I think my new favorite week is National Handwriting Analysis week. There’s nothing I love more than writing things by hand. I’ve always had an ache for it; learning how to perfect and change my handwriting based on what I was working on. I studied other writing and learned to emulate their style while adding my own personal flare.
Over the years, I’ve taken interest in card making, note taking, bullet journaling, creative design, and calligraphy (though for reasons not important here, it wasn’t my thing). I’ve used it as a creative outlet and a means to organize myself.
You don’t have to convince me of the importance of handwriting — I’m going to write anyway. Still, it’s fun to learn why handwriting benefits us. There’s obvious cognitive benefits, but there can be personal benefits as well. Here are a few things handwriting can do for you.
Handwriting helps you slow down
Writing by hand is naturally slower than typing out on a computer. While it takes longer to complete assignments, slowing down gives you time to engage with your thoughts and think intentionally about what you are putting on the page. Think of how often you edit while you type. When you write by hand, however, you are forced to engage with each word that crosses your mind and transcribe deliberately.
Handwriting helps you focus
Because you aren’t flying rapidly over a keyboard, you’re forced to focus on each word that comes across your mind. While typing, our hands have picked up muscle memory. We can type words without really thinking about where the keys are. When we can go through information quickly like that, we can often overlook the most important things.
Consider taking notes in class. When you’re able to transcribe everything, you often write out everything that comes from the professor’s mouth. However, when you write by hand, you are forced to focus on the most important information and transcribe it. Often, because you can’t write everything, you creatively think of new ways to write that same information.
Handwriting increases the gray matter in your brain
Much like meditation does, handwriting has a lot of benefits to your brain and body. Gray matter includes the parts of your brain responsible for muscle control, sensory perception (seeing and hearing), memory, thinking, language, emotions, decision-making, and self-control. The less we activate this area of the brain, the less gray matter we have. Do yourself a favor and write by hand.
Handwriting gives you creative freedom
Even with the advancing technologies, handwriting still gives you the creative freedom that comes with gray matter in your brain, focus, and patience. A blank sheet of paper is more inviting than a structured word document or note template. Not only will writing do you good, doodling and being unique in your organization, style, and format will help you retain information and keep the creative juices flowing.
Handwriting is intimate and personal
Writing by hand is a way to add a personal and intimate touch to anything you do. In your writing, a handwritten draft is full of deliberate and intentional ideas. A journal is inspirational and real to the writer. A card for someone shows you took the time and that you are making a personal connection. You can influence emotion in a beautiful way, even if your handwriting isn’t as neat as someone else’s.
Writing has often been used as a cognitive behavioral therapy tool, and it’s no surprise that writing by hand is a useful tool psychologists suggest. Handwriting is an extremely useful resource that you should be taking advantage of in your daily life. Knowing the cognitive and personal benefits handwriting can provide is the first step. Now go find something to write!