Top 5 Reasons To Love Handwriting
I never really liked exercising, but one day a couple of years ago I had an insight - I don’t have to like it for it to work and make my body stronger. I just have to do it.
Handwriting is kinda like that - you don’t have to like it for it to work and for you to reap the benefits. Just doing it can help you organize your thoughts and ideas, recall important information, calm your mind, connect to your intuition, and feed your inner artist. And, like any other exercise you practice regularly, you will get much better at it over time.
Organizing thoughts and ideas
Writing with your hand needs more concentration, which helps slow down the thought process, and allows for time to make connections and flesh out ideas. Being able to quickly correct a typo means you can type faster, but you’re no getting that visceral connection to your words on the page.
Handwritten texts also show greater creativity and more complex sentences than typed ones. A possible explanations could be that writing with your hand, your posture, and the necessary movements, all stimulate regions in the brain that are also responsible for thinking and speaking. When you’re typing, on the other hand, your fingers are consistently on the same surface. It is the electronic connection that makes the letter appear on the paper, not the movement of your hand and wrist. Therefore, your connection to the character and the words that appear is less strong.
When comparing students who transcribe a lecture verbatim and students who handwrite their notes, both groups are able to recall details with similar clarity and accuracy. But it’s the handwriting group that is better able to make connections and inferences.
Students who handwrite strange words are better able to recall them. The brain doesn’t only save the word and the image, it also memorizes the bodily motion to reproduce the word, which just adds one more memory lane to their disposal. I guess that’s why our French teacher always made us write down new vocabulary in our notebooks.
Calm your mind
Did you know that handwriting activates neurological macro-states that have the same meditative effects as sitting down and focusing on your breath? Amazing, isn’t it? I was never able to get into traditional meditation, but journaling does it for me!
Handwriting also helps me alleviate my anxiety. Once I have written down all the things swirling around in my brain, all the things I have to do, or that I’m afraid of, they become tangible. I can see them literally black on white - and more often than not, that takes away some of their power. Because how can something so small that it fits on a piece of paper be so scary? It takes honesty to write them down, and that lifts some of their hold on me. Now they’re out in the open, I can tackle them.
Connect to your intuition
Writing with your hand feels like sincere communication to me. It is a communion with my soul, an expression of the inner voice. Getting quiet, finally, shutting out the external and finding out what I’m actually thinking and feeling. Seeing and exploring those thoughts that are inaccessible until they come flowing out of my pen and start appearing on paper.
This sentence might seem weird, so allow me to explain: If you’re familiar with personality types, you will have heard about introversion and extraversion (yes, that’s the correct Jungian spelling). If you have preferences for introversion, you are comfortable and indeed energized by your inner world of thoughts and emotions. You probably love figuring things out for yourself, inside your head and sometimes your guts, and you probably don’t need to “talk it out” with anyone. Well, I have extraversion preferences, which means I get my energy from interacting with people and a general exchange with the external world. I often don’t know what I’m going to say until it is out of my mouth! (I know, shocking.)
So to help my thoughts and attention go inward, I literally imagine my imagination as a person who lives inside me who I can talk to. I do that with emotions as well. Fear, love, anger, shame - they all sit around a big table and talk over each other, and when I’m trying to figure something out, I sit down with my journal and my pen, and imagine I’m talking to each of them. I write my question, and then when I’m really lucky and tuned in, their answers flow out my pen onto the paper.
Feed your inner artist
I never connected with the term “artist”. Me? The girl who got bad grades in school for not being able to draw nicely? But here’s the thing - you don’t have to be a painter to be an artist. Everybody’s creative! Creating is making something from nothing, or something new that hasn’t been there before, and you can totally do that.
While you may think your handwriting is illegible or ugly, you can doodle alongside and add little unique illustrations. Or you can learn calligraphy, which is writing beautifully using specific tools and following specific rules. Writing can be made to look very beautiful indeed, if you’re willing to put in the time to practice. The letters you can write to brighten someone else’s day when they go and pick up something that isn’t a bill or a catalog they never ordered. The inspirational prints you can make and hang up around the house. The invitations to your parents’ 40th wedding anniversary you can write! Or even the journal and scrapbook you keep for yourself. Handwriting and calligraphy will beautify your life.
And there you have it, the five main reasons why I love handwriting. What’s yours?