Handwriting

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I got a letter in the mail from a friend back in the States. This may possibly be the first personal letter I’ve received in decades. Business correspondence not included, of course. My friend is a Luddite – she has no internet at home, no smartphone and no email address. Anytime she absolutely needs the internet, she visits the local library. I cannot imagine living this way! However, if I’m going to be a good friend and keep in touch, I must respond with a physical letter of my own. And this I did today.

In an interesting little twist, I realized that despite being able to type up a letter to send, I have no way of printing it. I’ve come to depend so much on digital everything, that I don’t even keep hard copies of my own documents. Honestly, if the cloud ever goes down I am positively doomed. But really, I hate collecting paper. I was therefore, compelled to write by hand this letter to my friend.

How often do we actually use handwriting anymore? Besides our signatures, there are few opportunities to ‘write’ at length. My GP and dentist all use electronic forms. Nevertheless, I still hand write often. And strangely, I like my own handwriting. I have kept notebooks for all my writing projects and I nearly wrote the entire first draft of my first book in a series of notebooks. Some things are just better with pen and ink. I wonder though, if the following generations will use handwriting at all. And if they do, if it will be a form of block printing? I hear they’ve stopped teaching cursive handwriting in schools. And if that’s the case, will future generations no longer be able to decipher a document written in cursive?

It makes me a little nostalgic – writing by hand. I think of all the beautiful lines of poetry, the masterful works of fiction, the powerful speeches and philosophical treatises written by hand before being set to type for printing. I hope that somehow this fading skill will not be thrown in the dustbin of history. At least not in my lifetime!

 

42 thoughts on “Handwriting

  1. I still write in notebooks for planning and have done first drafts on occasion too. Although I spend most of my time typing instead there is something great about handwriting. I found a load of my old notebooks in the loft the other day and although they take up a good deal of space, can’t help but cling on to them.

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  2. One of my kids once wrote my grandmother a hand written letter. My grandmother absolutely loved it. Sometimes, I think there is so much beauty is some of the simpler things our modern society takes for granted, so I can imagine the joy you felt receiving a handwritten note. 🙂 ❤

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  3. I miss handwriting as well. Hell, we had to teach our boys at home how to actually sign their name. We wrote all of our clinical notes, evals, and d/c’s by hand until going electronic a few years ago. Supposed to make things more “efficient”, but when you combine not being able to get a computer because they’re all being used, internet down, or the billing program we use having bugs, it’s rarely more efficient. Don’t even get me started on writing an entire evaluation on a complex clinical patient only to have it disappear into the ether somewhere. I’d prefer to just hand write it out, honestly.

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    1. Oh I hear that! The office I was working in before my home office, was just about to convert to all digital. I was happy not to have to deal with it. I love technology in some respects but a lot of things are just easier to hand write! I foresee a day when everyone’s signature is actually printing not writing!

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  4. I can so relate to this post. Growing up, I used to see my parents read physical letters sent by my grandparents to them. I don’t remember the last time I got one. I love writing on paper – and it has been three years since I have been consistently journaling. It brings in a sense of calm, and the words somehow feel more tangible. I recently sent a letter to a friend on the West Coast – shall be patient and wait for the snail mail.

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  5. I still write by hand a lot–good old cursive, for my creative writing first drafts and also for notes to friends through snail mail. I was dismayed that even at my boys’ Catholic school, cursive was falling by the wayside. However, we learned that their new school, where they’ll attend next year, requires it. So, they have some making up to do this summer–but it’ll be worth it. I can’t imagine not being able to write in cursive. It’s so much faster than printing! A young lawyer working with my husband had to admit that he couldn’t read their boss’s notes–because they were in cursive. He’d never learned. It’s so useful and sometimes beautiful–not my handwriting but others’. And I don’t think it’s junk science that says there’s a cognitive benefit to it. I’d swear by it!

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    1. Wow! The move away from cursive has been going on longer than I thought! I really think it’s useful too and so much faster than printing when you absolutely have to note take. I feel like it’s just a little more ‘creative’ than simply typing. Firing our artistic neurons – even if the handwriting isn’t all that pretty!

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  6. I used to love to get letters and cards that meant something and hope people still do write them and maybe even increase doing so. The term ‘Luddite’ was one I used to apply to myself too, but then read that they did great violence to mills and mill owners etc., but I still embrace the theory of being against ‘progress’ that is not progress at all.

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    1. Yes, getting a handwritten note is a lovely treat. I enjoyed writing my letter today! I keep notebooks for all my projects too. And yes, I would mean Luddite in the modern application. I’m not at all anti technology. But not at the expense of cultural and meaningful skills that get lost in the rush to progress. Thanks Donnalee!

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  7. Thank you for your important post. I cannot fathom the shift away from teaching cursive in schools. Block printing is so much slower and certainly less attractive on the page. As for sending letters, I wish the international post wasn’t so slow! It took more than two weeks for a card to go from the U.S. to Australia. Years ago, I remember the delivery time was around ten days for U.S./Europe correspondence.

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    1. I suppose it’s less common now. So much reliance on email and social media for communication. I surely hope handwriting will survive and thrive over the years!

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  8. I find myself only really writing in birthday, celebration cards. But even that can be done online now! Loved your post – it definitely made me feel nostalgic too! Loved the photo at the beginning as well. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. My sister doesn’t drive and will ask someone to look up information for her on the internet. (Me) Not teaching cursive in school? Wow. That’s like not teaching someone how to read a face analog clock. Like you Meg, I depend on the cloud. If that goes away, you will have a stress buddy.

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