Writing is experiencing a resurgence in popularity
Communication today is done almost exclusively through our digital devices. With little effort, we can 0store information and send it around the world. However, despite the many advantages of digital communication, a rediscovery of the culture of writing is beginning to emerge. This is evidenced by the rapidly increasing sales figures of writing instrument manufacturers. In fact, there are excellent reasons to reach for pen and paper and to cultivate the habit of writing once more. We present the seven most important reasons here:
1. Writing stimulates creativity
Researchers found that when we move our hand while writing, the brain regions responsible for speaking and thinking are stimulated. The simultaneous action of thinking and moving our hand activates the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Hence, written texts contain more intricate sentence structures and are more expressive.
Our choice of writing instruments affect our experience of writing. Unlike typing, which involves making repetitive strokes on the same surface, our hands glide over the paper in varied strokes. As we write, we feel the pen in our hand and the movement of our body. Through these complex experiences, we feel more connected to the physical world, and are more likely to express ourselves creatively.
Writing as a sensual experience
Writing gives us something to hold in our hands. This allows abstract thoughts to take on concrete form. Because the sensations from writing are more intense and complex, what we write is also more personal and more strongly anchored in our memory. Writing is therefore also a sensual experience and an expression of our personality. This stimulates our creativity more than the mechanical functions of a keyboard.
Writing sharpens concentration
When we write, we have to concentrate better to avoid mistakes that are not so easily corrected. Without text replacement functions or autocorrect, we are forced to think through our ideas before we pen them down. Hence, writing creates an environment of mindfulness that stimulates creativity, allowing us to generate more ideas. This is especially helpful for people in creative occupations. Writers, visual artists and architects still record their first drafts and sketches on paper, and calligraphy is still highly regarded as an art form.
2. More effective learning
We remember facts better when we write them by hand. Just as the pen imprints words onto paper, when we write, our movement patterns are etched into our memory. When our mind associates words with the actions required to make them, we engage our senses to learn in both kinaesthetic and visual ways. This strengthens the neural networks associated with our learning materials.
Writing strengthens memory
Students who write during a lecture are much better at remembering course content than those who work on a laptop. Those who write are often forced to evaluate what they hear before writing. Students who make notes on paper before a class assignment often do not even have to use them because they were able to memorise the information while writing.
We can also take advantage of this benefit in our daily lives. When organising work and coordinating appointments, writing to-do lists helps us to visualise and prioritise what has to be done.
In addition, we can exercise our haptic abilities by writing. This makes the use of fountain pens and ballpoint pens a great way for older people to stay mentally fit.
3. Writing shows greater appreciation for those around you
Today, only 7 percent of all letters sent are handwritten. The use of letters, cards and greetings have decreased in popularity as people move their communication online. However, handwritten letters affect humans in emotional ways: It creates trust, is a sign of sincerity and appreciation and can even spark a romantic relationship. We should make use of this to write more!
Our handwriting gives a text its own unique character. When we know that someone has taken time to write to us, their letter is often received with much delight and appreciation. Compared to a hastily typed message, writing can convey the gravity of our feelings. It is no wonder that we are more delighted to receive a handwritten birthday card than a well-wishing text. It is also unthinkable to send a love letter by email!
Writing conveys one’s character and emotions
Graphologists have managed to determine the character traits of a person by means of one’s handwriting. How we feel can also be observed through the way we write. When we are upset, our hand may squeeze our fountain pen harder, causing curves to become more sweeping. A shaky hand may cause lines to be crooked. Stains from tears, coffee or red wine can also contribute to the perception of one’s writing environment.
Writing to express customer loyalty
The effect of writing has long been present in the business world: Start-ups, medium-sized companies and corporations encourage their employees to write messages, invitations or appointments by hand. This gives the customer the feeling that he is personally addressed. In luxury markets such as jewellery, fashion and art, it has even become established to have invitation cards written by professional calligraphers.
Writing is therefore not only for lovers of aesthetics, but also contains benefits that you should also take advantage of.
4. Writing instruments as status symbols
In the age of digital communication, writing instruments are held as status symbols. Our choice of writing instrument can leave an indelible impression on those around us, particularly in professional settings. Pulling out a plastic pen in a business outfit often shows a lack of style. In contrast, using a high-quality writing instrument can exude confidence and reliability to our customers, superiors and business partners
Writing instruments, much like watches, very subtly signal your social position. Amongst the cognoscenti, there is no need to flaunt our ownership of luxury products. Those of the higher classes are familiar with these things.
