Can you read my writing?

In this age of text messaging, hash-tag tweeting, and video blogging, handwriting is a dying skill. I won’t say it’s a dying art. As handwriting continues to be viewed as less of a necessity in our daily lives, that is exactly what it is becoming, an art form.

Handwriting indeed seems to be evolving into less of a trade skill and more of an art. While I deeply object to penmanship’s lack of relevance, I do embrace its status as a form of beauty. There’s something alluring about the visual flow of a carefully self-penned letter. It’s able to convey personality and emotion in ways that Times New Roman can not. A handwritten letter shows intention; it’s crafted letters and spacing show perseverance and lack the suspicion or coldness of copy and paste-able emailed correspondence.

In the same spirit as other art forms, handwriting needs to be nurtured. Patient practice is needed in order to cultivate a true mastery rather than a ‘good enough to get by’ handle. Its unsettling to look through the notes of a smart, driven coworker and find them illegible. While we might not each have to strive to be professional calligraphers, there should be a healthy dose of pride taken in maintaining a higher level of penmanship than the average fourth grader. Keeping a travel notebook to write in daily not only will help to develop more confidence with a pen, but can also stimulate a higher level of thought and reflection. There’s something about writing out ideas and thoughts that seems to help my mind fully process through them in ways swype texting can not. I loved reading through this article and seeing the pictures of pocket notebooks of former leaders.

Word processors and the QWERTY keyboard are of paramount importance to the technological boom and social advancement we’ve seen over the past thirty years. There is no questioning their brilliance when it comes to increasing efficiency and effectiveness. Nevertheless, they have also bred laziness. Tools such as spell-check which save time and bolster confidence have also served as the gateway to indifference. When programs auto-correct misspelled words, is there even a purpose to learning the correct spelling in the first place?

Not everything needs to be done quickly. Taking time to write a meaningful note to a friend or loved one doesn’t have to be seen as an inconvenience or bullet point on our to-do lists. Words have power, and in this evermore technology driven world, handwritten words might have the most power of all.

image from the Rutgers collection of Thomas Edison’s papers

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