Write your way to a better brain!

Last week I talked about writers who had kept up their craft well past what youngsters would consider to be their ‘prime’ (of course, in a few years those youngsters will most certainly redefine what they consider to be a ‘prime’ age!). Well, it seems that in fact, there’s more to this ‘aging and writing’ thing than I thought!

A recent study has revealed that as we age, word—both our writing and reading of them—can play an important role in keeping our brains healthy. Using MRIs, scientists have discovered that the more literary engagement we have, the lower the likelihood that we’ll develop cognitive problems (like Alzheimer’s or dementia) later in life. This includes activities as simple as letter-writing (don’t forget those Christmas letters), reading a newspaper, or even doing the daily crossword.

But aside from the cognitive well-being these activities promote, I’d argue there are benefits to our emotional well-being as well. Reading and writing helps us to engage with others and with our imaginations, and what can be more beneficial than that! Even in this digital age, the written word forms the foundation for all our interactions with the world.

So if you’ve had an idea for the next great novel brewing in your mind for years, what are you waiting for? Get writing—your brain’s health may depend on it!

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Writers can be a crazy lot—our quirks and collections can rival anyone out there. Most often, our collections are focused around the tools of our trade: notebooks, pens, pencils, typewriters, etc. I myself have an impressive collection of notebooks and pens, but it’s not strictly ornamental. Despite how digital everything, including the writing process, has gotten I still find myself taking an ‘old school’ approach to my craft. While it may surprise many: I write everything first with a pen and paper.

I’m the first to admit I’m not the most technologically savvy of people, but it’s no techno-fear that’s led me to writing longhand. I really feel like there’s something fundamentally different about putting lead to paper as opposed to banging away on a keyboard—I just feel more creative doing so. And it turns out, there’s some science to back me up!

It turns out that children write better when they use a pen as opposed to a keyboard, and the simple act of connecting the form of each letter actively engages your brain in a way that isn’t seen in typing.

But even if there wasn’t the scientific evidence there, I doubt you could dissuade me from utilizing my trusty notebooks. The fact is there’s something special about how these simple tools have been used to create masterpieces. This author summed it up beautifully.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go get some fresh notebooks and a spankin’ new pen.