Writing by hand makes your brain wait

Writing by hand makes your brain wait

In writing by hand, we deliberately pause to make the brain wait. This forced interruption, called disfluency, yields more thoughtful writing.

There’s a reason many successful writers from David Foster Wallace to JK Rowling opt to write with pen and paper — longhand is intentionally slower than the click-clack of a keyboard. (Note: I encourage everyone to blog as another instrument of expression and a place to show your work).

When your mind moves as fast as the computer keys, you tend to overproduce. Taking down all the professor’s notes in class can backlash; while everything gets consumed, none of the words have staying power. But when you take notes by hand, you double your chances of remembering them.

Note-taking is all about succeeding slowly. There’s no such thing as a tranquil flood of information. Listening to the information being said and writing it down in your own words also helps you recall more information than typing it out.

Don’t be afraid to slow down and write longhand

It’s true: the more you get down, the more you have to play with. One writes continuously to push out ideas.

But acceleration can reduce the quality of your prose. The neurons need time to anchor the sea of thoughts in order to discover more clarity.

Whether you’re writing via keyboard or analog, all writing is in the edit. Having a writing process just makes it easier.