When it comes to keeping a journal, there are two main options: writing by hand or typing on a computer. While both methods have their advantages, there are some key differences between the two that can help you decide which one is best for you. Writing by hand can be therapeutic and help with mindfulness, while typing on a computer is faster and more convenient. It all comes down to personal preference and what you want to get out of your journaling experience. Writing by hand is associated with distinct and independent brain patterns, resulting in a different end product than typing on a keyboard.
When children typed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words faster than on a keyboard, but they also expressed more ideas. Writing by hand requires a more subtle and complicated movement of the fingers than writing, but actually increases the activity in the motor cortex of the brain, effect similar to meditation. This explains why keeping a diary can be therapeutic and why it helps with mindfulness. Convenience is the main advantage of typing on a computer. In my own experience, I was much more likely to stick with the habit and get more words out when I tried to keep a journal through Google Docs.
I could also write faster, so my writing was more mainstream of conscience. Instead of stopping to think about how I was feeling or thinking, I wrote down my emotions, which were actually useful to me because I could visualize my thoughts on the screen almost immediately. When I was having a particularly stressful day or just feeling sick, I actually felt more relieved after writing in the diary by hand than when I wrote. I understood my emotions better when I typed, but I felt more cathartic and even happier when I wrote by hand. That may be because I associate writing with work so much and writing by hand doesn't look much like work. So, which method is the best? It may depend on why you keep a diary in the first place.
If you only keep a journal to track information, writing is probably the best option. It's faster, easier and presumably you're on the computer anyway, so you're more likely to stick with the habit. Writing by hand activates more parts of the brain than writing, says the website “Little Things”. It requires writers to use more motor skills and a collection of links around the brain called the “reading circuit”.Many people write faster than they write by hand.
But the slower pace moves a different part of the brain. You may find advantages in reducing time, such as greater quality control or better mental capacity. Due to the nature of diary entries, most writers want to keep them away from all eyes except their own. Writing by hand stimulates certain parts of the brain, yes, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to be creative or have ideas when you write. Even if you write in a digital journal, don't feel pressured to include a fun type of additional media with each entry. I usually write drafts on a computer because I write faster than I write and because I can name the document, file it on my computer, and find it later.
This is a big help for creative types who want to push the boundaries of keeping a diary, but don't let it overwhelm them. When I do free handwriting, I can end up writing a piece that would not have come out after I had looked at the computer screen for hours. I don't have to wait for my desktop to boot up, or remember to drag my laptop with me in case the opportunity to write arises. Writing isn't exactly difficult, but it's much easier to write, especially considering that most of us spend 10 hours a day in front of a screen anyway. However, if I like the piece and want to write, name and file it, it can be a tedious process. I feel like I can say more when I write just because I have a lot to say and when I write everything, my hand gets tired. In conclusion, both writing by hand and typing on a computer have their advantages when it comes to keeping a journal.
Writing by hand can be therapeutic and help with mindfulness while typing on a computer is faster and more convenient. It all comes down to personal preference and what you want to get out of your journaling experience.