Do you still write “thank you” cards by hand? Maybe you pour all your thoughts and feelings into a diary. Either way, you’re doing something right. Writing things down has the power to improve your mental and physical health. Everything from memory to motor skills is enhanced when you put pen to paper.

In this digital world, why should you write by hand instead of type? Take a few notes as we dive into the reasons why old-school writing is still valuable.

The skill of handwriting involves both mental and physical processes; it sits astride the cusp of mind and body.

– Tamara Plakins Thornton, author of Handwriting in America

Why is Handwriting Still Important?

It might seem easier to pick up your laptop and type something out. Still, you should shut down that power and pick up a pen!

There are many perks to writing things down by hand. You’ll have improved:

  • Memory
  • Critical Thinking
  • Writing Ability
  • Relationship with the Reader
  • Sleep
  • Eyesight
  • Focus
  • Motor Skills

Here are all the reasons why you should still write things down by hand:

#1: Writing By Hand Helps You Remember Things

Do you feel like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates? For those who don’t know, her character is permanently stuck on the same day and can’t remember anything beyond that. Some of us have that same problem when it comes to everyday life.

If you’re part of that group, you should get in the habit of writing down the things you need to remember, like passwords, appointments, and upcoming events. Put it all in a planner or any other designated area that you’ll be sure to see.

While your phone’s equipped with a calendar, there’s still value in keeping something to write with in arm’s reach. Research from Princeton University found that writing notes by hand improves your ability to remember things long-term. In other words, your anniversary might be four months away, but you’re less likely to forget when you write it down. At the very least, your significant other will surely appreciate the memory boost!

Game Time!

Ready to give this a try? Get a partner to say 20 words out loud and write them down. Look at the list for 1-2 minutes and then tuck it away. Recite as many words as you can back to your partner. You should be able to recall at least half of the words, which is much better than trying to recite them back from hearing them alone.

#2: Writing By Hand Improves Your Critical Thinking

If you want to truly understand something, you need to write notes by hand. This is important for everyone, but especially college students. With essays to write and tests to study for, you’ll go crazy if you don’t grasp a concept. Grab a pen and take notes in an old-fashioned notebook!

According to Dr. Helen Macpherson of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University, we encode information differently when we write. Typing allows us to keep pace with the information as it’s being delivered, but writing causes us to fine-tune our thought process and come up with our own summaries and conclusions. Ultimately, we are able to form an understanding of the material that’s unique to our experience.

Whether you’re in college or not, this is important for everyone to keep in mind! Critical thinking is what helps us solve problems and make important decisions. This makes us more successful at work, school, relationships, and everything in between!

Most of us take it as a truism that writing is good, ennobling, and central to being an educated citizen.

– Anne Trubek, author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting

#3: Writing By Hand Helps You Become a Better Writer

You might not win a Pulitzer for picking up a pen, but you’ll still harness a lot of creativity when you write longhand. According to writer Jane Trombley’s article in Medium, this is a chance for you to dump all your scattered thoughts, feelings, and ideas into one place. There’s less pressure to produce a perfect final result.

If that’s not enough, consider that fact that many famous authors preferred writing by hand for their first draft including:

  • J.K. Rowling
  • Stephen King
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Amy Tan
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Truman Capote
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Neil Gaiman

All of these authors relied on longhand in order to produce their work, and as of 2018, they have an estimated 200 novels among them! J.K. Rowling wrote the first few sections of Harry Potter on a napkin. Stephen King randomly writes all his thoughts in a stream of consciousness. No matter your writing style, getting a few ideas onto a piece of paper can work wonders for creative expression.

Writing in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve your work.

– Ernest Hemingway

#4: Writing By Hand Adds a Personal Touch

It’s always more meaningful to receive something written by hand. The writer really took the time to think about the message they wanted to send you. This personal touch gets lost when we use a computer and graphic design software. Think about it. How sad would it be if a kid sent a text to Santa instead of a letter?

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ what-happens-all-those-letters-sent-santa-180967542/

That could be why calligraphy is still a thriving industry. This form of visual art has been in practice since the first quill made its debut. It’s super easy to learn and adds a fancy flourish to wedding invitations, birthday cards, and even home décor! Not to mention, it feels a lot more personal than something printed from a computer.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ what-happens-all-those-letters-sent-santa-180967542/

Give it a try! This video breaks down calligraphy for beginners.

#5: Writing By Hand Helps You Fall Asleep Faster

There’s a lot that can make us feel stressed out. Between rush hour traffic, piles of bills, and crazy kids, it’s no surprise that 80% of people in the United States feel stress frequently throughout the day. Stress can also be caused by lack of sleep, but rest assured, writing things down can help us hit the hay a little bit easier.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2018

In 2018, a group of scholars from Baylor University in Texas published an article about how writing affects sleep in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. A total of 57 adults were gathered for a sleep study. Some of the participants were asked to spend five minutes writing out a to do list for the next couple of days. Another group was asked to journal about completed tasks before they went to bed.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2018

The participants who wrote out to-do lists fell asleep faster than those who didn’t. Another important factor was how much they wrote and how detailed they were in their tasks. The more that was written, the faster the participant fell asleep.

