Benefits of Writing by Hand

“I can’t write.”

“I’m not a writer.”

“I’ve never been good at writing.”

Many people shy away from – or actively avoid – writing because they believe they’re “not writers” or “can’t write well.” Consider that maybe because writing is difficult for you that this is precisely why you might want to try it.

“Many people assume they are bad at writing because it is hard. This is like assuming you are bad at weightlifting because the weight is heavy. Writing is useful because it’s hard. It’s the effort at goes into writing a clear sentence that leads to better thinking.” (James Clear)

Research backs up the idea that writing leads to better thinking. It also has many other connected benefits. Writing by hand, according to research, is beneficial because it:

  1. Results in more activity in the region of the brain associated with learning.
  2. Promotes deep encoding (i.e., storing and recalling information).
  3. Slows down the brain, allows it to rest, and promotes creativity.
  4. Helps you think and figure out what to say.
  5. Builds connections with others.
  6. Clears the mind.

Do you struggle with focus? What about remembering/recalling what you read or hear? Do you struggle being creative or even slowing down your thoughts enough to think through basic ideas clearly? Maybe you’re completely out of the habit of thinking much at all and mostly let television, social media, or your coworkers do your thinking for you.

If you want to change your ability to think, remember, and focus, writing by hand is one of the most effective practices for doing so. It also provides an avenue for processing all the information coming at you – all that our culture is trying to put into your head – in ways that please God.

Transform Your Faith

The Bible has a lot to say about how to make sure our thought lives please God. Writing by hand can be a way to consistently make sure what you think lines up with God’s will by helping you to:

  1. Focus your thinking. (Philippians 4:8)
  2. Battle conformity. (Romans 12:2)
  3. Capture your thoughts. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

I’m not suggesting you write a book or weekly blog post. I’m not even suggesting you write anything that others will see. I am, however, asking you to consider how taking notes and finding ways to use writing to help you think and process information can propel your connections with other people and, more importantly, transform your faith by getting the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2).

Here are some simple suggestions for using writing to transform your faith:

  1. Journal pray. Write what you want to say to God instead of only thinking it.
  2. Reflect on Sunday sermons. Write a few sentences before bed on Sunday nights about what stood out to you and how you want to apply it in the coming week.
  3. Write out what you want to say to someone before you talk to them. You may not say what you write verbatim, but you’ll find that what you say comes out much more clearly.

Writing has had a therapeutic influence in my life for many years. Writing even saved my life as well as many of my relationships by allowing me to process and get out the overwhelming thoughts and frustrations saturating my mind instead of my acting on these emotions.

Writing still provides a way for me to feel less overwhelmed by life as I sort out my emotions on paper. Most significantly, it provides another way for the Holy Spirit to direct me in God’s will for my life. I invite you to discover the transformation that writing by hand can have in your life, too.