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Denken mit der Hand

*Writing by hand is thinking on paper. Thoughts grow into words, sentences and pictures.

Memories become stories. Ideas are transformed into projects. Notes inspire insight.

We write and understand, learn, see and think – with the hand.

8 reasons why writing with the hand makes you smarter.

And probably even happier.

1. The hand
To grip is to grasp

“The hand is the window to the mind,” said German philosopher Immanuel Kant¹ almost three hundred years ago. With the eye we see the world, but it is the hand with which we “grasp” it. Our sense of touch is so sophisticated that we even describe things that we have grasped with our hands in the dark in much greater detail than when we only see them. Every contact, each touch sparks a firework of connections in the brain – and accelerates our thinking.

Write with pen and paper – and set off your inner fireworks.

2. Think
Writing trains the mind

It takes time for us to learn how to read. And it takes years until our handwriting joins the individual letters in a smoothly flowing movement which, in turn, inspires our thoughts to flow freely.

It is precisely this complex interplay of fine motor skills, abstraction and imagination that makes writing with the hand a veritable symphony of the synapses. Writing by hand strengthens the connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. From the point of view of the human brain, very few things are as integral and sophisticated as writing with pen and paper.

Write down your thoughts. And stimulate all areas of your brain.

3. Understand
Write to learn

Typing is not writing. No keyboard is able to replace the valuable thinking and processing mechanisms that occur when we put pen to paper. Students have deeper learning experiences when they take handwritten notes. Preschoolers develop language skills more easily with the frequent use of pen and paper.

And even words in a foreign language are committed to memory better, the moment we write them down – regardless of which language it is and how old we are. Knowledge is a resource that multiplies when used. As soon as we write something down by hand, we increase our knowledge.

Study with pen and paper – and increase your personal learning curve.

4. Act
Writing is thinking on paper

The mind can only think a limited number of steps in advance. That’s why our head sometimes buzzes, and most people can’t plan more than five consecutive chess moves. But as soon as we pick up a pen and put it to paper, we allow our thoughts to run free. We escape the inner confusion, simply by putting our thoughts in order. This empowers us to step back. And the resulting distance helps us to objectively view plans and projects. By writing our thoughts down, we bring them to life. By putting our plans on paper, we increase the chances of actually putting them into practice.

Write down what’s going through your mind. The reward is clarity and insight.

5. Classify
Lists are liberating

No draft is set in stone. Schedules are hardly ever kept. There are never enough hours in a day. Most of our worries revolve around constantly changing tasks and projects – and pen and paper can achieve clarity and calm here, as well. Each handwritten list frees the mind, facilitates analysis and sharpens focus. Lists help us to separate the important from the urgent.

Classify and prioritise. And we sometimes forge relationships on paper that we previously weren’t aware of. Even this process is certainly

• quicker

• more intuitive

• and efficient

with the use of pen and paper.

Not to mention the satisfaction that comes from crossing a completed task off your list!

Plan your projects with lists – and you’ll hold control over them in your hand.

6. Discover
Writers are wanderers

Many authors still write their novels by hand because they want to discover where the journey will take them. Putting words down on paper is like embarking on a journey: we know where it starts – but not where it will end. Unlike texts on a monitor, sentences written on paper have a lasting quality.

The pen reinforces this effect, gently driving the hand over the page, from one word to the next. Instead of simply deleting a sentence with the back key or tearing the sheet of paper out of the typewriter, we move forward in the direction of our thoughts, which  (loosely based on Kleist) we compose while writing.

If you have a complex problem but no solution in sight, just pick up your pen and paper and start. Writing is striding forth in spirit; one sentence follows another, one idea after the next. Suddenly, characters and ideas emerge, formed by the previous thought – apparently conceived out of the blue, but ultimately created by hand.

Write down your thoughts by hand – and explore the world.

7. Let go
Writing down frees up the mind

Writing is release. It allows us to understand, process, think, unwind and free ourselves from many things that dampen the spirit. Once we write something down, we feel relieved.

Writing by hand stimulates areas in the brain that are also active when we meditate. We calm down, think more clearly, review our thoughts – ultimately letting some of them go.

Scientists also confirm these findings. Writing by hand not only helps to understand, it also helps to process ideas, let go of them or cast them aside. It doesnʼt have to be a diary project. Even the smallest 'To do' list lifts the weight and creates great lightness.

Write down what you want to give up – and discover inner peace.

8. Remember
Writing by hand is the way to stay

Writing with the hand is a physical act. Every single letter, word, underscored passage, circle or mark that you put on paper leaves traces that remain in our physical memory. Most people can remember an exciting part in a book even months after reading it. Handwriting has a similar, yet stronger effect.

In the transcript of a lecture that is teeming with references, we recall the ideas we had when we were sitting in the lecture hall. The recollection of the situation in which we wrote each handwritten text can still rise before our inner eye, even years later. The briefest handwritten note takes us on a journey through time. This is the reason why so many people keep their notebooks. And why famous people’s manuscripts are so popular. After all, handwriting says so much about a person’s character.

Write with pen and paper – and track your personal history.

Denken mit der Hand*

*Writing by hand is thinking on paper. Thoughts grow into words, sentences and pictures.
Memories become stories. Ideas are transformed into projects.
Notes inspire insight.

We write and understand, learn, see and think – with the hand.

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