We live in a time when technology is king and the seemingly old-fashioned tools of pen and paper are eschewed. But if what you are doing is something that could be conceived as "creative," there are some very good reasons to go "old school." Since we've connected desktops to the internet, wired our offices with Wi-Fi, passed out laptops and smartphones, something has happened to the way we think.
We've snatched it all up as quickly as children snatch up cookies. But is it possible that, for all the convenience technology offers, our minds have been compromised? Particularly as it pertains to creative thinking?
Here are some things to consider, especially as it pertains to the creative process.
1. Digital is distracting. True creative thinking happens when the mind has an opportunity to wander, sometimes when you're a bit bored. But if you're constantly messing around with emails, Facebook updates, Instangram and text messages, you're robbing your mind of its power for creative thinking.
2. Writing by hand stimulates your brain. A study performed at Indiana University found that freehand writing stimulates the brain in three areas that typing does not. It has a similar effect on the brain as meditation.
3. When you write or draw by hand, it slows you down. We've been tricked by technology to believe that we can produce great ideas quickly. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Excellence still takes time and focus. According to neuroscientist Dr. Claudia Aguire, "Perhaps the greatest thing about handwriting is that the very act of doing it forces you to focus on what's important. It is, in essence, a moment of mindfulness."
4. Writing by hand enhances learning. Researchers at both Princeton and UCLA found that students learn better when they take notes by hand. This is because of what scientists call "concept mapping."
5. When you write by hand you produce more ideas. In a study conducted at the University of Washington, they found that "when children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas."
6. Scribbling is fun. That's why you liked it when you were a kid. And in the early phases of creative thinking, you need time to goof around. Scribbling is a way to get started.
7. Writing by hand makes you smarter. Psychology Today outlined many cognitive benefits to writing by hand, not the least of which is comparing its effect on the brain to that of playing a musical instrument.
8. Paper has no "delete" button. When you write or sketch by hand, you have a permanent record. Sometimes, you'll get lucky early and land on something good. You have a record of it. But if you're deleting as you go, you could accidently get rid of something terrific.
9. It's easy to get into a pattern with digital. It happens all the time. You start a new project with an old template. You cut and paste previous material. You've done it the same way so many times, etc. Pen and paper foster originality.
The point? Give it a shot. Put your phone somewhere else. Turn off the computer and the iPad. Whip out your moleskin notebook and a pen. And start scribbling. You might be surprised at the things you discover.