A notebook lays open filled with cursive handwriting. Beside it lays a bowl with a pomegranate and green leaves.

16 Incredible Benefits of Writing by Hand (vs. Typing)

Maybe you once kept a secret diary where you unloaded all your feelings.

Though unfortunately those childhood diaries are often forgotten when we grow up and become too busy to write.

But lately the art of journaling is making a big comeback.

And at some point, I started to miss the diary I kept growing up. I wanted badly to spend less time scrolling my phone and more time reconnecting with my thoughts. I started journaling again and it was the best decision.

Are you also looking for some inspiration to pick up your pen again?

Handwriting has some incredible benefits that you’ll never get typing into your laptop or smartphone. And it works whether you’re journaling, taking notes at a work meeting or writing a to-do list.

Because there’s a huge difference between handwriting and typing.

Though journaling won’t be easy if you haven’t written in awhile. Your hand will cramp, your handwriting will look awful and you’ll struggle with writer’s block.

But stay dedicated and you’ll be amazed at how much a journal can change your life.

Here are some powerful benefits of writing by hand:

1. Handwriting boosts your creativity

A notebook lays open on a table filled with handwriting and surrounded by yellow leaves and green tree branches.

Writing by hand helps you think outside the box. It gives your mind free reign to express itself outside your daily routine.

Your mind often replays the same worries in an endless loop.

But writing by hand pushes your mind to new observations. It forces you to slow down and fish out some insights from your stream of thoughts.

And this is a proven fact. Studies found that children who wrote essays by hand expressed more ideas than children who wrote at a keyboard.

2. Handwriting improves your memory

A woman holds an opened notebook filled with handwriting and a circular shaped graph.

Writing something down makes you far more likely to remember it.

Students who take longhand notes during lectures have better long-term memory recall. The spatial relations between your handwriting and your hand help you retain information better in the long term.

Research has found a distinct neural pathway that’s activated when you physically write out letters. And this pathway is linked to your overall success in learning and memory.

Handwriting requires a sequence of strokes to form a letter – not just a single push of a key. And studies show that these sequential movements activate the brain regions responsible for memory.

3. Handwriting relieves depression and anxiety

A yellow ochre leather notebook lays closed with a leaf and two handwritten notes on top. There are green branches and scraps of brown paper surrounding the notebook.

Writing by hand slows down your thoughts, boosts mindfulness and increases calm.

A lot of your frustration and sadness comes from unexpressed thoughts that are repeated in your mind in circles.

But studies show that writing about a stressful experience is more therapeutic than typing about the experience. It leads to greater and more honest self-disclosure.

Writing by hand is so effective against depression and anxiety that it’s often recommended by therapists.

4. Handwriting improves your learning comprehension

A half dozen piles of notebooks fill up several shelves of a white book shelf.

Students who take notes during lectures retain information better than those who type notes into their laptops.

Writing by hand is slower so it lets you filter information and put it into your own words. And that helps with understanding.

Research shows that taking notes on a laptop results in more shallow processing than writing notes by hand. It’s also much easier to get distracted on your computer.

Studies found that students who take notes on their laptops do worse with conceptual questions than students who write notes by hand. Other studies found that students who use laptops during lectures show a decreased academic performance and have a harder time staying on task.

When you take notes, you’re summarizing and paraphrasing information to distill down more complicated concepts. This is much more effective for learning than typing out what the professor says verbatim.

5. Handwriting improves your prioritization skills

A notebook lays open surrounded by handwritten notes and yellow and green leaves.

Writing by hand is slower than typing. So you naturally pick out the main points in lectures or talks and summarize them into a few simple words.

Because the sheer effort of writing by hand makes you less likely to just transcribe whatever you hear.

Writing by hand also lets you create outlines, make arrows, cross things out or highlight. You can even use your own form of shorthand to take quick notes.

6. Handwriting enhances your focus

A spiral notebook lays in the sun filled with sloppy handwriting. There's a bowl of peaches next to the notebook and a silver pen.

Writing by hand forces you to slow down and follow your train of thought to its conclusion.

Handwriting also helps children with ADD and AD/HD – and learning cursive improves students’ concentration.

The process of writing uses a particular part of the brain that filters any irrelevant information. When you form letters on paper, you concentrate better and your brain considers what you’ve written.

7. Handwriting makes you a better writer

A closed yellow ochre notebook lays on a table surrounded by green leaves and a wooden bowl full of rocks and shells.

Brilliant writers have been writing by hand long after the invention of the typewriter.

From modern-day authors like Stephen King to 20th century legends like Hemingway, much of the world’s greatest prose was first scrawled out on paper (even when typewriters were available).

Writing on paper takes effort. And you’re not likely to waste words if only for the sake of avoiding a hand cramp. Writing by hand forces you to slow down and consider each phrase carefully.

Researchers found that writing by hand improves legibility, fluency and the quality of a student’s writing.

Another study at Washington University found that handwritten essays were richer and more complex than those typed on a computer.

8. Handwriting reminds you of the value of privacy

A thick spiral notebook lays open on a sunny grey table filled with messy handwriting.

