Sure, you don't really
need to pick up a pen again (one in three of us hasn't used one in six months for anything but a signature
). But know this: Handwriting switches on a cluster of brain cells, the reticular activating system, that engages the brain more deeply than typing. A University of Washington study found that when kids wrote, their ideas flowed more freely with pencil-on-paper than with fingers-on-keyboards
. (Writers Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and Annie Proulx can attest—they write entire novels in longhand.) In another study, adult students recognized Mandarin words better, and retained them for longer, if they had written the strokes than if they typed them
. Sharp point, sharper memory.