Writers often suggest that you type fast to get the ideas out of your head and onto the screen. This productivity hack may help you get into a flow state and achieve your daily word count, but it can also hurt the quality of your writing.
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A recent study published in the British Journal of Psychology reveals that typing with one hand pauses the brain just enough to process more complex words and sentences. Co-author of the study Mr. Srdan Medimorec explains the benefits of slowing down the pace of your writing:
“Typing can be too fluent or too fast, and can actually impair the writing process. It seems that what we write is a product of the interactions between our thoughts and the tools we use to express them.”
If you write on your mobile device like I do, you’ll notice that you often have no choice but to type with one hand–your thumb–especially when you’re on the go. What appears to be an inconvenience improves the quality of your prose. Notes the study’s other lead Evan F. Risko:
“This is the first study to show that when you interfere with people’s typing, their writing can get better. We’re not saying that students should write their term papers with one hand, but our results show that going fast can have its drawbacks. This is important to consider as writing tools continue to emerge that let us get our thoughts onto the proverbial page faster and faster.”
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The sound of one hand typing
Writing by hand shows a similar positive impact of disfluency–your pen can’t match the pace of your thoughts. The moments in-between, like deliberate interruptions, help produce more sophisticated writing. Conversely, writing too slow can make the quality of your writing worse.
The ideal writing environment therefore seems to be driven by tools (e.g. one-hand typing, analog writing, speech-to-text) that impede the pace of your output by allowing time to edit your thoughts before they get sketched onto screen or paper.
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