Do you still write, with a pen or pencil, using your hands?  Or do you only use technology?

The disadvantages of always using tech, can mean that your handwriting becomes indecipherable, as you can’t be bothered to actually write the words out!  It seems to be so much easier, to just type away on a keyboard.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is transformational across our lives – however there are skills we are losing which have value to us. Blending the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ is often a great strategy particularly in business. With that in mind, I’m marking National Handwriting Day on January 23.

For example, handwriting a thank you note to a client is unusual these days and is likely to be really appreciated (and may be shared on social media too).

10 reasons why handwriting is special and why is it good for you:

  1. When writing by hand, your brain engages differently. It improves memory and we learn better when working with new ideas through handwriting, rather than typing.  It has been found that students using laptops to make notes during lectures, tend to type word for word what the professor says. Those who take notes by hand and frame them into their own words will have a better understanding of the subject when later questioned.
  1. Engaging the body to write provides a more holistic activity. Holding a pen or pencil to paper, to form words and sentences is a unique, physical action. It involved several tactile experiences – e.g. fine-motor skills of the muscles of your fingers and hands, plus larger muscles of the arm and body. This is especially important for young children.
  1. When you learn the alphabet, to physically interact in making the shape of the letter, can help children to learn, retain the letters and letter sounds. It is impossible when typing different letters, to recognise the shape of each letter, as on a computer keyboard the keys all feel the same. Recent scientific research has shown that there is a distinct neural pathway which is only activated when we physically draw out letters.
  1. Writers often prefer the handwritten first draft, and then read through and edit. When we type onto a screen we tend to edit as we go, which can interfere with the flow of ideas ie. the creative process.  Also, the time we spend at machines is often far too long, so, writing on paper is a good way to take a break from our devices.
  1. Even in this digital age, many people find it useful to have a notepad and pen handy, so you can jot down ideas when they appear, and refer back to them later. It is often easier to scribble an idea rather than type and later, find that it’s complete nonsense, due to the vagaries of predictive text, by which time, you’ve forgotten the thread of your idea. Many writers keep a notepad and pen by their bed, in case they wake in the night with ideas.
  1. Holding and writing a pen, you can be as expressive and creative with the style of your writing as you want, which is not always possible on the keyboard. You can choose fonts, sizes, and colours etc, but not with the same physical attachment. When typing, many of us type at a fast speed, whereas with handwriting, it encourages you to stop and think.
  1. Handwriting is individual to each person. Your handwriting style, your signature is a permanent statement of your personality and something worth developing. Growing up, we still need to be able to write legibly for others to read, and to be able to read both cursive and print – it’s an important part of literacy.
  1. Handwritten notes to people are more personal and special, in a way that email and typewritten letters are not. Although we have lost much of the skill of letter writing, handwritten cards, or notes can be something to cherish. Sending handwritten cards to clients and business partners and suppliers is a way to make them feel special.
  1. Although we can carry our technology with us almost anywhere, there are times when, if you want to have peace and quiet to focus on your writing, having a pen and notepad means you can write almost anywhere, without interruptions of your phone pinging, or emails popping up on your screen. The writer Neil Gaiman has said, ‘typing is like work, whereas, writing with a pen is like playing, and you can write on planes when they’re taking off and landing.’
  1. Working away from the computer is sometimes better for us, in terms of giving us a better work, life balance. We can actually write for the sake of writing, creatively rather than just for work.