November 20


4 Ways That Handwriting in Your Journal Impacts Your Brain

By Adela Rubio

November 20, 2012

Is there anything better than grabbing your ‘special notebook' and favorite pen and hunkering down in your preferred writing spot to spend some time relaxing into the intimate relationship you have with your journal, your sacred receptacle of insight and intuition?

It's not quite the same as when you're writing a blog post on your laptop, is it? The tic tic tic of the keyboard is quite different than the soothing sound of pen moving against paper, letters shaping words, forming sentences, expressing thoughts, feelings, dreams, and visions. How horrible is the feeling of having no paper left in a favorite journal, this is why I think I'm always trying to buy papers online, just to make sure I never run out. Do you notice any differences in the quality of your writing?

Day in and day out your fingers are quickly tapping on that keyboard. Yes, it's faster and you can probably type more words than you could if you wrote it out. But,  if your goal is to expand your awareness and experience you might want to go ‘old school' and pull out a pad and pen and do some long handwriting in your journal.

There is some very interesting information on handwriting and the brain which may explain the different quality of your writing when you handwrite, instead of type.

Here are some very cool benefits of writing longhand:

1. Handwriting evolves the brain. As mankind evolved over the centuries the ongoing manipulation of the fingers in the process of making tools stimulated the brain, eventually causing the left brain's language capacities to emerge. Comparing the highly disproportionate space in the brain devoted to the use of the hand and fingers as compared to the rest of the body's moving parts highlights the hand's crucial influence in actually developing the mind. Handwriting, as one of the most complex of all human behaviors, helps turn the brain into the mind.

2.  Journaling + Music reduces stress and anxiety. The power of therapeutic music with a beat of 60-80 beats per minute (i.e. Mozart), similar to the human heartbeat, to calm the brain is well established — it affects heart rate, blood pressure, and the nervous system.  It pulls the brain's rhythm into the music's rhythm which begins to stabilize how the brain is firing. This “calms the dance of the emotional brain,' the source of stress and anxiety.

3. Journaling integrates the right and left brain. There are several basic brain processes involved in handwriting. Binocular teaming, or the proper focusing of the eyes, requires integration between the two hemispheres of the brain. Writing neatly on the paper is a fine motor activity which requires good hand-eye coordination and good motor skills. Since the left hemisphere of the brain controls movements on the right side of the body, and the right hemisphere of the brain controls movements on the left side of the body, a person can refine the integration between the two sides of the brain through activities involving both sides of his body. Handwriting is a perfect way to integrate them both.

4. Handwriting is actually ‘brain writing’. Handwriting actually comes from your brain, whether it's the size of your letters or your slant. When you produce any graphic movement, such as handwriting, you are actually “brainwriting” and leaving your “brain prints” behind on the paper. These brain prints reveal who you are and how you think, feel, and behave. They are an x-ray of your mind. And, like fingerprints, they are unique. No two people ever have the exact same brain prints. There's a whole science dedicated to this called graphology.

In most lives insight has been accidental. We wait for it as primitive man awaited lightning for a fire. But making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence; to forge links; to go beyond the given, to see patterns, relationship; context.

~ Marilyn Ferguson

Writing longhand can be your personal respite from the automation of everything. It's wonderful to have the power of technology, but there are some things that are still meant to be experienced… like your fingers and hands being an extension of your heart, mind, and soul.

Writing longhand can be a meditation, a quiet moment where it's just you and your pen as it moves across the page. It's an opportunity to feel the uninterrupted connection with you, your thoughts and your language.

Writing longhand is an invitation to experience the splendor of your inner world come to life, and it's a great tool for evolution too!

Image: Untitled, Elizabeth M

Adela Rubio

About the author

Adela Rubio hosts trainings and events on activating your creative essence with collaboration and community. She's hosted 40+ Online Events (30-Day Events, Virtual Summits, and digital marketing trainings) and facilitated 100's of Writing Circles.

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  1. Glad you enjoyed it, Teri. I enjoy understanding the science behind what I already know works. I call it left brain candy! Writing does feel good, especially when you don’t have ANY expectations… you just write!

  2. I enjoyed your article. Thanks for posting. It is so much easier for me to be creative when I write long hand. I thought it was just because I grew up writing it out. It is also more relaxing for me to journal when I have an issue. Putting it on paper just seems to help me release whatever is going on.

  3. I journal every morning and do so with pen in hand. For me, it is a form of meditation. If I could enter the comment here by handwriting it, I would. Alas, the keyboard is the only way to share my thoughts online.
    I love what you wrote about “fingers and hands being an extension of your heart, mind and soul” – often, when I write, I don’t think about what to say first – it just comes through my fingertips.
    Thanks. ~Adela
    P.S. I shared this post on my Fan Page as well.

    1. Ah …. your comment just reminded me of the stillness that arises as that pen moves across the page. There’s somewhere for my thoughts to ’empty into.’ Thanks, Debra! I appreciate your insights, they spark my own. Thanks for sharing on your fan page, too. You rock!

  4. Even though I’ve learned to write with ease on a computer, there’s nothing quite like waking up with a mind full of ideas and writing freehand. I also find that when my book-writing clients get a little stuck, writing freehand can help free them up. It’s great to read some of the scientific reasons behind it, Adela.

    1. Great tip, Lisa. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck lately with a book I’m writing. I am back to journaling regularly but hadn’t thought to use long hand writing for my book. Thanks. 🙂

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