Handwriting Makes You Smarter

MS Handwriting Extinct 1

In the September 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living, there was an article title “Is Handwriting Becoming Extinct?” written by Joanne Chen. The article dives more deeply into the psychological, brain development and creative benefits of writing than I would normally expect from a newsstand magazine usually focused on home decor and recipes. It discusses several scientific studies that researched the advantages of writing on cognitive development, memory and comprehension.

What we here all know, that writing helps us think, organize and remember (“I’m writing it down to remember it now”), is clearly a scientifically proven fact, one that we should help to nurture in ourselves and in others. Digital doesn’t solve everything and might be making up even more forgetful.

I would love to share a link to the article but I could not find it on the Martha Stewart web site. Maybe when the October issue is published, they will post the article on their site. In the meantime, the September issue is on newsstands (the article is on page 158) as well as being available from the iTunes newsstand for $3.99. The issue is the How-To edition with lots of organizational tips which might appeal to you as well.

MS Handwriting Extinct 1

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10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It is an odd article for that magazine, but the good thing is that it will probably be widely read, given her fan base. I agree that handwriting is important, it stimulates the brain in different – and more beneficial – ways than digital media and I hope school systems will realize that someday soon.

  2. I can’t tell you how dismayed I was to find that some schools are not teaching handwriting! Having been the way of non-verbal communication since civilization began, I can’t imagine a time without the beauty of the handwritten document. Not that I’m against computers or digitized devices, but the handwritten document should remain a part of a civilized world. Just my 2 cents worth.

  3. I think you may have missed her ongoing article and focus on health and longevity.

    After her mother who lived forEVER it seems, she opened a wellness and longevity centre at a hospital in NY (I believe) and has a new book out about the aforementioned topics.

    MSLO has always been WAY MORE than recipes and housekeeping – they owned the now defunct Whole Living Magazine (nothing but health and natural wellness) which as magazines have gone under, the philosophy was wrapped into the Living mag (this is my theory, not anything anyone said.)

    I have been a fan of Martha since I was young (her mag started when I was 12) and I get irritated (sorry, no idea /why/ I just generally rankle at misinformation and stereotyping, much like many of us also do at the “letters are dead” puff pieces of recent years) when it’s “discovered” every few years that MSL is not just faffy girly crap or whatever. In 20+ years the magazine (and her associated empire) cannot entirely focus on just fancy meals.

    Anyway, I’m not pushing anything on anyone (in fact I honestly haven’t paid too much attention in the past few years) but I just wanted to clarify that maybe there’s more food for thought here. This blog post sounded (to me) pretty knee-jerky reactionary as the crummy “reporting” that happens on the post and letters in the US and just wanted to fill in some clearly missing pieces.
    Thank you for pointing this article out, I’ll have to find my copy.

    1. My comments were more that I was pleasantly surprised that the article was so thorough and scientifically focused. Since I have a subscription to the magazine and have on and off since the magazine’s inception, I was not throwing stones. Just surprised to find the topic of handwriting mentioned in such detail.

      I am not familiar with the article’s author so I will investigate further to find the more detailed health and longevity series.

      Thanks for the insightful comments!

  4. I can’t imagine a day going by where I don’t write in my journal or handwriting a note to a work colleague. I love my digital devices and use a computer all day for work but writing something by hand in a brightly coloured pen pleases me. My 11-year old nephew has just started writing in his own journal and was really excited to hear his auntie has one too … hopefully he’ll be one of his generation who lets go of the electronics and returns to writing things by hand 🙂

  5. I continued to come across your page and thought I should leave my first comment!

    I haven’t yet read this article, but I will be looking for it now. There has been similar research done, and it surprises me how quickly we are willing to discard a skill that is and has been an indicator of education and intelligence. The ability to write legibly by hand, to me, speaks so much about a person. This particular piece was more about the brain development linked to handwriting, but I hate to see everything going to technology just for the sake of it being newer and faster. As others commented, I love my laptop and phone, but I will always write by hand!

  6. I think it is absolutely true that handwriting uses the brain differently and more emotionally than using electronics. Also, it’s just more personally satisfying to touch and hold a hand-written letter or note. I like knowing the writer took the effort and time required to send a “real” letter instead of jotting off an email. Of course, there’s the wonderful “chore” of choosing just the right paper, pen and ink too. I appreciate the thoughtfulness – or mindfulness – needed to create a missive that’s just for me rather than the massive pokes and notes on Facebook or in an email.

    A letter is much more sensual. I can touch it, smell it and hold on to it in ways that just don’t compare to letters in my PC mailbox. Whoever wanted to tie a pretty ribbon around emails and store them in a keepsake box?

    I have letters written by my grandmother and mother that are priceless to me now that they are gone. Could emails ever have the sentimental value of those old letters? feel closer to these women when I see how much my mother’s and grandmother’s writing were alike and I can only try to produce the lovely Spencerian script they both used. If handwriting ever goes away (I don’t think it will among civilized people) a significant part of the culture will be gone. Wouldn’t that be sad?

  7. I read this article in an old issue of MSL while getting a pedicure yesterday. Did you ever find it online? I’d love to read it again, and to share it with my friends. THank you!

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