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Mastery of Penmanship: The Benefits of handwriting

From work emails to everyday to-do lists, typing has become the chosen method of writing for most things in our lives. Advanced technologies have become so prevalent in our daily routines that they have almost replaced some of the most traditional activities, like handwriting. Fast and convenient, the entire digital process is quick and simple. And yet, even in this digital age, many leaders see keeping a notebook and pen at hand critical, not solely to write down ideas in the moment to refer back to later.
Research shows handwriting has its own advantages. Not only is it unique to each individual writer, unlike typeface; our handwriting style, and especially our signature is our personal statement. No two handwritings are the same, making them as unique as our fingerprints.

But what are the benefits of handwriting as opposed to typing?

Our brain engages in a completely different way when we write something by hand as opposed to typing on a keyboard or touching a screen. With a pen in hand, there is an instantly accessible creative opportunity to express ourselves that is simply not possible to be woven into the experience of typing on a keyboard. Handwriting as a medium for creative self-expression helps explore our ideas and imagination, while bringing meaning to our words as they are connected and contextualised.

Engaging the body in writing by hand makes writing a more holistic activity. The uniquely physical process of putting pen to paper to form words and sentences helps us slow down and fully engage with our thoughts, before they are being put to paper. The process allows for reflection and progress—for an expression of our inner selves. Especially journaling is often practiced as an act of handwriting to connect you with your words, to allow your brain to focus on them, understand them, and learn from them.

With handwriting instead of typing, our overall writing process becomes more intentional.

Writing on paper demands focus and attention, and allows you to think more thoroughly about the information you’re recording. Where typing as a bimanual activity requires you to remember only the map of the keyboard as well as to learn the association between the character, the movement associated with the pen and your hand, and the specific hand-eye coordination requirements, different for every letter in the alphabet, can help improve memory and retain information long-term. This is due to handwriting greatly enhancing our visual representation, activating the brain regions involved in learning, thinking and working memory—the exact parts of our brains that store and manage information.
Writing things out, we thus don’t just create relations between the pieces of information, we are also able to retain information better.

Though a little more time consuming, there are many benefits to handwriting on paper as opposed to typing on a keyboard. Handwriting will help you become a better communicator and better acquainted with different forms of writing demanded in different situations. It will help you think intentionally, communicate effectively, and employ lifelong learning skills to address important issues, where critical thinking is the most important factor to determine learning quality.

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