Why writing matters.

And by writing, I mean writing. Not typing. One of four reasons:

One of the most effective ways to study and retain new information is to rewrite your notes by hand. That’s because putting ink to paper stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System, or the RAS. According to Lifehacker, “The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on that moment — something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront.” One study from 2010 found that the brain areas associated with learning “lit up” much more when kids were asked to write words like “spaceship” by hand versus just studying the word closely.

This fits my own experience. And let’s not forget that typing is so quick and easy in comparison that it encourages us to be far less concise. I often find myself replicating entire paragraphs, which never happens if I’m scrawling with a pen. So we’re much more likely to both retain and condense information if we actually write our notes. The only problem is that, if you’re like me, your handwriting isn’t good enough to be trusted as legible in the long term. Hence why I type my notes up too, after writing them.

(Hat tip: Matthias Rascher)

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