Friday, July 18, 2014

Old-School Reading And Writing And The Benefits

As I was going over a list of things to do today in terms of my blog, I was struck with how much social media has taken over a lot of my time.  I don’t  feel  like I can sit down and solely write content. The pull of social media sites is strong and many times I succumb, spending way too much time updating Facebook and Twitter posts, reading and responding to e-mails and trying to grow my social media reach.  This leaves me precious little time to actually write!  Bloggers are told that we need to have Twitter followers, Facebook likes, Stumbleupon thumbs up, Pinterest Boards, Klout Scores, LinkedIn connections and more!  I think it’s because people are looking for the quick bites of information via texts, notifications, e-mail , search terms and hash tags.  
  Research shows that 8 seconds is the new attention span limit.  It used to be closer to 21 seconds!  And of course bloggers want to take advantage of that 8 second window!  However, this constant stream of quick hits of information flooding the brain in random and rapid succession  is proving to be problematic  to the human memory.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley of UC San Francisco discovered that distractions are a key component in the natural decline of the human memory!  Think about it, what are distractions?  They are exactly what I am talking about.  Social media is a series of distractions! 

With the advent of the internet, social media, and its amazing capacity to supply information, we often neglect the part of the brain that needs to be exercised daily with reading and writing!  It’s kind of an irony that the Information Age is contributing to the dumbing up of Americans.  But we don’t have to let our brains succumb to the craziness.  We can do things, with both reading and writing, to exercise our brains and ensure we keep our edge, so important in an increasingly complicated world, constantly changing at a breakneck pace.


Reading a novel, short story or information on a topic you are interested in can keep the brain active and can prevent Alzheimers.  It can also improve your mood and helps to boost analytical thinking, along with developing vocabulary.  Reading fiction makes you more empathetic of others and also enhances your memory.  Cracking open a book makes you a better  writer, which is another important exercise you can do to help your brain counteract the mind numbing effects of the Age Of Information!


Writing is a wonderful way to boost the benefits that reading starts.  In addition to mental stimulation, writing is an exploratory exercise, giving you immense understanding into your own inner workings.  It can be very cathartic!  Doing a daily writing, whether it is in a journal, on a blog, or on a Word Doc, will help you immensely!  Do it first thing in the morning and it will wake you up and energize you.  Do it reflectively in the evening and it will relax you.  Writing with a purpose can accomplish so much!  An exercise that I think is very provocative is to write a historical fiction story, with a definite goal. The goal would be to write about one of your relatives or ancestors.  Maybe you know their name, where they were born and where they died, but not much else.  You know they existed and you, more than anyone else, have an interest in their life.  Bring it to life with your own writing! 

    My Guest writer, Aundria Kenning, has done just that!  She takes  a name, date and maybe one lone fact and turns it into a story woven around the life of that person.  It’s a fascinating concept that can illuminate the lives of those directly related to you! 

Aundria also helps writers improve their writing with coaching and suggestions on a site called  It is free and a great resource if you are wanting to become a better writer and aren’t afraid of a constructive comment  about things you have already written!   She is also a judge for writing contests at the site.  Here is what Aundria has to say about writing and our busy lives – 

"The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention." - Kevin Kelly, Wired magazine

Everyone is too busy! Texting has become the communication of the day. The messages are quick and concise and even the small words are abbreviated or left out altogether. Punctuation has been replaced by emoticons and misspellings are overlooked. A new language has been created and the magic of words has been forgotten. Free time is scarce and distractions are plentiful. Disconnection through connectivity is the challenge of our age.

With time at such a premium, how can we grasp and keep the attention of the wandering mind? How can we make our family history relevant in an age of instant information? How can we make our ancestors heard in an era where there is already too much noise?
Many genealogists want to inspire the members of their family with the hidden treasures and triumphs they have uncovered. They want to share their passion for family history and the wisdom of the generations that have come before. But they fear that these stories will wither and die for lack of interest and the lure of idle industry. I hope to help them accomplish this goal. I am fascinated by characters and hope to help discover the people behind the names.

By writing their stories in a short but informative form, short stories are quick and unobtrusive. They ask little time of the reader, yet can ignite their imagination. Through the use of historical fiction and short memoirs, we can breathe life into well-known anecdotes and create a spark of interest into otherwise forgotten family lore. The true character and thoughts of our ancestors will live again when the world they lived in is re-created.
If you are interested in joining a community of writers with this goal, and beginning your own online portfolio of family memoirs and their stories, please come visit us at the Roots and Wings Discussion Forum. This group offers a discussion forum, prompts to help you get started on finding these stories, and even a writing contest. It is located in an online writer’s community. While membership is required, it is free. To join our site, please visit to get started. If you have any questions, please contact Aundria Kenning at

 Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.  Posting guest content does not indicate personal endorsement or promotion.


Olivia Douglass said...

What a great post!! I am amazed at how much time is spent on electronic devices where writing and reading have become almost nonexistent!

Hilary said...

Excellent post. It's a shame people spend more time reading texts than they do reading books. I don't know very many people who still read books. I personally love reading and try to read a few books every month.

A GAL NEEDS... said...

Olivia, I believe it's just the times, but we don't have to make reading a lost art! Hillary, I also love to read, when I can squeeze in the time! And I think it should count as reading when you read your book on an electronic device, just sayin'!

Linda Szymoniak said...

I was an avid reader as a child, and it's followed me into my adult years. I can't imagine a life without books. Luckily, all three of my daughters learned their love of books and reading from me, and my middle daughter has even written three novels of her own.

A GAL NEEDS... said...

That is amazing! Reading to your children does pay off, doesn't it?

dd said...

I am forced to write letters to my elderly parents who have no other way of communicating with me. Takes some discipline!