Thursday, June 21, 2012

Do I Really Have to Write it Out?

After my last post, "Why You Want to Write Down Your Goals," one savvy commenter asked:

"Does this mean I have to actually 'write it down' or does typing it into a to-do list do the same thing?"

Great question. Especially since we live in the age of the laptop, the smart phone and the app.

I told her I suspected writing it was more effective than typing it if for no other reason than it would take longer, requiring more effort and making a stronger impression on the RAS in the brain. I also said that I'd research it and get her an "official" answer. 

Because I'm nothing if not helpful. At least where research is concerned - where laundry is concerned, notsomuch. (I had to admit that just in case my husband or kids are reading this. Perhaps the problem is I rarely put "fold and put away clothes" on my to-do list.)  

So here is the official answer: Write it down.  With pen, pencil, marker or crayon. Eye-liner would do in a pinch.  But use your fingers to grip the instrument and form the letters. 

Those of you who glaze over at scientific explanation, university studies or in-depth reasoning can tune out ... just remember that you really should get a pad of paper or journal and write out your goals to maximize your ability to achieve them. 

The rest of you - and you nerds know who you are - can check out these articles if you want further info on this. (PS. I'm not insulting you, I'd probably click through and read myself. Especially if it delayed laundry folding.)

  • While typing is a more efficient, discarding handwriting might not be such a great idea. Picking up a pencil and a pad of paper to write out your ideas or goals could aid your thought process and learning ability according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • For kids, even those raised in the computer age, the pen is mightier than the keyboard according to this research from the University of Washington.

And here's a great example of this priniple in action by my uber smart and productive friend Marybeth Whalen, who made a to-list for the entire summer.

BOTTON LINE: You really want to learn something, remember something, or accomplish something?  Try manually writing it down.


  1. I have a composition notebook where I start my writing for my WIP. Then I go to the computer and enter it. At times, things get rearranged and all but this composition notebook is the only place where I can bypass the urge to edit.

  2. Thank you very much for researching this for me. I have recently completed some trauma counseling and all the work I did for that had to be hand written. There seems to be a better connection between the brain and our handwritten words.

    Once again thank you.

    1. Facinating that your trauma counseling stuff had to be hand-written. I pray you've overcome your trauma - and may God use it to His glory.


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