Peggy Bechko’s World: Smarten Up, Write in Longhand

cursive

by Peggy Bechko

Writing By Hand Can Make You Smarter.

True?

Not true?

Turns out there’s a lot of info out there to support true.

So I’m not old fashioned and crotchety because I still prefer to write some things by hand. But wait, don’t some groups advocate not even teaching cursive writing?

Big mistake.  Just check out  a study by Pam Mueller, a Princeton psychologygraduate student when this article was written back in July 2015.According to the study folks who took notes in class longhand retained more and comprehend more than their fellow students pecking away at computer keyboards and actually taking more notes because they could take them faster.

So, what does that mean for writers? Put away your computer and grab a pen and notebook when in the planning stages of your next project. Whether article with research or novel (also with research – just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean you don’t have to have the facts straight) or screen script (ditto).

It appears that typing might be just fine once the writer is rolling, creating whatever it is they’re creating, but apparently writing notes longhand is a much better method to trigger memory and the synthesizing of collected information than typing or pecking at a phone screen.

Don’t believe it?  Then you might want to give it a try. I have over the years. Having written novels, published with major houses and optioned screen scripts in addition to articles and ghosting, I’ve tried almost every method of producing my work. I’ve tried every idea to try to shortcut the process, but there are some things that just don’t take kindly to short-cutting and memory and processing information are apparently two of those.

I mean, not only did those student in the study type notes much faster than they could write them, but it didn’t gain them anything. In fact, they lost ground against their longhand note-taking companions. Not only that, but they had less comprehension of what notes they did take. Not only that, but when they tried going back and studying the copious notes they’d taken on laptops, they actually did worse on the tests.

Hmmmm. Ever find yourself taking lots of notes from an  interview on your computer as a professional writer, feeling like you raced to keep up? Then, did you go back over your notes and nearly wonder who took them in the first place since you can’t remember what was said?

It seems like if you take the notes by hand, you’re more involved, more inside the subject matter.

My notes are a mess, my handwriting would probably get a ‘D’, but when I compare them to what I tried to take once up on a time on my computer when I read those notes they trigger memories and associations. I find myself more fully engaged and when the time comes to get it all down into a document, the flow is swift and smooth.

The long and the short of it is, keep writing. Keep writing by hand to focus the writer in you. Keep a notebook handy. (come on, you know you love thoseMoleskines anyway – and they come in cool colors and black too!).

There’s no doubt it works. Something about our brains… whatever… my creative partner Charlene Brash Sorensen and I create our outlines, plot ideas, scripts, even comic blocks for Planet Of The Eggs by hand on note paper before we even begin working with our comic creating software. Charlie prefers graph paper – I prefer lined.

Save the tech stuff or later. Start writing by hand.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. This post was originally published on her glorious blog. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page