As a child I remember returning to school in September only to find I had virtually forgotten how to write with my pen (was that just me?). Fast forward to now and I fear I am again losing the ability to use my fingers for anything other than typing and messaging on an array of electronic devices.
Turns out I’m not the only one. A 2013 British survey (commissioned by Docmail) encompassing 2,000 people showed that one in three had not hand-written anything in six months!
Luckily for me, I work for a business that sells beautiful notebooks; Oh So Cherished is helping me fall back in love with writing things down on paper.
There’s something wonderfully freeing about writing in a notebook. It’s far more enjoyable than typing (and definitely helps if your notebook is aesthetically appealing too). I find writing things down a much better aid to creativity than typing out a perfectly formed yet deeply uninspiring lump of text in Word. Holding a pen creates a sense of unlimited imaginative potential.
Sarah, Oh So Cherished’s Founder, carries her notebook at all times to make sure no ideas are lost:
“I‘ve been using a notebook all my life; I feel like I can explore new ideas better on paper. I use my notebook for all sorts of things: scribbling new product inspirations, business ideas, shopping lists, goals and most importantly my daily to do list. I love being able to cross off jobs when complete (there’s nothing more satisfying!).
I hate the thought of having a cool idea on the go and not being able to jot it down! These days, I rarely leave the house without my notebook. It’s become such an essential part of my daily routine”.
It seems we’re not alone in loving a bit of pen and paper.
This quote from Lee Rourke’s Guardian 2011 article sums things up nicely:
“Pen and paper is always to hand,” agrees Jon McGregor. “An idea or phrase can be grabbed and worked at while it’s fresh. Writing on the page stays on the page, with its scribbles and rewrites and long arrows suggesting a sentence or paragraph be moved, and can be looked over and reconsidered. Writing on the screen is far more ephemeral – a sentence deleted can’t be reconsidered. Also, you know, the internet.”
It’s certainly true that working away from a screen with an internet connection assists the easily-distracted amongst us. The temptation to disappear down an internet rabbit-hole is an ongoing battle for anyone involved in web-based research. There’s always another interesting article, app or social media post just waiting to be discovered. Sometimes you just need to stop staring at the screen and let your own thoughts take over.
And it’s not just paid work where writing can help. A recent Wall Street Journal article compared how well students learnt via note-taking by hand versus note-taking by electronic means. The study showed that students who took notes by hand had improved information retention and were better-able to understand the ideas and concepts discussed. Writing takes longer than typing, which forces us to think about how to summarise what it is that we’re writing down.
It may seem outdated to younger generations, but it seems that using a pen and paper will give them an advantage.
So whilst I would have to be forcibly parted from my trusty smartphone, there’s much to be gained by combining modern technology with something a little more old-school.
We’d love to know what you do: are you an ardent paper fan or have you succumbed to the allure of a clicking keyboard? Leave us a comment or – if you’re feeling nostalgic – write us a letter 🙂