hand a little bit. There’s something peaceful about the classic way of writing that just somehow feels better than taping on plastic keys for hours on end. And it appears that science backs me up on that feeling.
Unfortunately, STEM-based learning (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is helping to essentially erase the need for handwriting to be taught in schools, opting for school aged children to learn how to type versus being able to write in cursive. However, is this a wise move on the part of schools? Should kids still learn how to write the old fashioned way before they start typing? As my old computer teacher once told me when he was teaching me HTML: “I’m showing you how to do it the hard way so you can appreciate the easy way.”
The Benefits of Classic Handwriting
Learning is Much Easier - If you’ve ever written anything down and found it was easier to remember things later, you can thank the reticular activating system for that. The RAS is the part of your brain that activates when you’re actively working on something. It essentially filters out everything that’s unnecessary and makes you focus on the task at hand. As writing by hand requires a lot of focus as well as physical coordination, it’s easier for you to remember things you wouldn’t have remembered by just typing.
A Great Stress Reliever - As anyone who keeps a journal with attest, getting your thoughts down on a paper can help you destress at the end of the day. As part of a pre-sleep regime, take the time to write down the things still on your mind at the end of the day such as tasks you didn’t get done that you want to work on the next day. You can also write down positive and negative events of the day so you aren’t lying in bed dwelling on them.
Become Even More Creative - As writing by hand requires much more mental focus and dexterity than typing, it should come as no surprise that it also helps boost creativity. For children, this means they can unlock more of their imagination and become better storytellers. For writers, it helps them expand their already creative processes and open up possibilities to tell stories in different ways or even to express themselves in a much more clear tone. Basically, if you’re suffering from writer’s block, write by hand instead of typing.
Say What You Mean Easier - If you’re someone who needs to work in social media, you understand the importance of being able to write clearly and develop a voice. When you’re handwriting your thoughts beforehand, you’re better able to find the words you want to say before you post them for the world to see.
Decreasing Anxiety and Depression - In a previous blog on stress, we spoke about the increasing epidemic of young people suffering from anxiety and depression. Writing by hand has been known to ease symptoms by allowing a person to jot down all the things causing them mental anguish. By using handwriting as an outlet, it prevents the person from simply running these thoughts over and over in their mind like a broken record, essentially making their condition worse.
Handwritten Lists are Better - While phones and computers have given us easy opportunities to to jot things down quickly, there is still a lot to be said about the old fashioned way of making lists. Picking up a pen and jotting down the things you need to on a notebook or tablet will likely help you remember things far better than typing. It’s even more effective when done at the end of the day since you’re likely to be recalling all the things you didn’t get to do during the day that will need to get done tomorrow. Best of all, you’ll never have to worry about plugging in a spiral notebook or legal tablet.
- Less Technology, More Privacy - People tend to overshare and don’t realize it. Writing down your thoughts on your social media page isn’t exactly private and not safe if there are things you don’t want to share. Keeping a personal journal is far safer. There’s no need to worry about passwords, battery life, or websites being down when you keep your thoughts in a journal versus on a computer.