Thursday, February 17, 2011

Handwriting Good for Your Brain?

I've just read this fascinating article about how handwriting boosts your brainpower. I'm not trying to convince anyone that writing an entire first draft of a novel by hand is the way to go (even if that's my preferred method)but it does offer some interesting thoughts and research that seems to reinforce the benefits that handwriting gives to your brain function. Don't believe me? Here's some quotes from the article.

"handwriting helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development."


"Other research highlights the hand's unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, says handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding involves selecting a whole letter by touching a key."

"Pictures of the brain have illustrated that sequential finger movements activated massive regions involved in thinking, language and working memory—the system for temporarily storing and managing information."


Pretty cool, huh? Who knew my hanging on to an ancient practice was actually good for my brain and might even help me in 'composing thoughts and ideas"? Kind of important when one is writing a novel, dontcha think?

What do you think? Is this another flakey bit of research or do you think there's still a place in this techno age for scratching out words?

8 comments:

  1. I think there is a place for it. Sometimes I need just a notebook and pencil when brainstorming. I don't do the actual writing like that but then again - I never tried!

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  2. Hi Laura: I've heard that a lot of writers brainstorm with a pad and pencil. So there must be something about holding that stick that gets the creative juices flowing.

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  3. I think my hand cramps up just contemplating writing a whole novel longhand. ;)

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  4. I like drawing, and I'm a sucker for beautiful penmanship, so I want to believe this, but I have to agree with Linda -- a whole novel in handwriting would be punishment.

    However, to learn Japanese and Chinese you HAVE to write or you can't properly learn the characters. I've been writing out Chinese characters for the past 33 years and sometimes it feels like a huge waste of time. After reading this article, I can tell myself I'm not just keeping my characters, I'm perfecting my idea expression. Cool!

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  5. Hi Mary! I'm in awe that you've been working on learning Japanese and Chinese writing for so long. Your brain must be a super power by now!

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  6. I am thinking about writing out the next novel long hand...I just feel different, process different when I am not on the computer (does it keep me off the computer? No, lol) but I am wanting to try. Thanks for sharing this!

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  7. Hey, Deb! Good luck on the handwriting try out. Let me know how it turns out.

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