So, this morning I had to take out my checkbook. I grabbed a pen and started writing it.
I slowed down a bit, and noticed something. It suddenly occurred to me how rarely I do write something by hand. The truth is that my handwriting sucks. Even though I still have lots of Moleskine notebooks I basically use for grounding thoughts down. I barely use them. I use them less and less with each passing month.
… Do we still need to hand write? Did we reach a time when we stopped writing with our own hands, with a pen and paper?
The Digitization of Our Lives
The truth is that I can’t really remember when was the cut-off transition between the time when all of my writable documents were found on my desk, on solid paper, and the time when they moved to live in cloud-based repositories. This effectively came gradually, but rather fast.
The main utility of this shift is that these day-to-day accessible and editable documents can now be readily accessible from any of my devices. And, The most flagrant example is how quick I replaced losable paper-written “to do” lists with reminders apps that automatically synced with all my portable devices. Just awesome.
All of this is an undeniable source of productivity and increased comfort. But nevertheless, it would only be fair to notice that some things can get lost in all that digital noise. I shouldn’t feel that awkward when I write a checkbook! And my case is still a mild one: I still do use my pens daily (not for too long, though) to take quick notes. But that’s for it.
Trying to Maintain an Old School Spirit
How to do this? You just have to shut the lids of your laptops every once and a while, to try and do your writings (especially creative ones – needing perpetual corrections) on paper with your own handwriting, be it Moleskine-like notebooks, bloc notes, plain paper.
Why do this? This is the bigger question, right?
Trust me, when you will resolve to hand-write things more often, you will immediately find that you will be able to better focus on your writing task , away from all your various notifications, inboxes, social networks’ peaking and multiple browser tabs. That’s why.
Writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on at the moment—something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront.
In most ways, all this Technology does undeniably enhance our increasingly complex and fast-paced lives. It makes it harder to lose track of things and more convenient to stay in touch with the things that matter to us. But take it like this: the way it is still nice and warm to touch, smell and read a paper book or play a vinyl record, I believe there is still room in our life to practice all the handwriting we so hardly learned at school some twenty or thirty years ago.
Don’t forget to pick up your pen and write from time to time. You’ll like it.