Not sure if I’ve typed about this before, but I’ve recently developed a pretty strong love of writing longhand. And because my past few blog entries have taken so long with interruptions, editing, proofreading, inserting images, looking things up, creating appropriate hyperlinks… Today’s post should be pretty short. Because I’m basically taking going to take today off from the blog and write a love letter home to my wife and then break out my journal.
I’d like to see some studies done on this, but one thing I notice is that I’m more careful and deliberate when I write by hand. Putting ink to page removes the ease of correction that pixels on a screen give, so each sentence that I write for somebody else to read becomes that much more considered. It’s taken me a while to re-learn how to write in cursive after more than a decade of ignoring the practice and sometimes I start writing faster than I really can, leading to some unsightly corrections. But by and large I find the process to be much more fulfilling.
For one, handwriting is much more personal than helvetica on a screen. Who among us would really choose a simple email from a loved one over a handwritten missive that they took the time to craft themselves? There are a number of conveyances available to carry my words to another person, but only one with such a personal touch as my own handwriting. The different stresses and reliefs and indentations on the paper. Where ink flowed more vigorously from my Lamy 2000 fountain pen or was strained to wick out fast enough under a long and rapid stroke. Electrons do not capture this. An email can’t be spritzed was a hint of perfume or cologne for a loved one to smell. And when writing with a fountain pen, I have even more choices in colors of ink and types of paper (cotton vs. linen vs. laid, etc.).
The second thing I’ve noticed is that I enjoy the peace and quiet of crafting a letter this way. It’s really, REALLY nice to not have Facebook chiming in your ear with constant distractions, and I’m not looking things up on the internet. I simply observe, think, and write. The focus is much better and I feel more effective. I really believe the slower pace and permanence of the ink on the page encourages one to think and phrase things more clearly, and that will translate into day-to-day life simply because the brain is getting exercised in a beneficial way that can be applied elsewhere. I honestly feel longhand writing improves cognitive function. This essay mentions what I’m talking about.
My last observation before I stick in some links for your further reading is a simple one: appearances matter. And living in an age of typing and texting has contributed even further (I believe in my case, anyhow) to penmanship looking even worse than hurry and uncaring had already made it appear. My handwriting was atrocious and frankly, embarrassing. Writing as much as possible longhand has helped me get back in the groove and improved my penmanship’s appearance. Because a professional man shouldn’t have handwriting that looks like that of a ten-year-old. I print capitol block letters most times for clarity, but even that can look nice or awful depending on one’s level of care. Writing in cursive (or script) again has improved my penmanship on all levels and made it look far more professional. Aaybe you work in an industry where you think penmanship doesn’t matter. All I’ll say is my handwriting looks like it belongs to a grown-up now so I can be taken seriously. Does yours/can you?
Write longhand. Write in cursive. There are actually good reasons to do so. Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go write a letter to my wife.