The Multiple Benefits of Handwriting

cursive-writing

 

As computers are now mastering almost every aspect of our lives, we find it more and more difficult to resort to pen and paper to express an idea, write a message, jot down thoughts, and other such activities. Have you ever thought why teachers bombarded us with hand writing tasks and homework if now we don’t bother with making those perfectly shaped letters since we barely use them anymore?

When was the last time you wrote a letter to a friend? By hand, that is. Yes, the process requires more time and effort but think about what this means for your friend – regardless of the content, what you are also saying is that you value them and that investing a bit more of your time is worth it.

The thing is handwriting involves graceful movement, dancing, drawing rounded forms – and all these add emotion to the text as well as to the audience. Emoticons will never be able to restore emotion in our soulless typing. And what about freedom of expression: do we express ourselves more freely with a pen than with a keyboard?

Well, while word-processing is a normative, standardized tool, handwriting does seem to allow you a greater freedom: you are creating a form that software cannot. You don’t have to follow a set pattern.

According to neuroscientists and psychologists, the benefits of handwriting for your brain run deep so I’ve listed here a few:

It enhances learning

Handwriting strengthens the learning process and produces a healthier mind. On the other hand, typing produces mindless processing. One of the most effective ways of studying is rewriting your notes by hand.

It’s a key step in cognitive development

It boosts cognitive skills for young children as they benefit more from learning how to write shapes and letters by hand than via technology.

It improves memory

Psychologists say that writing by hand has both short-term and long-term effects on the memory. If you’re a student, handwriting your notes could help you understand better and retain concepts, ideas, theories, and facts. This is not the case when you use your laptop for the same activity.

It has a soothing effect

Handwriting could be a form of graphotherapy. If you write peaceful content, those sentences will have a positive impact on your brain.

It engages your motor skills

Handwriting entails movement – from the holding of your pen to touching the paper and to how you are tracing the letters, one round form after the other. This is why writing by hand is considered a great sensory motor exercise.

It uses more of your brain

The region of the brain that is activated during reading is also activated when you are writing by hand, but not while typing or texting. The movements involved in handwriting leave a motor memory in the sensorimotor part of the brain, helping us recognize letters. This implies a strong correlation between reading and writing by hand.

It could help those with special needs

Cursive writing aids in preventing the reversal and inversion of letters so it could be an effective way to help treat dyslexia and dysgraphia.

It sharpens aging minds

Using pen and paper keeps our brains active in old age. Simply put, handwriting is good for everyone – kids, adults, and the elderly.

It reduces distractions

Cursive writing can train self-control ability and helps those with behavioral or sensory processing disorders.

It inspires creativity

Finally – and probably most importantly if you’re a writer – handwriting cultivates creativity in ways typing can’t. Because putting words on paper is a slower process, it helps you express more ideas and inspires more creative thought.

Many writers have expressed their preference for hand writing their drafts only to type them later for editing. (I confess I use pen and paper in drafting my poems as well as for my brief free writing exercises which creates an intimacy with the words I’m crafting.)

Handwriting is an art form. And it’s dying. Even though research suggests there is a strong connection between handwriting and broader educational development, public schools in the United States are removing cursive writing from the classrooms. As kids and students are becoming more accustomed to texting, typing, and tweeting, cursive writing will appear to them as peculiar as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

So is it that how we write matters just as much as what we write? Whether we write shopping lists, reminders, birthday cards, essays, notes, articles, poems, or love letters, whenever we do so, we are training our brains to work just a bit differently. Yes, typing is more practical because it’s faster, but it lacks the beautiful nuances and layers of personality and vulnerability that handwriting adds to the words we artfully conceive.

PS: Sadly, I have not handwritten this article prior to typing it.

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6 thoughts on “The Multiple Benefits of Handwriting

  1. I like your endnote, still… the article was good! I cannot agree more with you: handwriting is my very signature. I love it so much that I wrote my last three thousand word essay in philosophy with ink and paper. Unfortunately, my university didn’t accept this format… (I had to try), so I finally resigned myself to “type it down”; what a shame!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s sad that handwriting is such a dying art. There really is nothing like writing or receiving a beautiful handwritten letter; it just feels so much more personal and special and I feel really sad that this might be something future generations may never know.

    I used to write letters by hand regularly but it’s rarer now unfortunately as most people would rather email. I’d like to do it more. Might have to find myself a pen pal!

    I do still write all my stories and poetry by hand though. I find the slower pace suits me more as well and the words just flow more easily. It feels better too somehow, like I’m actually working and putting effort in.
    I also lost an entire story I’d written once when my hard drive crashed so I guess I find it safer as well.

    I hope that as society gets more and more technological, nostalgia will kick in and more people will start to enjoy writing by hand again… a bit like how more people are shopping in secondhand book stores now because of the rise of ebooks. It may only end up being a small percentage of people but I hope it happens. At least handwriting and letters would survive then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. Handwritten letters or poems are special to me as well 🙂 Words do flow differently when you have an actual pen in your hand. I shudder when I think of the new generations of kids raised with tablets, laptops, and smartphones making their brains duller and duller. Hope at least some of them will discover the beauty of handwriting 🙂

      Like

  3. Yes! All of this! I really value that I was taught to write cursive in addition to normal form. Even though I type most of my writing, I still keep a handwritten journal. I find the process of handwriting it so soothing. It makes me so sad that public schools are removing cursive from education…it truly is an art from.

    Liked by 1 person

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