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Is It Better to Write By Hand or Computer?

Studies show writing by hand may help your brain.

 Morguefile, used with permission
Source: Morguefile, used with permission

Usually, I write drafts on a computer because I type faster than I write, and because I can name the document, file it on my computer, and find it afterward.

But in class, when I give a freewrite prompt and ask people to write for 10 minutes, I write by hand, and I see differences between writing on the computer and writing by hand. For one thing, there’s the heart/hand connection. When I do a freewrite by hand, I may end up writing a piece that wouldn’t have come out after I stared at the computer screen for hours. However, if I like the piece and want to type it up, name it and file it, it can be a tedious process.

Many studies suggest that there are brain-friendly benefits of writing out letters, notes, essays, or journal entries by hand that you can’t get from typing.

Writing by hand connects you with the words and allows your brain to focus on them, understand them and learn from them. Other studies suggest that writing longhand is a workout for your brain. According to a Wall Street Journal article, some physicians claim that the act of writing—which engages your motor skills, memory, and more—is a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they age. (See website, Mental Floss.) Writing by hand helps people remember information and thus retain their memories as they age.

Writing by hand activates more parts of the brain than typing, says the website “Little Things.” It requires writers to use more motor skills and a collection of links around the brain called the “reading circuit.”

Writing by hand can be rhythmic, therapeutic, and calming. It can also jumpstart creativity. Like walking and swimming, writing by hand is usually a surefire way for me to sort things out and it inspires creativity.

I will continue to write on the computer and by hand, but I am aware that writing by hand makes me feel better in some ways than writing on the computer.

Writing prompt: Write about an activity that calms you. Write for seven minutes by hand.

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