Can you write??

That was a common question not that long ago. It might become a more common one again in the near future.

Literacy was measured in various ways in the past. Writing and reading are valuable skills for learning and communicating but not everyone could do it. Sometimes it was suppressed as a way to keep people under control. Those that don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t. – Mark Twain.

Funny, he wrote the the first book I read simply for pleasure. He changed my life by writing Tom Sawyer and he didn’t know I would be reading it almost a hundred years later. I read his autobiography and he said he wrote all this out long hand on the equivalent of legal pad today. Hand writing. Something that is seen moving from the present to the past. Some schools are no longer teaching cursive. They see it as a waste of precious time that could be spent doing other things. I guess like ‘teaching the test’. Sorry, that was mean 🙂

My thoughts on this started when I read that Jan 23rd is National Handwriting Day. Who knew?? I suspect we have a national day for just about everything but this one is a bit closer to my heart than some. I love writing by hand. Journaling has been a big teacher for me. It is a bit like teaching myself but I’ll explain. There are some other benefits of writing by hand.

The act of putting pen to paper engages parts of the brain that typing does not. That fine motor control required and the processing is different than just pounding a keyboard. That takes me down a rabbit trail with this thought.

I remember doing some reading exercises where the article I was reading was flashed at me 1 word at a time and I had control of the speed of the presentation of those words. The experience was really cool but the tech made it a bit impractical. The theory was by reading one word at a time you could read faster. A lot faster. I’m a pretty fast reader. On the order of 300 words per minute or more. The tools I was playing with allows you to speed up the words and they said the average reader could get up to 1000 words per minute with practice. Over 3 times faster. I was able to get to about 800 words per minute is just about an hour of trying it. It was cool. The words began to flow over you and it was easy to stay focused.

Their theory was that the part of the brain being used was the same as the part that processes speech rather than the part that normally reads. I guess that makes sense but all I know is it was fun and if the tech has caught up I might try it again. Now back to writing…

I’ll come back to this a bit later but the lesson I wanted to tell you was that writing by hand in a journal has focused me better on the task at hand, allowed me to go back in time and see what was bothering me a few days, weeks or even years ago and to make adjustment in life based on what I read that my past self wrote. It is a big help.

Give it a try for a while. I think you will agree that it helps. It’s simple to start. Get a notepad, a pen and write down 3 things. What you did. What you thought. How you felt. Simple statements that answers those questions. Try it for a week and see.

Thanks for listening,
Jerry Robertson

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