How Pen & Paper Can Make Your Writing More Creative

As we’ve mentioned before, writing is a really edifying hobby women to take up. But have you considered that how you write might affect both the content and quality of your writing?

As the respected poet Charles Simic noted recently, writing with pen and paper is becoming less and less commonplace and, I would argue, it shows. Today, most people can barely put together a creative sentence, let alone entertain the prospect of writing creatively full-time. Of course, there are plenty of other factors that account for this, but first and foremost it’s down the paradigm shift in expression that computers and social media have brought about.

There’s no denying, however, that typing comes with its own advantages, particularly in this digitally interconnected world of ours. If you’re trying to take down notes or type something that requires little to no imagination, typing on a computer is liable to be your best bet.

How to Make the Most of Pen & Paper

As absurd as it sounds, the more ritualistic your writing process is, the more likely you are to see a benefit. You might even go so far as to invest in special writing instruments like some of these options, to add an extra layer of frisson to your creative writing. The key point is this: the experience of putting pen to paper itself matters a great deal.

Of course, you needn’t take my word for it. There’s plenty of evidence out there that confirms that there’s a considerable difference between writing with a pen and paper and typing. Crucially, writing has been proven to have an impact on cognition and brain development, particularly learning and information retention.

In a 2010 study, University of Wisconsin psychologist Virginia Berninger found that schoolchildren are more creative when they write using pen and paper, rather than a computer. Put simply, handwriting activates multiple regions of the brain associated with processing and remembering information. In another study on the effect of writing and typing on information retention, students in a test group listened to TED lectures and took notes, using either a keyboard or pen and paper.

Those that had used the keyboard had attempted to write down verbatim what was said in the lectures, whilst the pen and paper group had to use shorthand and neologisms to retain the information, ensuring that it retained more successfully precisely because it required cognitive effort on the part of the students.

So if you want to find creative inspiration for your writing, why not trying switching over to pen and paper? It may sound old fashioned, but it worked for Shakespeare… And if you really want to take it to the next level, why not create a structure around your writing, with set times and a particular pen and paper that you use every time. It won’t be long before you begin to see the results.

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