Can being left-handed help you write better?

8 August 2013

 Image by mnsc


This question has a somewhat round about answer…so bear with me.


During the Middle Ages, left-handed people were considered sinister and evil. Even up to the early 20th century, schoolteachers forced left-handed children to write right-handed – something that often resulted in very poor handwriting. And in some cultures today, using your left hand is considered unclean (I won’t go into why).


My mother, who is ambidextrous, was forced as a child to write and draw right-handed. But by the time I started school, teachers knew the drawbacks of forcing children to change, so they didn’t take the pencils and crayons out of my left hand.


People still comment on my left-handedness. They might say, ‘I didn’t know you were a south-paw!’ Or, in light of what we’ve learned about brain science in the past few decades, they might say, ‘You must be very creative’ (which for me isn’t true, unfortunately). The remark I like best, though, is ‘left-handed people are in their right mind’.


But how can being left-handed make you a better writer?


Inspired by nature

I recently heard a very interesting tip from a learning expert about being a better, more focused reader. And reading is the single best way to becoming a better writer (followed closely by lots of writing practice).


Super-learning expert Jim Kwik wasn’t always very good at learning. As a child, he fell and suffered a head injury, which resulted in learning challenges. Not to be discouraged, he experimented with methods until he discovered what would help him learn faster and better.


He took inspiration from nature.


Motion is the key

Animals of prey can easily spot small animals when they move. And their prey are also finely attuned to motion, focusing on what may be a danger to them.


According to Kwik, humans, like wild animals, are also attracted to motion, and can use that ‘superpower’ to become faster, more focused readers.


How do you do that?


Use what Kwik calls a ‘visual pacer’ as you read. This can be a small card or ruler under the lines of text you’re reading. Or it can be your finger, pointing word by word as you read.


Having taken speed-reading courses, I know the value of using a visual pacer. It keeps your eyes on the right line, and it can help you see entire lines of text, making it possible to read faster. It’s also easier to scan for specific information. (This is particularly useful on tests like IELTS or TOEFL.)


Tap your imagination

And the left-handed part? Kwik says that if you use your left hand to point as you read, your right brain will be tapped and your creativity will be more engaged. This, he says, helps to make the reading content come alive.


The movement of your hand will help you focus (like a wild animal focusing on movement), and engaging your imagination (by using your left hand to point) will help you remember more of what you read.


You can find more at Kwik's website:


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