Some people admit to not using proper pen and paper for writing since their high school years. This is a sad notion but not an alarming one, considering that it’s not that important in the business world.
Even writers, famously always carrying a notebook with them, are now seen carrying laptops more often than not.
People have forgotten how good it feels to just sit and jot down your thoughts. It takes you to another place and it can really be an amazing and insightful feeling. We should do it more often if nothing then for the stress relief.
But even though this is our current situation, scientists have continued to research and study the effects handwriting can have on our brains and cognitive function.
For the first time, scientists have used fMRI scanners to test and see how the brain of a writer works during the writing process and how writing improves our cognitive function. Dr. Martin Lotze, from Germany, invited both professional writers and those new to the art and asked them to indulge themselves with some creative writing.
As their patients wrote, scientists along with Dr. Martin Lotze could see how the various parts of the brain are working together to create stories that they were writing. Both the novice and professional writers had the similar process in their brain and improved cognitive function.
However, professional writers showed some similarities to people who are skilled and trained professionals in complex actions like playing music or doing sports. Dr. Lotze has devoted a part of his career to exploring artistic expression.
He developed a special desk for his subjects that allowed them to both write and stay still in the fMRI. He first gave them a text to copy, as a way to have a baseline for further research. Later he gave them a few lines of a short story and their job was to come up with the rest. They had a few minutes to brainstorm before writing.
His results showed that some regions of the brain are not active when copying but only when creating new stories.
Some regions became active as subjects were brainstorming and some grew more active as they started writing their story down.
Professional writers, however, had different results – as they were brainstorming their speech regions activated while with novice writers, their visual regions activated as well as cognitive function improved. They have concluded that this is probably due to new writers watching their story as a film and professionals narrating it with their inner voice.
Differences appeared when the two groups were writing as well – with professional writers a region of the brain used for practiced and learned complex skills activated while that didn’t happen for new writers.
However, some scientist state that this study cannot be used as fact since creativity is so fickle and different for each person.
But, the benefits of writing by hand, no matter is what you are writing fiction or nonfiction, have been proved many times before. Handwriting improves your motor skills as well as some of your brain functions.
How Writing Helps
1. It’s useful in real life situations
Writing is a useful skill to practice, as at some point in your life, you’ll probably need it. Not only that, practicing any form of writing – be it on keyboard or paper – can improve your public speaking and your vocabulary.
Writing skills matter, especially when looking for a job and maintaining that job. Higher paid positions often include writing business emails, plans and strategies – writing can also improve your eloquence when speaking publicly.
2. It’s a good way to boost your creativity
Writing is one of the best ways to show off your creativity. Write short stories, poems or essays and immerse yourself in your imaginations – create worlds with your words.
While skilled writers have the knowledge to write long books and stories, novice writers can use tools like State Of Writing or Via writing. This is helpful for those who want to write quality stories but have no previous experience.
3. It relieves stress and promotes good mental health
There are many other ways to benefit from writing, as experts say.
Creating to-do lists every night before bed helps you let go of some of your stress and relax. It also helps you manage your goals and daily tasks. Utilize this useful way of writing to benefit your mental health and decrease your stress levels.
Another thing that has an impact on your brain activity is the community. Research has shown that having a sense of belonging to a group of people is beneficial for your cognitive function. You can combine these two by joining a community of writers where you’ll learn a lot of new things and improve your mental health at the same time.
Because writing is relaxing, it also improves your sleeping patterns, your work ethic, and your general mood.
While typing on the keyboard can be useful and easy, you should try writing by hand. It improves your mental state, cognitive function and helps you let go of some stress. Create a journal or a diary where you’ll write about your feelings and you’ll feel better almost instantly.