Even in technology-driven 2014, there are still a lot of benefits to doing things manually. In particular, using a pen and writing in a notebook can often prove to be a better way to get down ideas or information than using a keyboard on a computer or tablet. For all the software out there to make writing simpler and more efficient, sometimes you can’t beat the tools that have been used since cavemen were carving on walls. For first drafts, using handwriting is often superior to even the most advanced word processor. Here are six situations where using a pen is superior to using a keyboard.
Your flurry of ideas shouldn’t be held back by the constraints of a word processor. Writing free-form is much more flexible than typing in something like Microsoft Word; it allows you to put all of your thoughts onto the page in whatever form those ideas come to you. If you’re having a burst of inspiration your big ideas probably won’t come in a linear order, so why should you write them in one?
2. Making Quick Mind Maps
Mind maps are an awesome way to organize information visually. They let you make connections that you wouldn’t have made otherwise and allow you to branch out a simple concept into a series of sub-categories and sub-sub-categories. Mind maps can be made on a computer, but are much more effective when they’re made by hand because adding a new concept is as easy as drawing an oval.
Apps like Paper are great at replicating the drawing experience on a tablet, but they’re still not as effective as simply sketching with pen and paper. If you have an idea you can easily scribble it into your notebook to explain it to someone, and you’re also able to tear out the page and hand it to them right then and there. Additionally, even with popular apps like Notability available, there’s no way to draw and take notes on the same document that’s as legible and intuitive as plain, old pen and paper.
Do you know how to make a quick annotation in a word processor? Probably not. Meanwhile, it’s extremely easy in a notebook; just put an asterisk (*) after the thing that needs annotating and include the annotation at the bottom of that page. If you’re writing the draft that you’re going to be turning in to your editor or professor you’ll probably want to make it professional, but if you’re just jotting down a first or even second draft, then using a pen and notebook is a better option.
5. Tracking Your Changes
Having Track Changes on while you’re writing something in Microsoft Word is distracting. Every time you delete a word, or even just a letter, the page gets more cluttered, but it’s the only way you can keep a record of what you’re changing as you’re writing. Know what you can do using a pen that’s not nearly as distracting? Cross out words or letters as you write in a notebook.
6. Learning as You Write
A lot of people take furious notes in the classroom but don’t actually study those notes. If that’s the case, the only chance they have at not failing their tests is if they wrote those notes by hand. When typing you’re just transcribing what your teachers or professors are saying, not pausing long enough to really consider the meaning of the words. When you’re using a pen, the words you’re hearing and writing have just enough time to gestate in your head so that you’re actually learning during the lecture. When Scientific American covered the subject, the magazine cited how handwriting requires different kinds of cognitive processing than typing on a computer. Even science agrees that, at times, the best technology for writing is a pen rather than a keyboard.
Featured photo credit: Chris Chapman via flickr.com