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Handwritten vs. Digital Journaling

January 9, 2013

“The best time to nurse an idea is at the time of its birth. Every minute it lives gives it a better chance of surviving. When ideas come, you can use them or lose them; you can put them down on paper or risk letting them fly away.” from the book Aspire by Kevin Hall

One of the key elements of the successful journaling habits of histories greatest journalers was the fact that they wrote them out by hand. In our fast paced, electronic world why would we ever consider using the antiquated handwritten system of journaling in the era of the computer? If da Vinci, Einstein or Edison were alive today wouldn’t they be using a computer? Didn’t they write by hand only because the iPad had not yet been invented?

One of the reasons that a journal propels uncommon success and activates genius is because of the brain development that results from writing your thoughts out by hand. Neurologist using brain imaging studies compared the brain activity involved in writing compared to typing and there was a dramatic and profound difference. Drawing out the shapes of letters uses far more nerve inputs than simply pressing a key on a keyboard. Handwriting trains the brain!

Writing out by hand, the thoughts that are on your mind, increases the ability of your brain to comprehend, retain and organize those thoughts.

Think of this example: you’re at an event and you meet a new person. What’s your success rate for remembering their name? For most people they forget the new name in seconds and are embarrassed when the see the person again. If you have a system you use the persons name immediately so it gets implanted in your memory. If you then link their name mentally, with the face of someone you know with the same name, the memory gets planted even deeper. If you take a moment to write their name on the back of a business card and review it several times, you get noticed as having a masterful memory.

Each step of the process cements the new information into the brain at ever increasing levels. Writing something down tells the brain “this is important”.

Your thoughts and ideas are like the name of the person you met at that event. If they are new to you they can easily be forgotten. Writing them down, by hand, makes them come alive to the brain and activates the brain to take further action and develop them or expand them.

Think of writing your journal by hand as exercise for the brain. Do geniuses journal or does journaling develop genius? The answer is not clear but what is clear is that trapping by hand, your thoughts, ideas, observations, etc. activates the brain in many ways. Why would you ever want to miss out on that?


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  1. Do geniuses journal or does journaling develop genius? mmmmm I like it!

  2. ToddB permalink

    This would be an interesting topic to debate

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