With swipe technology to help us communicate on our mobile devices and computer keyboards to help writers pound out the next great American novel, it seems there's little use for handwriting. Generation Y (those who are now 18 to 33) has grown up feeling comfortable and confident with technology, but some would argue that the familiarity borders on dependence. It turns out, though, that handwriting is still an essential skill for us Millennials today, and it will be for generations to come. Here are five reasons why handwriting is important, even in the digital age.
1. Handwriting Engages the Brain
Manipulating and drawing letters by hand engages the brain in ways that looking at them on a screen cannot. According to the Wall Street Journal, a 2008 study demonstrated that adults who drew new characters had stronger and longer-lasting recognition of their proper orientation than those who typed them. Finger movements activate areas of the brain that aid in language and memory.
More specifically, writing stimulates the reticular activating system (RAS) that gives more importance to the activity that you're focusing on. When you're writing, you're engaging the system that tells your brain to pay attention.
2. No One Writes Like You Do
Handwriting is unique to each individual. Every slant, curve and scribble in your writing is distinctive from that of others. Perhaps that's also why family members treasure journals, letters and cards written by loved ones who have since passed away. Since you need to practice your handwriting skills anyway, pen a letter to a friend or relative today. What a nice surprise it will be to get a handwritten note instead of another bill or piece of junk mail.
3. Handwriting is Revealing
Handwriting can also tell you a lot about someone's personality. Handwriting experts often analyze the writings of celebrities and criminals to decipher their state of mind at the time of the writing. Known as graphology, handwriting analysis examines the size of a person's writing, the spacing between words, loops, dots, lines, speed, slant and more to learn more about someone.
Graphologists have analyzed the writings of many notorious figures such as Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy to reveal personality disorders, domineering attitudes and self-centeredness, among other undesirable traits. Even the handwriting of your favorite celebs often reveals a need for attention and a strong desire for control. Consider what your handwriting may say about you before scrawling an angry note to your roommate for drinking all of the milk.
4. Writing is Still a Major Form of Assessment in Schools
Despite schools incorporating technology such as tablets and laptops in the classroom, most of a student's tests are written. This is especially true in high school and college when essays play a prominent role in the test-taking experience. You must be able to use a pen or pencil to put ideas to paper within certain time constraints. Those who are unable to write clearly, quickly and comfortably may underachieve academically.
Handwriting is especially important for the essay portions of college entrance examinations, such as the SAT. Although the essay graders practice reading many different types of handwriting and don't officially penalize for bad handwriting, it can be difficult to follow along with terrible handwriting. Not being able to read one or two words can change the meaning of a sentence or make your thoughts seem fragmented.
5. The Computer Can Hinder Writing
Most writers worth their salt will tell you to write first and edit later. Easier said than done when editing is as easy as hitting a backspace key or highlighting some text and tapping the delete button. It is important, however, to recognize that editing while writing hinders the thought process. It interrupts the flow of ideas, and in some cases, fear of writing something incorrectly can lead to writers block.
Handwriting is a great exercise for keeping writer's block at bay. While you're scribbling out your story, essay or article—or at least the main ideas—you achieve two things. First, you engage your brain more fully, enabling you to think clearly. Second, your thoughts can flow more freely because you know that a handwritten draft is not the finished piece. It gives you more creative freedom, which can later be polished when it's typed out.
As you can see, the reasons for continuing handwriting range from sentimental to scientific. However, all are good reasons to reach for your pen and notepad now and then instead of the keyboard. You can even get stamps made in your handwriting, like at http://www.completerubberstamps.com.