Some thoughts about handwriting


It’s beginning of 2016 and we’re in the middle of the digital age. Displays everywhere, all our music and friends in the pocket and the ubiquitous internet is keeping the addictive information-flow alive.

That said – how can writing with a pen on paper survive? And why should it?

Let’s lean back and think about the meaning of handwriting today… There will be more questions than answers in this article.


For about 30 years now, people type on keyboards and technology is evolving faster than ever. Ten year old kids are typing as quick as good secretaries. With touch screens you don’t hear the remarkable click-click-clicking and I’m waiting for the day when words will simply appear on the screen transmitted with brain power…

All the centuries before, people were carefully writing letters and words with ink on paper or some other material at hand. Meaningful thoughts and ideas and simple notes had been stored on paper – even the first idea of a typewriter must have been written and sketched on paper.

Is it possible that all those years of handwriting – generation by generation – somehow formed us? On one hand the written language was a result of evolution, but on the other hand it maybe was the cause for a further step of the human evolution. If so, parts of us (brain, hands?) must have been adapted to the skill of writing and not doing handwriting would mean not using those body-parts’ capabilities… And eventually: is advanced civilization possible without writing?


When I went to university ten years ago, just a minority of us had a laptop in the lectures (don’t ask me why, it’s Germany). I’ve always printed out the script and made notes into it during the lessons, which then made the lecture notes complete and understandable.

For exams then, it was more a kind of reviewing those notes than a deep researching. It felt like it was already in the back of the head and just needed to be re-activated.

Nowadays, I hear most of the students are sitting there with laptops and typing in everything without filtering (sounds like the big data approach, but with limited capacities).

Wouldn’t it be better to understand what had been said in the first place, instead of recording it and trying to get the point later? There are studies, which prove that longhand note taking is working better than typing.

Maybe, our memory simply prefers handwriting from a biological point of view. My believe is that when we write something, we create something. That means, when we hear some information and we write it down in our own words, we re-create that piece of information. So, the steps in between are:

– hear information

– understand meaning

– re-phrase it

– write it down

And having done that, it is like we have “created” that little piece of knowledge. For some reason it seems not to be the same with typewriting…


Now let’s talk about the role of writing for setting and achieving goals.

Let’s get a little philosophical and presume that everything exists in three levels of reality (if you know, where I got this from, please tell me in the comments – I can’t find it…), which are thinking, speaking and making.

An example would be:

You think of a bouquet of flowers. At this moment that bouquet exists in your mind.

You describe that bouquet. Now it exists on the speaking level. (Now, people who hear your description can imagine the bouquet and thus make it exist in their minds).

You take flowers and tie them = make that bouquet. Now it exists on all three levels of reality. Everyone can see and touch it and everyone can describe and imagine it.

If we accept that every creation process runs through these three levels, we understand that writing about an idea or goal must be somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd step. That is because you describe the idea in your words and because writing is an act of creating on it’s own – especially handwriting, as there you eventually get an object in form of a piece paper which is covered with writing.

This, I think is the main reason why writing ideas down is a key step on the way to make them come true. Plus it can be the momentum that you need to actually start doing it.

Finally, allow me some stupid comparisons to food…

chatting on the internet / reading digital text (similar to this) / typewriting = fast food

live conversation / reading a real book / handwriting = good three-course menu

Small remark

You see that I didn’t link much to some scientific sources to back my theories. That was because I didn’t find any or it’s not important. Simply said:

everything I write is just an opinion, not a fact

and this article is rather food for thought, not a search for truth.

Let’s make things real, let’s be creators.

PS: I’m looking forward to your comments and emails.


Image source: Helloquence / unsplash.com