It just goes to show writing a to-do list is better than cookies, milk, and a bedtime story any day! Keep a pen and paper on your nightstand and get in the habit of writing out your tasks for the next day or week.

#6: Writing By Hand Increases Your Focus

Many things can steal our attention, but this is amplified even more when we’re using an electronic device. We have the internet, games, media, and so much more at our fingertips. Why would we pay attention to something boring when we can watch a movie instead?

When we get distracted, it takes about 25 minutes for us to get back to the original task. In other words, we can get in one episode of “The Office” before we get back to work. Dwight Schrute would be proud.

Paper isn’t equipped with social media, Candy Crush, or “The Office,” which is exactly why it’s better for staying on task. In fact, an article by marketing guru Neil Patel that was published in Forbes in 2016 recommends writing out your critical tasks every hour when you’re at work. This helps you refocus your brain and tackle important projects without going insane!

#7: Writing By Hand Puts Less Strain on Your Eyes

Our eyes are under constant strain throughout the day. We are flipping back and forth between looking at a computer, phone screen, and television. This is having serious long-term effects on our vision.

As of 2017, more than 30% of people reported visual fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, and blurred vision after using a digital device for two hours. These numbers are bound to be even higher as more and more people use technology throughout the day.

Alarmingly, studies also show that extended usage of digital devices may cause changes in blinking patterns. You blink significantly less when your eyes are focused on a screen, which is bad since this is what nourishes your eyes with oxygen and nutrients. Staring like a zombie at a screen for an extended amount of time can easily dry out your eyes and damage your vision.

The best way to counter all this strain is by using paper whenever possible. The more you can do to look away from the screen, the healthier your eyes will be in the long run. Here are some ideas to get you started!

Write to your co-workers on sticky notes instead of sending an email whenever possible.

Play a game of Pictionary instead of turning on the TV.

Pass notes with your friends like they used to do in school before the days of texting.

Have “unplugged” days at least once a month.

Start writing letters again to people who live farther away rather than checking in on Facebook.

With a paper you don’t have to worry about a dead battery, apps that crash or need updated or low service signal.

– Joey Fox, National Account Manager at BIC Graphic

#8: Writing By Hand Enhances Your Motor Skills

It’s important to keep your mind sharp, especially as you age. However, it’s just as important to exercise your muscles and motor skills.

An easy way to give your hand and brain a workout is by doing word searches, crosswords, Sudoku, or any other paper puzzle. You can buy these in books, newspapers, or print some out online.

Research is being done to determine how these brain games can potentially prevent dementia. At the very least, there is also the physical benefit of moving a pen across paper. This action helps you engage your hand muscles, which in turn, keeps your grip healthy and strong. This is important for any age, from young kids learning to write to older people with muscle deterioration.

A World of Writing

It might seem difficult to put away your devices and go back to writing by hand. However, there are many ways you can make it happen! It can be as involved as taking a pledge or as simple as finding the right writing utensils for the job.

Take for instance the teachers at South Vermillion Middle School in Indiana. Rather than fighting the new era of technology, they’re using it to encourage students to become more comfortable with the writing process. Many teachers allow their students to write in “text speak” first before creating a more grammatically sound final draft.

https://www.tribstar.com

Jenny French, the Director of Curriculum in the school district for almost two years, wrote a book all about the process. In her experience as both an English teacher and working in administration, she has seen students lose their writing stamina, both physically and mentally. Jenny encourages teachers to not resist the new era of communication, but to use it to help students become more comfortable with the writing process.

https://www.tribstar.com

The goal is for writing by hand to never disappear. even in this digital age. There are ways for teachers to fuse these new methods of communication. For instance, every student K-12 at the South Vermillion Community district has an iPad, but they still learn cursive in their elementary school. Overall, our mobile devices may be capable of amazing things, but they’ll never replace the written word.

I think handwriting is crucial and has been pushed aside. This does a complete disservice to students.

– Jennifer French, Director of Curriculum for South Vermillion Community School Corp

Always Write in Style

Of course, it’s not enough to just talk about writing things down. You also need the right tools for the job. We all have a favorite pen or pencil. Sometimes it’s the one that’s personalized with a cute message. Other times, it’s the one we received as a gift from a super cool elementary teacher.

That’s why it’s smart for companies to advertise with custom pens or pencils. There isn’t a day that goes by where a person doesn’t need to write something down, whether it’s a grocery list at home or a quick memo on a sticky note at work.

Ready to become the new favorite? Try any of these stylish options!

The options above are available from Quality Logo Products®. They come in a variety of colors and are customized with whatever unique message or logo you have in mind. If you’d like more information, please reach out to our team directly!

Stats for Success

Writing has been around since about 3200 BC.

You should write by hand for at least 15 minutes each day.

As of 2016, only 14 states require public schools to teach cursive.

The Bottom Line

No more excuses about your hand cramping! It’s time to go old-school and write things down by hand. You’ll have a better memory, increased focus, less strain on your eyes, and so much more. Let’s face it – if it’s good enough for J.K. Rowling, it should be good enough for you!

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.