Jan. 10, 2021: The Power of Hand Writing
The pen is mightier than the sword. I would hypothesize that it is mightier than the keyboard as well!
With the surge in our reliance on technology for everything from our jobs to our connections to others, keyboards have made our time actually holding a pen or pencil almost non-existent. And while there are definite benefits to these types of tools and technologies, there is a growing body of research that supports the importance of hand writing.
Picking up that pen or pencil and actually jotting things down on paper has benefits. Neurological, intellectual, and creative benefits.
In a nutshell, what the research says about hand-writing is: (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/case-handwriting/ )
- Hand-writing is linked to Literacy
- Hand-writing enhances learning
- Hand-writing improves writing composition
- Hand-writing boosts academic success
As a teacher, I find them all important. However, as a writer, I find the fact that it improves composition fascinating.
I have always written my first drafts in a three-ring binder, by hand. Not because of any research I had read or any pedagogy I might hold, but simply because it worked better for me. My main reasons for continuing with this are:
- It is easily transportable. This is because I will often write in small chunks of time in many different places. The car, the coffee shop, my classroom. A binder can be tossed into my bag and I always have it handy. I also like the ability to be able to easily write in different locations, as I sometimes find that helpful in creating a sense of place in my work.
- It is easy to organize my research and outlines and have them easily referable (in the binder) as I write. It is easy to have character backstories, timelines, and other details and information handy every time I want to draft a bit. Even if these things are also stored digitally, I can often get to what I want quicker in a binder than in opening files and folders on the computer.
- It is easier to ignore mistakes when hand-writing. This sounds crazy, but because hand-writing is messy (crossing out, arrows to move passages, question marks or gaps, etc) it is easier to keep the flow of the writing. When typing, programs will point out or underline misspelled words or improper grammar and I feel the need to stop and fix it. I DO NOT want to do that when composing the first draft. The first draft is simply to get the story out.
- Binders do not rely on electricity, the internet, hot spots, the cloud, or any other technological marvels to be able to use them. That makes them reliable. I can count on being able to work any time, any where.
This is not to say that I think we should throw out our keyboards and embrace hand writing for everything. I do not. Once my first drafts are done, everything moves to digital formats. The second drafts, the revisions, the submissions- these are all in digital formats.
While there are many, many successful writers who rarely pick up a pen or pencil anymore, for many of us, if the research is to be believed, hand writing some things should be a routine part of our lives. It can feed and nurture our creative souls. So hand write those thank you notes, some letters, and those journal entries, even if you do everything else on your computer!