Handwriting Can Help

Bill Abbate

Call me old-fashioned, but I love writing with a nice pen. The way the ink flows onto the paper is something no amount of technology can recreate. The permanence of writing on paper makes it unique. Unless physically destroyed, it will be here for hundreds of years, while something in digital form may or may not be around.

Are you aware that handwriting provides three significant benefits for your health? Read on to learn more!

The handwriting difference

Handwriting has an advantage technology can’t replace, although it attempts to mimic it. Writing with ink on paper, as in a journal, is a marvel. It is a personal expression like no other. You can’t hit the backspace key or delete it. It is just there, in all its glory.

One of the great things about writing is its permanence. Some of my most cherished possessions are the things my first wife wrote before her death. Her study notes on the Bible and her journals are precious because she wrote them with her own hand. They are a part of her that remains to this day — her words, thoughts, and observations. A piece of her life while she lived that will live on well into the future.

I admit, when I first started using computers in the early 80s, they were a marvel. The advantages they provided in business were unparalleled. I am thankful for the productivity increases and the fantastic output they could create. But there is still something unique about writing things by hand.

Looking at what you have written with ink on paper is like viewing art. It exists because you created it. It is unique to you, your thoughts captured in a way they can be experienced in the future by anyone who reads them.

Look at it this way -would you rather have a handwritten note from the one you love or an email or text saying the exact words? A handwritten note seems far more personal to me, but I am of an older generation, so you be the judge.

With so much technology available today, how much handwriting do you do? While you can use a stylus to write on a tablet or computer, it is not the same as putting pen to paper. What might you be missing? The power that comes from writing things down does not come in any other way.

Are you familiar with the story of Andrew Carnegie’s experience with writing goals on paper? As a young man, Carnegie handwrote his primary lifetime goal on a piece of paper. The note, discovered in a desk drawer after his death, said:

“I will spend the first half of my life earning a fortune and the second half of my life giving it all away.” Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919)

Andrew Carnegie was no ordinary man. He was one of the wealthiest men ever to live. He gave away 90% of his fortune during his final 18 years of life, an equivalent of $65 billion today. Did his handwritten goal as a young man come true? You be the judge, but to my mind, he came close enough! Especially considering he was responsible for building nearly 1800 libraries in the USA and more than 2500 worldwide!

“Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants; cant’s into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality. Don’t just think it — ink it! Michael Korda (1933-present)

Writing defined

Before discussing the benefits of handwriting, let’s look at its definition:

writing (noun) — the activity or skill of marking coherent words on paper and composing text. Oxford Languages

I love how the dictionary puts it as “marking” coherent words on paper. Do you not absolutely leave your mark beyond mere words when you put pen to paper?

“Print is predictable and impersonal, conveying information in a mechanical transaction with the reader’s eye. Handwriting, by contrast, resists the eye, reveals its meaning slowly, and is as intimate as skin.” Ruth Ozeki (1956-present)

Three ways writing by hand can help you

While other benefits exist for writing by hand, the following three are well-proven. Check out some of the links within the text to learn more about their specifics.

Handwriting has mindfulness characteristics.

Studies show the neurological benefit of writing by hand is similar to meditation and mindfulness. I can attest to this from personal experience. Writing with pen and paper slows you down, letting you become more fully present. It helps you think more deeply and see perspectives you may miss when using a keyboard. Is it any wonder there is so much depth in the writing of those who wrote before modern technology existed?

Handwriting improves physical health.

The health benefits of handwriting are well known. Proven health benefits include boosting the immune system and helping you recover from an injury more quickly. You can also sleep sounder and longer by merely spending a few minutes writing what you are grateful for each evening.

Handwriting improves psychological health.

Did you know writing by hand can reduce stress, strengthen emotional functions, and sharpen brain activity to help you learn better? Handwriting also stimulates and trains the brain in ways a keyboard cannot. It keeps your memory sharp and enhances creativity as well

“Handwriting is more connected to the movement of the heart.” Natalie Goldberg (1948-present)

Final thoughts

Writing longhand provides a nice break from the keyboard from time to time. If you have not used a quality writing instrument for some time, why not indulge? There is nothing quite like the feeling of laying ink down on paper from a fine pen. If you will leave any of your best writing to others after you die, why not do it in your handwriting instead of only by digital means?

After my first wife died of cancer at a young age, there is little that I treasure more than the books, journals, notes, letters, and cards she left. Knowing she wrote them with her hand has real meaning. It is a way of remembering her as the great woman and mother she was.

“Sending a handwritten letter is becoming such an anomaly. It’s disappearing. My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there’s something visceral about opening a letter — I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting.” Steve Carell (1962-present)

Set the keyboard aside for a few hours now and then, and pick up a pen and paper. You may be surprised at the ideas and creativity that result!

I leave you with two of my favorite quotes. One to ponder, the other to act on!

“Handwriting is civilization’s casual encephalogram.” Lance Morrow (1939-present)
“Only three percent of adults have [handwritten] goals, and everyone else works for them.” Brian Tracy (1944-present)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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