Gone are the days we sat down with our biro pens, finely sharpened pencils, and blank sheets of paper to jot down our ideas and drafts for that next big novel.
Technology has long since replaced longhand writing, with typewriters, iPads, iMacs, laptop computers, and desktops being the things for writers to “tappity tap” on.
Sure, computerized devices are much quicker—and, of course, you don’t have to worry about the dreaded hand cramp after writing for only a short duration of time … plus you can partially rely on spellcheck to alert you to those silly little grammar mistakes.
With the click of a button, your work is saved and stored in a folder of your choice; all you have to do is open up the file again and voila, you’re ready to pick up from where you left off.
But, not so fast! I am here to tell you that handwriting has many beneficial gains, and this is why you should not turn a blind eye to the old school form of writing just yet. I know what you’re probably thinking right now—who in their right mind writes with a pen and paper in the 21st century?
As an entrepreneurial writer myself, I thought the exact same thing while working on a project called “Handwriting vs. Typing” for a local magazine. It required a lot of research.
I found out that writing in longhand can be extremely advantageous.
Just let me explain why …
Writing by hand is a lot more prolonged, and this requires us to be somewhat choosy in what we jot down. This results in us having to mentally put in more effort to write; our brains function more intensely, which results in a better quality of work.
It’s a workout for your brain, ultimately, in the sense that you’re using it a lot more while writing at a much slower pace than you would typing.
Longhand writing has ebbed away over the last two/three decades or so, as schools began to focus more on writing on devices.
University of Washington professor Virginia Berninger stated in the The Washington Post, “There’s a myth that in the era of computers we don’t need handwriting. That’s not what our research is showing. What we found was that children until about grade six were writing more words, writing faster and expressing more ideas if they could use handwriting—printing or cursive—than if they used the keyboard.”
Berninger, who is also an author of the book Brain Literacy for Educators and Psychologists, says “Writing is the way we learn what we’re thinking. The handwriting, the sequencing of the strokes, engages the thinking part of the mind.”
Fourteen states in the U.S., which include the likes of Virginia, Florida, and Texas, are now reintroducing cursive writing, where it had seemed dead and buried.
Longhand writing is said to boost your ability to absorb knowledge and be more dynamic with your work, coming up with newer and better ideas.
There is also the perk of liquidating all distractions from social media, which is so easily accessible through your device while you’re writing.
Your sole focus will be on what you’re writing and researching, and not which videos are trending on YouTube.
Wherever it is that you feel most comfortable writing up novels, articles, or blog posts, consider taking one or two days a week off from your devices and start jotting down your drafts on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil for maximum focus on what you’re writing about.
The studies suggest …
Social psychologist Pam Mueller, who conducted a study based on how effective laptop computers were for students, said:
“Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended—and not for buying things on Amazon during class—they may still be harming academic performance.”
Muller explained that she underwent the experience herself of switching from a laptop computer to a pen and paper and shared her opinion of the experiment:
“I felt like I had gotten so much more out of the lecture that day.”
This research shows that writing in longhand may give writers much more focus.
She told HuffPost Australia: “Basically, because we can keep pace typing but we can’t keep pace with handwriting, it means we have different ways of encoding the information, which in turn leads to better memory.”
This has great value for busy writers who have to conduct extensive amounts of research every day while they’re working on their next big piece.
For example, if writers handwrite their pieces, they now have a better chance of storing all the information they have just written about in their memories rather than having to go find that specific article to research again, potentially further down the line.
While writing takes up all or most of a writer’s week, other duties require writers to read and store as much information as possible. If writers aren’t writing, they’re usually reading, and vice versa.
But what we hate is having to go over something we’ve already read because we can’t remember what we’ve researched in the past.
I call it “donkey work.” The reason for this: its drudgery. The laborious elements of being a writer.
Try handwriting your draft casually, and while it may take you a lot longer this time around, over the long term, it could save you from having to do time-consuming research again in the not-so-distant future. Your memory has now been sharpened to store all the useful information.
Thinking long-term, I like it! Great strategy! Try it.
People with learning disabilities are urged to use handwriting to help with language processing.
Dyslexia can prevent ease of writing, speaking, spelling, vocabulary growth, and reading comprehension and retention.
When first learning to write, children are taught to print their names. They then move on to cursive writing. But for children with dyslexia, learning the two styles of handwriting might become a bit too confusing, so instead they singularly learn cursive writing.
Its most important feature is that each letter is formed without taking the pencil off the page, and each word is formed in one flowing writing maneuver.
He, in fact, flunked out of school at the tender age of 12 for being unable to finish his work.
But, inspirationally, Fitzgerald still made it as an iconic writer by writing in longhand.
If you have dyslexia, try writing out your first drafts, or write short stories with pen and paper.
Writing in longhand may help.
Yes, most writers are now using laptop computers; that’s absolutely fine, too! But don’t forget about the classic way of writing just yet.
Take time out from your schedule (if possible) to write in longhand—whether it be a first draft, poetry, or short fiction stories.
Switch it up occasionally and reap the rewards of the retro way of creating narratives. It has a lot of advantages that writing with newer technology does not provide us with.
You might well begin to discover that in the long run, your quality of work as a writer has improved substantially from writing in longhand—and it could make all the difference to your career as a writer.
Health to writing, writers.
Michael Bradley is an entrepreneurial writer currently based in Ireland who lends his services to various brands, SEO agencies, and magazines through his own website: www.freelancemichael.com, or directly through his personal email: [email protected]. When he isn't attending to his clients, Michael is a passionate Liverpool FC supporter and his dream is to one day see Liverpool win the Premier League. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.