benefits of writing by hand

In our digital age, where typing has largely taken over, there are still benefits of writing by hand. Regardless of the extra effort, it does a good job of triggering beneficial brain activity that is not replicated by typing.

Mr. Namminga, my typing teacher, might even agree. 

However, picking up a pen and journal can offer numerous advantages that typing can’t replicate. Whether you’re jotting down notes, planning your day, or reflecting on your thoughts, the benefits of writing by hand are manifold.

What are the 10 benefits Of Writing By Hand?

Writing by hand requires something to write with and a surface on which to write.  You may remember.

It offers significant cognitive, emotional, and practical benefits. Let’s explore these advantages in detail, including how handwriting and typing compare and the role of cursive in enhancing learning and memory.

fountain pen on a page of a hand written journal

1. Enhances Memory Retention

Writing by hand engages the brain in a unique way that typing doesn’t. When you write something down, your brain processes the information more deeply, leading to better memory retention. Studies have shown that students who take notes by hand tend to remember the material better than those who type their notes.

…research has found that when people are asked to write, draw or act out a word that they’re reading, they have to focus more on what they’re doing.

2. Boosts Creativity

The tactile act of writing can spark creativity. The slower pace of handwriting allows your mind to wander and explore ideas in a way that typing often cannot. The physical connection between your hand and brain helps you develop and articulate thoughts more creatively.

painting with colors 


3. Improves Focus and Concentration

Writing by hand reduces distractions. Without the allure of the internet or social media notifications, writing by hand can focus more intently on the task at hand, engaging different aspects of brain activity. This increased focus can lead to more productive work and clearer thinking.

This resonates with me.  As a person who is planfully distracted (all those devices and things around me is not an accident), the flow that leads up to profound meaning is much more likely when I stay on the page.

messy distracting desk

4. Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Journaling can be a therapeutic practice. Writing about your thoughts and feelings can help you process emotions and reduce stress. It’s a safe space to express yourself without judgment, which can lead to improved mental health.

By slowing your thoughts and focusing on each word, you cultivate a meditative approach that fosters clarity and depth in your work.

5. Enhances Learning

Writing by hand can improve learning. It forces you to slow down and think about the material more deeply. This deeper processing, a characteristic of writing by hand over typing, can enhance comprehension and retention, making it an excellent tool for students and lifelong learners alike.

Research from van der Meer at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology supports this.

researching benefits of writing by hand

6. Strengthens Fine Motor Skills

Writing by hand helps develop and maintain fine motor skills. The small, precise movements required for handwriting are beneficial for coordination and dexterity, which can be especially important for children’s development and maintaining motor skills in older adults.

7. Encourages Mindfulness

Handwriting is a more mindful activity than typing. It requires you to be present and engaged in the moment. This mindfulness can be calming and help you feel more connected to your thoughts and ideas.

8. Cultivates Personal Expression

Your handwriting is uniquely yours, much like a fingerprint. It’s a personal expression of your identity.

Writing by hand, such as crafting letters by hand, allows you to personalize your notes, letters, and journals in a way that typing doesn’t, enhancing brain activity and personal connection.

9. Enhances Cognitive Function

The benefits of writing by hand include simultaneously activating multiple areas of the brain. Scratching the brain by scratching the pad.

This cognitive engagement can improve overall brain function and may help prevent cognitive decline as you age.

pondering while journaling

10. Provides a Tangible Record

Unlike digital notes that can be lost or deleted, handwritten notes provide a tangible record you can physically hold, store, and revisit. This physical record can be more meaningful and lasting than its digital counterparts.

Fire and electromagnetic pulses are fighting this out.

How can we experience better benefits?

To maximize the benefits of writing by hand, including improved learning and memory, as noted, it’s essential to make it a regular practice.

Start by setting aside dedicated time each day for writing. Create a comfortable and inspiring space where you can write without interruptions. Use high-quality paper and pens that you enjoy, enhancing the experience and encouraging you to write more frequently.

What are the best ways to get started journaling?

Starting a journaling habit can be simple and rewarding. Begin by choosing a journal you like and a pen that feels good in your hand. Set a regular time each day for journaling, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Write about anything that comes to mind – your day, thoughts, and goals. There are no rules in journaling, so let your writing flow naturally. Over time, you may find that it becomes a cherished part of your routine.

Best pen and journal to start

Choosing the right tools can make a big difference in your writing experience. Look for a journal with good-quality paper that suits your writing style, whether you prefer lined, blank, or dotted pages.

For writing instruments, try different pens or pencils to see which feel best in your hand. Fountain pens, gel pens, and mechanical pencils are all popular choices.

Below are our choices for pen and paper.

best pen choice

BIC Cristal Xtra Smooth Black Ballpoint Pen

These medium-point BIC pens are great for everyday writing at work, school, or home and have easy-flowing ink that writes fluidly and effortlessly.

best journal choice

Moleskine Classic Notebook

You can’t get much better than the basic and classic notebook from Moleskine. Great for a journaling start. Lined pages and the book stays open without effort while you write.

$21.12 at amazon

Journal Prompts to Jump-Start Your Writing

When you consider the benefits of writing by hand, the first thing that comes to mind if you haven’t written in the past or it doesn’t come easy is what I write about.

Not to worry. There are many places to go online for journal prompts, including the blog you’re reading. Take a look and get started with your new pen and journal.

hooked on writing leads to places unknown

You don’t have to be a writer or even creative to journal.

Many people avoid journaling because they think they’re not good writers or creative enough.

However, journaling isn’t about crafting perfect prose. It’s about expressing yourself freely and honestly.

There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Whether you write a few sentences or several pages by hand, what matters is that you’re engaging with your thoughts, utilizing the cognitive benefits of this practice.

Conclusion/Wrap Up

Writing by hand offers many benefits beyond mere nostalgia, such as enhanced brain activity and improved learning outcomes.  From enhancing memory and creativity to reducing stress and improving focus, putting pen to paper can profoundly impact your cognitive and emotional well-being.

By making handwriting a regular part of your routine, you can experience these benefits firsthand.

pen on journal


Is it better to write by hand or type?

Both have their benefits, but writing by hand is often better for memory retention, creativity, and mindfulness, as noted by research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

What if my handwriting is messy?

Don’t worry about neatness. The act of writing, especially in cursive, is what’s important, not how it looks; it involves complex brain activity beneficial for learning and memory.

How often should I write by hand to see benefits?

Regular engagement with handwriting, as shown in studies by the University of Science and Technology, can significantly improve cognitive function.

Even a few minutes of daily handwriting can offer significant benefits. Consistency in practicing handwriting is key for reaping its full cognitive benefits, including better learning and memory.

What should I write about in my journal?

Write about anything that comes to mind. There are no rules. Your journal is a personal space for you to explore your thoughts and experiences.

Can I combine digital and handwritten notes?

Absolutely. Some people prefer to take quick digital notes and then expand on them by hand later.

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