4 Benefits of Writing by Hand

You often hear the many benefits of electronic planning. However, writing things out by hand has its place, as well as some surprising benefits beyond just putting words on paper.

1. Information Retention

fountain penIf you’re learning new information, taking notes by hand works better than typing it out on the computer. When your brain focuses, it activates the Reticular Activating System, or RAS, and filters out extra information, like noise from fluorescent lights, the feel of your shoes on your feet, or stray thoughts. When you write, the physical motions stimulate the RAS, helping you focus on the information you’re writing.

A survey from the Two Sides global initiative also found that “88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper compared to lower percentages (64% and less) when reading on electronic devices.  The same trend was found for reading complicated documents with 80% indicating a clear preference for reading print on paper, and reading on screens showing a much lower preference than print at below 16% across all age groups.”

2. Health

Another section from the Two Sides survey found the following: “62% of mobile or smartphone users, 59% of computer users and 50% of e-reader users are worried that these devices may be damaging their health (ex: eyestrain, headaches, insomnia).  Reading in print had the least health concerns with 22% concerned that it may be damaging their health.”

3. Cognitive Function

Even if you’ve left the classroom behind long ago, writing by hand can still have an impact on your life.  According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that writing activates your motor-skills, memory, and more, making it a good cognitive exercise for those who want to keep their minds sharp as they age.

4. Writing Content

A 2009 study from the University of Washington found that elementary school students who wrote essays with a pen not only wrote more than their keyboard-tapping peers, but they also wrote faster and in more complete sentences. So it’s no surprise that many famous authors, including Stephen King, Susan Sontag, and Truman Capote, wrote the first drafts of their novels out on paper. With a deeper focus on your words and extended time to write each sentence, writing by hand keeps your train of thought on track.

If you find yourself having trouble remembering meeting notes, or if you’re stuck on Chapter 1 in your memoir, try writing it out by hand. Your mind and your goals will thank you.

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