When was the last time you wrote something down? Was it a short Post-It left on the counter on your way out the door? Could it have been quick notes jotted down in your 9 a.m. lecture? According to the Washington Post, it’s more likely you haven’t written anything down in a while.
In an increasingly virtual world, writing things by hand has become more of a hobby than a necessity. Why pick up the pen when you could use your notes app instead? While there are practical reasons for writing on your computer, it’s equally important to upkeep your handwriting abilities. In an interview with the Washington Post, occupational therapist Paula Heinricher said that “there’s also research that shows when you write by hand, there is a deeper brain connection and a deeper understanding, and you retain that information longer.”
While this may not seem important as an office worker just trying to make it through the day, it is important to reconsider how this digital landscape is impacting the learning process for children. When being raised around constant electronic devices and learning environments, children have fewer opportunities to handwrite and develop these skills. Not only does it affect learning and information retention in growing brains, but not physically writing consistently impacts muscle development.
Here are some ideas for how you can implement handwriting in your daily life:
- Write down your grocery lists:
While it may not seem like a large change, consider handwriting your grocery lists each week. It could be easier to just use the familiar comforts of your notes app, but where’s the fun in that? Pick out some cute stationery. Use some fine-pointed Japanese pens. Doodle in the margins. Do anything, so long as it uses your hands. Not only will it help reactivate those underused muscle groups you’ve probably been neglecting, but it will also be cute.
This is probably the most predictable solution to the current problem, but it works nonetheless. Writing about your day, either before it starts or when you’re about to go to sleep, is a great way to increase the amount of time you spend writing by hand. Some people have misconceptions about journaling, but it is important to remember that it can be whatever you want it to be. Sit in the park and write down descriptions of the people that pass you by. Complain about all the things you can’t say out loud without feeling bad. Write horrible haikus about your morning coffee. Do anything, but write it out.
- To-do’s and notes:
Another easy way you can write more is by substituting the things you normally type for the pen and pad. I know that the cute to-do’s on Notion is tempting, but consider a notebook instead. When your boss is rambling on in that daily Zoom meeting, use that time to write down your tasks for the day, your goals, or even important information.
- Notes to your loved ones:
While it is a mostly outdated concept, handwritten notes and love letters are still the way into just about anyone’s heart. It doesn’t need to be an anniversary or birthday for you to express how you’re feeling. Even just leaving Post-Its for your partner or roommates can be a kind and simple way to consistently use those old handwriting muscles. Keep it small, and keep it thoughtful!
Even though these things may seem unnecessary or self-explanatory, it’s still something we’re failing to do. Just little changes can go a long way in fighting the negative impacts of our digital revolution.