When Should We Write By Hand?

I’m going to keep this post short, and for full disclosure, I didn’t write this by hand, but there is value in discussing the merits of handwriting, the deliberate way you slow down and process each word, each stroke, the way the tip feels when it glides over the paper.

Scientifically, the consensus is out: writing by hand helps us remember. A study done in the journal Psychological Sciences found that when people typed notes, they had a shallower understanding of the material. Writing by hand consolidated and processed that information, leading to better retention.

Another study published in Trends in Neuroscience and Education explained that through handwriting, we activitate certain motor neural pathways and keep them healthier, an effect that was not found in typing.

Typing isn’t necessarily bad though. You can get your thoughts down faster, it’s more convenient, and you never have to worry about going back and reinterpreting a poorly written scrawl. Moreover, all online publishing services from WordPress to Medium require you to submit a typed version of whatever you’re writing.

But I think the beauty of handwriting is more poetic than just the brain stimulation. When I’m writing about something personal, or if I want to take a step back to absorb some thoughts, the act of putting a good quality pen to paper is unmatched. Whether you like the scratchy, physical feelings of needle tips or the smooth glide of a well maintained fountain pen, the visceral sensation of translating the thoughts in your head to words on paper carries a joy about it.

For me at least, I’ve discovered that writing by hand has made it easier for me to let go of rigid grammar rules and perfectionism, allowing me to grasp the abstract ideas floating around in my head and give them form.

Drafting.

Editing.

Freewriting.

Note taking.

Pen and paper has much of a part in my life as my trusty keyboard.

When do you choose to write by hand?