When I was back in middle and high school, teachers would always try to impart a few words to the wise to get me prepared for college and the succeeding working world. I tried to hold on to every piece of information that I could and adopt it into my life. It has been 5 years since I first embarked on my college journey and moreover my journey into adulthood, and every day since employed a repertoire of advice from every experience I have had along the way. Some I use more than others but as my world becomes more and more digital, one that definitely stuck out was that after high school there wouldn’t be a need for written works.
My college experience, though unconventional in many ways, was filled with traditional college tropes. The parties, Greek Life, Campus Events, Roommates that budded into lifelong friendships and much more. Between the laughs and fun, there were actually classes (who would have thought). On the first day of my first large lecture, I sat in a room with 80 other unsuspecting students waiting for the professor’s arrival. As time went on I pulled out my notebook and pen preparing to take notes and I noticed I sat the only one pen to paper amongst a digitized sea.
I come from an under-served community where devices weren’t allowed in classes and if they were many of the families couldn’t afford them, so this was strange for me. As the lecture progressed I took notes the old fashioned way and was able to retain much of the information being taught. A quick glance around the class would reveal that no one was paying attention. My peers had fallen victim to the distraction that was social media and didn’t look up from their screens once during the lecture. I kept a mental note and made it a priority not to bring my laptop to class unless it was required for the lesson. That would be one of the reasons I was successful in that class, the other being the fact that it wasn’t an 8 am.
Inking Your Success
British Novelist, Jon McGregor says that “Writing on the screen is far more ephemeral – a sentence deleted can’t be reconsidered. Also, you know, the internet.” Technology is wonderful, and I will always be a proponent of technological advancements, but in some cases, nothing is better than the tried and true methods we have been using for years. Here are the 4 reasons why writing instead of typing, is better for your work.
It Gets Those Synapses Firing
Whether you are hard at work or just standing in line, your brain is firing information across synapses to keep you functioning properly. They are the driving force behind cognition and movement. Studies show that handwriting is important for cognition and brain development. Writing instead of typing can be the difference in whether or not you pass the test or if you perform well on a specific task. Patricia Ann Wade, a learning specialist with Indiana University’s School of Medicine accounts that “Writing entails using the hand and fingers to form letters … the sequential finger movements activate multiple regions of the brain associated with processing and remembering information,” Writing keeps your brain working hard so you can remain as sharp as ever.
It Gets Ideas out Faster
I cannot tell you how many times, I have gotten a great idea, and they pour out faster than I can type. I then am trying to focus on getting the idea out and also focusing on typing legible sentences. It’s moot if I can get the idea out but it doesn’t make sense when I go back to read it. Writing allows the brain to focus on the content, rather than the format. When I write on paper my hand is like one with my brain. They are in sync and my work is always better because I drafted it in a notebook.
It Limits Distractions.
Similar to my college anecdote from earlier, employees at work are susceptible to distraction. You glance at Facebook for a second and suddenly you’re 20 minutes deep into the Buzzfeed archives taking a quiz to find out what kind or pizza you are. Remove the screen and you remove the temptation to take little breaks. Your digital device is like a vacuum, constantly sucking up your attention and time. Between all the apps, you have a source of endless distraction. It’s hard to keep yourself accountable when there is constant engagement from the different applications. From game notifications reminding you that you haven’t played in a while to Instagram notifications telling you that an old friend has posted for the first time in a while, and cat Gifs…
…I told you so! It’s better to limit those distractions by drafting your work on paper and finalizing on a digital device after.
It Sparks Creativity
I’ve had pieces bloom from a doodle I did on the corner of a page. I may have had a temporary writer’s block and took a second to doodle absentmindedly, I now have an idea. For me staring at a blank computer screen limits my work. It put expectations on the piece I’m working on. As soon as I turn on the screen my mind decides that I should have an idea ready to go and if I don’t, my thought become “I need an idea now!” That type of thinking is toxic to creativity. The paper gives me the freedom to create freely without stifling my ideas.
Our successes often rely on technological innovations, but where would these innovations be without the trusted pen and paper? Japanese architect, Tadao Ando says it best, “The computer offers another kind of creativity. You cannot ignore the creativity that computer technology can bring. But you need to be able to move between those two different worlds.” No matter how much technology will improve, it is always important to keep pieces from past innovations. Don’t go scraping your computers just yet. Try carrying a small notebook and pen with you and watch your ideas blossom.