Why do we write? Why do we even want to write? In the age of voice activated texts and rampant abbreviations and acronyms for everything, why would you ever want to sit down and take the time to physically write with a pen in a notebook?
Regardless of the fact that I think that shows a real degradation of the fundamentals of our society, this technology does nothing for the person who sits down to write who is looking for a constructive purpose for their writing. You might as well just go and have a conversation with a real person if all you are going to do is talk at your chosen piece of technology. The crucial function of a pen and paper is twofold: the writer can exercise and invigorate their mind, and can experience all the therapeutic benefits for their soul.
In the age of autocorrect and spellcheck, it is easy to become relaxed and even lazy in our grammar and spelling discipline. We can just rely on the computer to give us that little red line underneath our mistake, and the proper spelling of the word is just a right click away. Often times, we don’t even take a look at the words in the list, but pick the top one, assuming that our computer is smart enough to know what we are talking about. It is the same with smartphones and that pesky auto correct. Yes, I want to contact my brother-in-law named Orrie, and no, for the sixteenth time, it is NOT spelled Oreo (we’ve all been there…).
If you are in the middle of writing something, whether it be the next chapter in your book, or your daily journal entry, I challenge those of you who use technology to write even just a paragraph or two on paper (it shouldn’t take long transfer it back into Word, unless you really get going!). Without being able to rely on your computer to check you, you as the writer now have to do the work of both writing and editing. Daunting, I know! Taking the time to really push yourself will allow you to sharpen your mind, wit, reason, vocabulary, grammar, and spelling skills. That is a long list of benefits. Every writer wants to be proficient in these things, and each time we rely on the computer to be our editor, we lose a little bit of our own learned skill.
Yes, it is easier to just run a spellcheck at the end of a document, and I am just as guilty as the next person, but I can see, and hopefully you can too, that it is a slippery slope when we allow technology to do the thinking for us. In my opinion, this kind of exercise is better than a treadmill (gasp!), because keeping our mind sharp has so many more benefits: creativity, understanding, literacy, ideas, problem solving, and more!
As for the soul, everyone knows and had experienced that talking to someone about whatever it is that’s on your heart is such a relief and way more fulfilling than keeping it all in. The beauty of a pen and paper is that you can be as angry, sarcastic, aggressive, cheeky, or stressed out as you want as you write, and your paper won’t tell anyone what you said. Your writing is for you and you alone, and yet getting it out of your head and on to paper has the same feeling as telling someone the same things. There is a reason that psychologists tell people to keep a diary. The person next to you on the train doesn’t have to know that you hate that he is taking up your leg room, but you can still get rid of that aggression on paper! And then, when he gets up to leave, you can smile sweetly at him and tell him to have a nice day because you are no longer a time bomb of anger waiting to explode the next time he looks your way. That is an extreme example, but it might work for you someday.
I find that my journal is the best place to write out my hopes and dreams without fear of judgment or criticism. I know what I want and now, so does my journal. A journal can be a great place to explore more about yourself, since it is just you, being real with yourself. Therapeutic is the best word for it. If my day has been hectic or I have a million thoughts in my head, I find that writing them down, as well as writing them out completely relieves so much stress. Instead of writing “Richard made me mad today” and then closing your journal, try asking “why, how, and how can I fix it?” or things that will make your write for longer and in more detail. Push yourself to keep on writing. Order your thoughts, express your emotions, make lists, test out new ideas! I always keep paper around me for these reasons. I want my mind to stay sharp and my knowledge of language to stay true. Writing on paper is harder, but the benefits are numerous!
The paper is a blank canvas, do with it what you will and your mind and soul will thank you!