It’s Time We Begin A “Handwriting Reflection” Renaissance.
Putting pen to paper is a habit in steep decline. It’s not that people have fewer experiences. It’s not that they have less need to record information. The skill itself is fading and all that’s left to replace it is thumb-pecking pixels on screen.
What’s more, Research suggests that printing letters and writing in cursive activate different parts of the brain. Learning cursive is good for children’s fine motor skills, and writing in longhand generally helps students retain more information and generate more ideas.
It works the same way for adults. One of my college buddies, Max Kalehoff, a brilliant tech exec and father of three knows this. In a blog post he calls for the “resurrection of the handwritten letter.”
What we lose when we neglect to write is more than mere words. The motor movements involved in gliding the pen across the page engage our brains in ways that keyboard typing cannot match. The neural pathways directing your hand to transfer sentences from your mind to the paper sheet make amazing things happen.
Many of civilization’s greatest minds have found value in journaling. It’s so simple yet it holds boundless possibilities for growth and reflection.
Just as with face-to-face conversation or dogeared pages of a classic, we process information better the good ol’ fashioned way: Pen on paper reflection is better for us, according to according to the New York Times: “It is right up there with meditation. And for good reason: Scientific studies have shown it to be essentially a panacea for modern life.”
“Thinker Thursdays is one small step in the direction of renewing hand-written reflection.”
Let’s pledge together to dedicate one day each week (or month), beginning this Thursday, to write a real letter; a real thank you note; a real chapter of that novel. Choose a great pen (or pencil) and get started.
Screen time can never match the tangible feel of pen and paper. iPads can never match the sense of importance and permanence that comes from recording thoughts in a leather-bound journal, a moleskin notebook, or a letter.
Writing by hand engages mental resources and triggers connections that clarify your thinking. Typing out a Word doc is a shapeless task. Writing by hand is linear. There is no cutting and pasting. It’s time to slow down and think.
Thoughtful journaling lets you work through your goals and dreams. It opens up your thoughts and experiences to real reflection. It lets you be honest with yourself. It is also known to improve decision-making and critical thinking and to give better structure to your ideas. But don’t make it all about being results-oriented.
Extra-credit? Use an archive-friendly notebook. Pass it on to your kid one day. Meanwhile… Reflect. Dream.
Take the time to clear your inner space. Reflect on your challenges and accomplishments. Give space for your dreams, and get clear on why you want to see them come true. Write your thoughts about major life events, but also ordinary moments.
Extra-credit? Keep a reading log or a “Net Out” book report, like the one that Michael Hyatt has used in the past. (There’s a template Net Out tool in this link.)
Writing is a process of mental — and even spiritual — sorting. It provides insight that sparks ideas much more than just an item on your to-do list. Make it something to look forward to. No phone. No interruptions. Just you, a pen, and the blank page. #StartByDoodling
It’s a journey.
Join me on this journey, would you? Please touch base below and let’s share our discoveries.