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Paper Boosts Creativity, Comprehension... Ask Tarantino, Clooney

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The ability to write well by hand somehow fires up the creative writing part of the brain. This may be why some very well-known writers prefer paper to computers when it comes to composing their work, according to a Two Sides North America blog submitted this week by Phil Riebel, president, of Two Sides North America, Chicago, Ill., USA. Riebel offers several examples to support of his hypothesis:
  • Quentin Tarantino, the famed director who writes his own screenplays, always pens his masterpieces by hand in a notebook. (Reuters)
  • Actor, director, and writer George Clooney writes everything out by hand. "Literally when I cut and paste, I cut pages and tape them together." (Reddit AMA)
  • Author Amy Tan loves the act of physical writing and prefers to write early drafts of her work longhand. "Writing by hand helps me remain open to all those particular circumstances, all those little details that add up to the truth." (The Atlantic)
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri says she writes better when she pens books by hand. "I don’t write exclusively by hand but I think I feel freer when I write by hand...I write at odd times. I have a notebook by the bed." (Harper's Bazaar)
  • Neil Gaiman a sci-fi specialist prefers to write by hand. "For novels, I like the whole first and second draft feeling, and the act of making paper dirty." (TimeOut)
Riebel points out that young students who write by hand are found to write more quickly, produce longer pieces, with more ideas, and write more complete sentences than those who type on a keyboard. And brain imaging of older children asked to come up with ideas for a composition, shows that the ones with better handwriting had more activation in the parts of the brain associated with working memory, reading, and writing.
Writing on paper is not just good for creating great stories, Riebel continues. For young children, the development of handwriting is a complex task and recent evidence suggests that writing skills in preschool are strong predictors of reading and math achievement. But learning and creativity are not all about writing on paper—reading from paper books also matters, he emphasizes.
Children tend to remember more details from stories they read on paper than stories read in e-books enhanced with interactive animations, videos, and games. And students who read texts in print score significantly better on reading comprehension than students who read texts digitally.
Riebel points out that "perhaps this explains the results of a survey for Publishing Technology, which polled 1,000 consumers across the U.S, aged 18 to 34, and found that in the last year nearly twice as many respondents had read a print book (79%), than an ebook on any device. Michael Cairns, Publishing Technology CEO, said that ‘we undertook this research to better understand the reading habits and test our assumptions about a generation of young people born and raised in the digital era. We were quite surprised to discover that 18-34 year-olds are not as online-only as we, in the publishing industry, often assume’".
Handwriting and reading using paper and print deliver proven benefits and play an essential role in creativity, comprehension, education, and development, Riebel concludes.
More information on how print and paper play a key role in learning and literacy is available in a recent Two Sides Fact Sheet.

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