The Only Trick You Need To Improve Your Writing

by Eliza Castile

Even if you write for a living, sometimes words just don't flow the way you'd like them to. (Full disclosure here: I spent 10 minutes staring at a blinking cursor before typing that sentence). Fortunately, the Internet is chock full of tips to make your writing better. Unfortunately, those tips aren't always helpful, largely because creativity is such a personal process. Although the "cloister yourself in a dark room until you finish writing or die" method may work wonders for some, others may find it a little confining, especially if you forget to pack a lunch. Nobody likes working on an empty stomach.

Finding writing tips that are scientifically-backed is even harder; in addition to being incredibly personal, creativity is notoriously difficult to quantify. However, researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario claim to have found an easy trick to improve the quality of pretty much anyone's writing — in fact, it's so simple that you might kick yourself for not noticing it before. (Alternatively, you may already know it, but that rather ruins the suspense.) Can I get a drumroll?

According to researchers, one trick to improving your writing skills may be as easy as... slowing down. Literally.

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychology , asked participants to type essays in two ways: With both hands, or one-handed. These essays were fed into a program that analyzed the quality of the writing based on criteria like vocabulary and sentence complexity. According to the results, essays that were typed one-handed were of better quality than those that were typed with both hands. Researchers write that this is likely due to the way one-handed typing forces writers to slow down, allowing them more time to think about word choice and sentence structure. Fast typing, on the other hand, appears to encourage writers to jot down whatever comes to mind first and move on.

Researchers noted that the results aren't proof that writers should only work one-handed, but senior author Professor Evan F. Risko pointed out that "going fast can have its drawbacks." Furthermore, one-handed typing only slowed writing down to the approximate speed of handwriting; there's no telling if slowing down more than that will help the quality of your writing. However, it can't hurt to try picking up a pen next time you have writer's block — in addition to the benefits of a slower pace, previous research has indicated that people are more likely to remember what they've hand-written later on than what they've typed.

Of course, one trick isn't going to finish the Great American Novel that's been sitting on your desk for two years; that's ultimately up to you. However, it looks like we could all take a cue from our furry sloth friends and slow down a little.

Images: Pixabay, Giphy (3)