Here’s an interesting post about handwriting and creativity, and it made me wonder: do I write a better story if I’m writing longhand, or typing on the computer?
A few years ago, I would have said, “Longhand!” without any hesitation. I am, after all, old enough to have finished all my schooling before computers became commonplace. All my creative writing was done in longhand. Even after I started using computers to write, I still frequently wrote it out first on paper, and then typed it in.
I couldn’t think unless I had a pen and paper in my hand, and many studies have shown that our brains’ “creative side” actively engages when we write in longhand. For most of my life, I knew without doubt this happened to me. When I picked up pen and paper, part of my brain would “turn on,” and begin processing ideas into sentences and paragraphs. I swear I could feel it happening.
I used to wonder what would happen if people stopped writing longhand. It seems to make so much sense, that the brain and hand are linked, with nerve impulses shooting back-and-forth between them. Writing longhand seemed essential. I’m not sure how important cursive writing is – I tend to write in a blend of print and cursive. Very badly, too. I have awful penmanship.
However, now I write all the time on the computer. All of my books have been written that way. It’s almost too hard to settle down with a pen and paper, unless I’m making a grocery list. This astonishes me, because I believe it means that my brain has actually adapted to a new technology. That’s quite an accomplishment for a brain that’s on the far side of 50!
While I’m not ready to say schools should stop teaching cursive, I do think we don’t need to worry about our children’s brains losing the ability to think creatively. These kids have grown up using typing as a normal and active part of communication. When they sit down to create something using a keyboard and computer, their brains probably function exactly like ours did when we sat down with pen and paper. I think it happens because they are calling on the same process we called on. That process doesn’t change just because the trigger is different.
What do you think?