In a world where millions share their lives on social media, it’s refreshing to take back some space just for yourself.

Because writing has value even when you’re writing for your eyes only.

Your thoughts don’t have to be seen to be validated. It’s enough that your journal is a safe space for your own catharsis and release.

9. Handwriting helps your critical thinking

A notebook with neat cursive writing lays open on a table next to green leaves and a small wooden bowl filled with a rock and a sea shell.

Handwriting lets your mind think more deeply over what you’re writing down.

It expands your thoughts and helps you form connections between ideas.

Writing by hand shows you the relationships between abstract concepts. And it helps you solve complex problems by letting you slow down to process your thoughts.

10. Writing by hand slows down your mental aging

A spiral notebook lays open filled with messy handwriting with a glass of iced tea alongside.

Your brain gets weaker when it’s not fully used. And writing by hand keeps your mind sharp and lets you stay curious.

Studies show that reading books, writing letters and keeping mentally active protects the brain in old age. When you mentally challenge yourself, you slow down cognitive decline.

Some physicians recommend handwriting as a cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their mind alert.

11. Writing by hand eliminates distractions

A yellow ochre yellow notebook lays closed on a table with a white mug of coffee on top. It's surrounded by green leaves, a thread and scraps of paper.

Computers are a playground for distractions with their multiple tabs and notifications.

A paper notebook is a distraction-free zone where you can forget all about your emails for awhile.

Writing on paper takes you away from the online world and from other people’s opinions to focus solely on yourself.

12. Writing by hand combats dyslexia

A spiral notebook lays open with a silver pen on top next to a cup of iced tea.

Dyslexia is caused by a disconnection between the auditory and language centers of the brain. And writing by hand helps bring those centers together.

Students with dyslexia struggle with reading because their brains associate sound and letter combinations inefficiently, says language specialist Marilyn Zecher.

Learning cursive helps with this decoding process because it boosts hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and other brain and memory functions.

Although cursive writing is increasingly rare in public schools, it’s still often a powerful therapy for dyslexia.

13. Writing by hand develops your brain

A notebook filled with cursive writing lays open with a cup of coffee on top, surrounded by leaves, a dark green ribbon, a bowl with rocks and paper scraps.

Cursive writing trains your brain to use different parts of the mind for different functions.

Children who learn cursive use fine motor skills and visual and tactile processing abilities that help their cognitive function.

Teachers often know the full benefits of learning cursive. And when handwriting is cut from a school curriculum, it often stirs controversy.

Handwriting helps children to pay attention to written language. Studies show that students who have good fine-motor writing skills in preschool do better in later education.

Writing by hand makes you a better reader and improves letter recognition.

14. Writing by hand improves your hand-eye coordination

Several handwritten notes lay on a table next to green leaves and scraps of paper.

Your hand movements in handwriting are constantly different as you join different letters together.

And that’s more mentally demanding than hitting a single stroke for each letter on a keyboard.

When you write by hand, you’re challenged to think about what you’re doing. It’s nearly impossible to form a word on paper when your mind drifts away.

15. Writing by hand improves your self expression

A thick spiral notebook with messy handwriting lays open with a silver pen next to a white bowl of ripe peaches.

Writing by hand makes you more eloquent. It teaches you how to draw out your thoughts and consider them carefully.

Writing by hand is slower and gives you time to consider your phrases. It gives you some leeway to express yourself badly and improve over time.

Whether you work in a creative or analytic field, studies show that writing by hand helps you communicate complex ideas.

When you write by hand, you gain confidence in your ability to express yourself. It’s easier to speak on any subject when you’re well-versed in methodical writing.

16. Handwriting makes your letters and notes special

A leather yellow ochre notebook lays on a table surrounded by green leaves and a cup of coffee.

Nobody has ever treasured a text message or an email inside a box of keepsakes.

But handwriting is unique to everyone and handwritten notes and letters are so much more personal.

It’s why people still write out Christmas cards, birthday greetings and wedding invitations by hand. Such messages are prized because they’re more intimate and unique to each person.

Journaling Tips for Beginners

A woman's hand holding a pen and writing in a journal with a cup of coffee in the background.

If you’re ready to start a daily journal, it can be daunting to fill up that first blank page. It’s difficult to get writing again after you’ve spent years on a smartphone.

Read my ultimate Journaling Tips for Beginners for insider hacks that will get you writing every single day. From forming habits to starting small, these are all the tricks that have worked for me over the years.

How to start a digital detox

A woman with silver jewelry in a black sweater holds a sleek silver smartphone with both hands.

Going back to handwriting and limiting your screentime will honestly change your life. If you feel powerless to control your phone addiction and endless scrolling, read my ultimate guide about the most Powerful Ways To Start A Digital Detox (And Reduce Stress) to get inspired towards a slower and simpler life.

More resources:

51 Inspiring Quotes About Journaling (To Get You Writing!)

Nature Journaling: An Essential Guide (+8 Tips To Start)

Journaling for Mental Health (And 30 Powerful Prompts)

100 Incredible Journaling Ideas (For Anxiety, Clarity And More)

14 Life-Changing Journaling Techniques (And How To Start)