Writing instruments are also a good choice of gift for people who “have everything”.
Understatement is chic today
The use of status symbols has changed dramatically since the financial crisis. Today, the stylish want to be discreetly regarded. Instead of putting up flamboyant displays akin to football stars and B-list celebrities, understatement has become the new chic. Luxury goods manufacturers are deliberately doing away with large logos, and only connoisseurs would know the value of a limited edition leather bag or pen. The conscious renunciation of ostentatious luxury has itself become the greatest status symbol.
For millenials alike, traditional markers of financial success are increasingly unimportant. Instead, attaining a mindful and sustainable quality of life has replaced the old standards of luxury. Goods that fit this lifestyle are often handmade and discreet, recognisable only on second glance. Pens that belong to this category are used only by those who value their longevity and unimposing quality. They enjoy the experience of their nib gliding across paper, and prefer using them over the years rather than throwing them away once the ink has dried up. In an age of mass production and throwaway culture, fine writing instruments stand as a sustainable approach to luxury. It also represents a timely return to the traditions of inheriting products that can be passed on as precious heirlooms.
5. Less distraction, more concentration
When we write by hand, we are less prone to distractions. Deprived of text replacement and autocorrect functions, we are forced to write more conscientiously. Although it may take more time than typing on a laptop, our earnestness causes our writing to be more definitive.
More focus without apps & social media
When typing on our digital devices, emails and messages can tear our focus away from the task at hand. In addition, the convenience of accessing social media and mobile games also tempt us to procrastinate. We often succumb to the idea that we can multitask – writing a report, answering text messages, and listening to music all at the same time. Unfortunately, our brain cannot process tasks simultaneously. Instead, it focuses on individual tasks sequentially. The high speed at which our brain does this gives us the impression that we can effectively work on different things at the same time. In reality, however, we are repeatedly pulled out of our thoughts and then thrust back into it. Slowing down and being mindful when writing by hand can therefore help us to focus better.
Like meditation, writing mindfully can elevate our quality of life. As a form of therapy, writing can help to cope with crises and illnesses, as well as promote personal development and self-management.
6. Availability, data security and archiving
Another advantage of writing is that it does not require electricity, and can be done ubiquitously. While many prefer to type in the shade to avoid the sun’s distracting glare on their screens, with pen and paper, you can enjoy the warmth of sunshine in the café or park and be productive at the same time.
Digital devices are also prone to malfunctions. These problems do not occur with writing. This also means that we do not have to worry about losing our data. Although digital archiving appears to be a great technical advantage, it is becoming increasingly obvious that file formats and digital interfaces do not last through the decades and may become obsolete. In contrast, historians today still have access to handwritten texts that people wrote over 2000 years ago!
Writings on paper are also far more secure against manipulation, loss or unauthorised access. It is much more difficult for strangers to access diaries, and personal letters than it is to access emails, apps and files.
But disruptions, data security and archiving are not the only problems:
Laptops, tablets and mobile phones do not have a long life expectancy. With planned obsolescence, they have to be replaced after only a few years. Not only is it harmful to the environment, the minerals required for electronic components are also often mined under inhumane conditions. Electronic devices are also costlier than a high quality fountain pen or ballpoint pen that can last throughout our lives, and even be passed down through generations.
7. Writing alleviates health issues
We all use mobile phones and laptops for hours throughout the day. However, the design of digital devices tends to limit us ergonomically. This creates a variety of health risks. Because the keyboard and screen are directly connected to each other, we cannot adapt them to the needs of our posture, and are forced to sit in an unnatural position for hours. However, when we write with a writing instrument, we can easily shift the paper and our body to a comfortable position.
One of the health problems caused by sitting in front of displays for long hours is “Repetitive Stress Injuries”. These are stress injuries triggered by repetitive movements. For example, when typing on the mobile phone, we jab our thumbs onto our screens repeatedly. Similar to swiping and scrolling, this often leads to the inflammation of our joints. Instead, writing offers us the opportunity to protect our bodies from damage to our health: When writing on paper, every movement is unique and individual. The stresses to our body are therefore alleviated.
Avoid eye and posture disorders
Digital devices not only stresses the muscles in our fingers and hands, our eyes are also strained by the glare of digital displays. Symptoms can include headaches, eye sores and impaired vision. The posture we adopt when using electronic devices is also crucial. When we arch our backs, bend our shoulders and lower our heads, our muscles stiffen and can lead to aches or even cause chronic damage to the cervical spine.
This article was first published in German here.