We live in a world where technology drives almost everything. That’s why when you need something, you can simply Google or find an app for it. Some may argue that writing things down on paper is now useless or unnecessary, particularly due to the prevalence and efficiency of computers and smartphones. So, why bother having a physical journal when there are thousands of apps for that?

Even in these modern times, you can still see many IT experts using notebooks for note-keeping. Is it just because they are used to the old-fashioned way, or could there be something valuable in the activity?

This blog explores eight advantages of writing by hand over typing – or “when the pen is mightier than the keyboard,” as they say.


1. Increased Focus

Notifications from social media sites and calls and messages to attend to often push us to fiddle with our devices numerous times a day – sometimes for several hours straight. A study revealed that average users touch their phones over 2,600 times daily.

As useful as technology is, our devices are not suitable for specific activities, especially those requiring our focus. That’s why many people turn to their pens and notebooks. A recent study by the University of Tokyo shows that writing on physical paper encourages more brain activity than using a smartphone. The same research even claims that the participants finished their note-taking task 25% more quickly than people who utilised digital devices.


2. Learning Aid

You’ve probably noticed that writing something down helps you retain the information more efficiently. And no, it’s not just you, as it is backed by science.

Researchers concluded that writing could even aid learning, which is why it is a useful activity for students. This experiment involved students who took notes by hand and another that used computer-aided transcription. Those that used an auto-transcriber had longer messages, but those in longhand had a more condensed version. However, the latter performed better in a test conducted after because they could remember what they wrote.


3. Goal-Setting

When you have goals, it’s useful to write them down in your physical journal instead of typing them into your smartphone notes or other apps. It may not come as a surprise that writing with a pen needs more mental energy compared to keyboard typing. After all, you take a longer time to think before you write words down.

Typing on your computer or phone keyboard is so convenient because the words can be quickly erased. You can start over without worries, whereas you could mess up an entire page of your personalised journal with your mistakes.

Keeping a physical journal in your office/room serves as a visual reminder that it exists and is waiting to be written in.


4. Idea Development

Another great benefit of writing by hand is that you can think and write it down on paper.  It may not seem much, but it is an effective technique that successful people have used for centuries. Writing in your journal can help you conceive and improve your existing ideas.

Most people feel more inspired to look back at what they have written than what they have typed. Plus, it’s much easier to visualise your concepts and arrange your thoughts, sparking creativity further.


5. Memory Support

We’ve talked about how writing things down helps improve information recall. It is true, and it’s backed by science. Simply put, if you want to make sure you remember something, write it down. You can have the most eidetic memory, but there’s always that time when you need to find written materials for reference. This is where journal writing helps.

Writing with a digital device can be sufficient at times. However, using a pen and paper may be more effective. A 2011 study delved deep into the subject of note-taking and how it could aid memory and comprehension. The result showed that participants who wrote down what they watched and read performed better in remembering the topics at hand.


6. Heritage Value

Speaking of remembering, you most likely write things in your journal that you consider treasured memories. Several years down the road, you may want to look back and read what you have written. You may even want to pass the notebook to your children. It’s an exciting way to record your history as you see it with your eyes.

It always helps to have a durable, high-quality journal to preserve your writing. A handmade leather journal will last for years, and you’ll surely be proud to hand it out to the next generation.

When choosing between handwriting and typing a journal, it is important to consider your goals for journaling.


7. Meditation Effects

Writing is calming, almost similar to the benefits of meditation. Your journal is not just meant to write down important notes or reminders to help you with work. You can also write about your feelings and the worthwhile memories you want to memorialise on paper. Plus, the physical act of holding a pen and putting words in your journal is soothing and encourages mindful concentration.


8. Creative Expression

Writing in your journal inspires creativity. When you write with a pen and paper, it stays right there on the page where you left it. Sure, there may be rewrites, long arrows, and smaller scribbles to correct a passage or move a word or paragraph. But all those corrections show that you can look over your mistakes and reconsider.

When you write on the screen, the activity is far more ephemeral. Deleting a sentence almost always means no reconsideration.

A physical journal can serve as an incubator for your memories, dreams, and creative projects. It helps loosen up your expressive muscles and enjoy the therapeutic and mental benefits you can only get when you write with your pen and paper.

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