Benefits of Writing

Benefits of Writing

Writing things out by hand will help you remember them.

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Don't throw away your old notebooks just yet. According to experts, sticking with a pen and paper has some serious benefits (and it has nothing to do with going nuts in the newsagent stationery aisle).

In fact, writing by hand appears to improve our ability to remember things, meaning even in today's tech-obsessed society, the pen just might be mightier than Word.

"When we write by hand, we have to coordinate verbal and fine movement systems," Dr. Helen Macpherson of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University told The Huffington Post Australia. "And when we learn new information, for example at school or in a university lecture, we don't write verbatim, which means we have to create our own summaries and concepts.

"Basically, because we can keep pace typing but we can't keep pace with handwriting, it means we have different ways of encoding the information, which in turn leads to richer memory."

For this reason, some universities are encouraging students to ditch their laptops in lectures and take notes by hand.

"Because you can't possibly write everything, you have written in a style that allows you to get maximum information from the minimum output," Jared Hovarth, from University of Melbourne's Science of Learning Research Center told HuffPost Australia.

"You can't write 50 words, you can only write five. So you pick the five keywords that will help you remember the point. This means you process that information on a deeper level because you've deciphered what the content is, how it links together, and then picked the five keywords that best summarise that content.

"I see this with students all the time in their note-taking. Those on laptops will write hundreds of more words, but if I ask them, 'what did we just talk about?' the answer will be something like, 'mmmm, I'm not 100 percent sure, I was going to take a look at that later.' The idea being, while they were typing, they weren't really connecting to or processing the information, but they were more focused on getting everything down.

"However, you can process it while you are writing by hand, and that can make a big difference."

The fact writing by hand takes us longer isn't the only aspect contributing to richer memory. It also has to do with the very skills it takes to write something in the first place.

"There is a real linearity to a computer," Hovarth said. "When you are typing, you are always going straight, whereas, with handwriting, you are circling, you're going up and down, you are drawing lines backward -- it's very different.

"The very nature of handwriting means you have to write and organize as you are thinking, and that kind of organization affects how you are interpreting the information.

"It's the way the handwriting forces you to organize your thoughts that leads to deeper processing."

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