Can handwriting help you do your job better in the digital age? If you’re like most people, you probably do most of your writing on a computer. When you’re on the go, you may use your phone or tablet. Handwriting, by contrast, feels painfully slow. Perhaps even hard.
The word alone — handwriting — may evoke images of pages and pages that you need to retype into your computer before you can even start making sense of them. But before we dismiss it as obsolete, let’s look first at the benefits of handwriting.
Benefits of Handwriting
The advantages of writing something by hand aren’t immediately obvious. Typing is faster than handwriting. The spellchecker helps you avoid typos and grammatical errors. Digital file formats make editing, formatting, sharing, and publishing easy. Besides, when you type something instead of handwriting it, you save yourself the trouble of having to transcribe it.
So why even bother to handwrite something?
1. Sometimes, Slower Is Better
When you write slowly, you can pick your words with care. It’s easier to make sure that every word you write serves a purpose. This can be especially important when writing an organization’s About page, for example. Or any other piece of writing where the content is more important than the keywords or call to action.
2. Helps You Focus
For many writers, the internet, email, and the other things that a computer can do can be a major distraction. You may set out to write an article, but if you get an important email or stumble upon some momentous news item, resisting it may prove to be too great.
Distractions and interruptions can have a destabilizing effect on your productivity. They interrupt the thought process and halt your creativity. Imagine this. You’re driving fast and good on the highway. But then you see a wild animal ahead of you. You have no choice but push the breaks. An interruption can do the same thing to your writing. Stop you dead in your tracks.
3. Calms You and Induces a Peaceful State
Handwriting has the power to calm down your brain. Computers, with their bright screens, background music, and constant notifications, have just the opposite effect. A writer’s life can feel hectic, especially when you have plenty of assignments to complete in a short time. Handwriting may be the simple and unexpected solution to stay calm and keep writing.
4. Unleashes Your Creativity
Studies have found that handwriting works out more parts of your brain than typing. This makes handwriting ideal for brainstorming ideas, creating outlines, or breaking down a difficult assignment into manageable parts.
When you have to write a long piece on a challenging topic, the extra time you put into handwriting an outline could save you hours of actual work and research. Handwriting can also be an effective way to come up with keywords or engaging headlines. You can also count on it for creating compelling calls to action.
How to Write Creatively by Hand
As you can see, handwriting more often can be a positive thing. But how can you maximize the benefits of handwriting without it feeling like a drag?
It takes a bit of practice, it’s true. If you haven’t handwritten in a long time, picking up your pen or pencil will feel a bit strange. Almost like you’re holding a foreign, ancient object in your hand.
That’s why you don’t want to force yourself too much. Handwriting won’t transform you overnight into a genius. Start slow but steady. Check out these creative writing tips and handwriting exercises.
Set yourself a time limit or a page limit. Don’t think too much about what you are writing. Don’t correct errors or pause to think about what you have written. Don’t stop until your time or page limit runs out. There may be fluff on your page, but among it, you may find sparks of inspiration.
2. Handwrite in The Morning
In the morning the brain is fresh and reaches its highest concentration levels. Add handwriting to that, and you create perfect conditions for writing something great.
3. Handwrite Before You Type
Switching from your computer to the page may seem awkward, like downshifting on a speedway. By contrast, moving on to the computer once your words are flowing on the paper may seem like a natural transition. In a Paris Review Interview, Ernest Hemingway himself said that he handwrote until the writing got good, and then switched to his typewriter.
4. Handwrite Ideas
Take a blank sheet of paper and turn it, so that it’s in “landscape mode”. Write in the middle of the page your keywords, call to action, or a name of the page you want to create. Then start handwriting ideas around it. Make big ideas bigger and smaller ones smaller. Circle ideas you like and cut out ideas that you don’t like. This can be one of the most creative handwriting exercises around.
5. Handwrite What Others Wrote
Simply copying great writing can improve your own writing. You assimilate words and expressions and turn a style that you want to inspire you into a habit. Handwriting great writers’ writing also gives you a better understanding of why their writing works. You get to look at the smallest units of language and make sense of them. When it comes to tips for first time writers, this may turn out to be one of the best.
So, when should you handwrite? If you’ve read so far, you may feel by now that handwriting and typing aren’t really contenders, but different strategies that can complement each other.
You can handwrite when you need fresh ideas or a creativity boost, or when you aim for perfect word choice. On the other hand, when you need to write fast and link together the ideas you already have, typing is just what you need. It’s quick, efficient, and makes editing so much easier. By both typing and handwriting, you can improve your writing. Try handwriting more and before long you’ll see the results.