The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard

I’ve always been a writer. Mostly in my journal, for myself. In-depth conversations with my heart. Handwritten words from soul to paper. But, the rest of my life is spent on this keyboard and on my even smaller phone keyboard.


I’ve become used to reliant on what technology has given us. I’m on my laptop and phone all day, almost every day. Over the years, I’ve used all sorts of note-taking apps to digitally capture information and insights from conferences, meetings, and conversations. I’ve appreciated their ease of use.


But, have I learned and retained the information in the best way possible? If you’re on the same digital and typing tip, has it been the best bet for you?


Sorry to break it to you, but you’ve been learning at only partial capacity because of your typing habit. What, the what?


I’ve learned recently what’s been proven through neuroscience and psychology studies on the power of handwriting: our memory, information retention, comprehension, and brain health are positively affected by the act of writing.


It may seem faster and more convenient to type notes but fast convenience doesn’t always mean better. (Does it ever?)


Studies show that although memory recall may be better immediately after typing notes versus handwriting, that advantage drops precipitously after 24 hours. Also, handwriting means you’re picking and choosing the most important bits to remember as you write because you can’t get as much down as quickly. And among other advantages, your brain will be healthier because more areas light up on brain scans, and are therefore are being used when you handwrite versus type.


I’m starting to feel bad for my brain as I sit here typing.


If you want to treat your brain to an energy boost and learn through better strategies, it’s time to go back to how your brain retains information best.


At meetings, lectures and events, write your notes. Reading and learning online is great. It’s convenient. It’s ubiquitous. But, if you want to retain the most and in the best way possible, write your notes. If you’re learning from a book, write your notes. You can always transcribe them later into electronic documents. That additional act will also help with your retention and comprehension.


Oh, and if you’re worried about looking old school with your pen and journal, remind the youngsters and tech junkies around you that when it comes to learning new things, creating new habits, and achieving more the path is paved by the pen…the newest science says so.


I’m a neuroscience nerd and am currently getting certified in Applied Neuroscience. If you have any questions or want additional resources on this subject, please let me know in the comments below.

2 Responses

  1. Hi Corissa, I loved your perception on ink on paper. I totally agree with you on taking notes, hand and pen to paper. this also works really well with capturing your dreams in the morning. Especially, when you have your dream journal by your bed.

    1. Yes, I agree. I love doing that Renee and haven’t done it in a while. Thanks for the great reminder! Have you ever worked with Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way? One of her core exercises is called Morning Pages. You write in a free form, stream of consciousness way as soon as you wake up in the morning, not just about dreams but about anything that comes into your mind. Anything from the mundane to the profound. Part brain-dump. Part magical unfiltered creativity. Here’s a link to learn more about it, if you’re interested:

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