The Penman's Blood by arnoKath

The Penman’s Blood by arnoKath

I have a confession to make. The content of my email inbox, with the exception of pictures of my nephews and the blogs I subscribe to, is uninspiring. My virtual letterbox tends to be filled with bills, receipts and reminders. Emails save time and money, yet still I long for days past. I’d like to cut down on the amount of missives I receive, and replace them with more satisfying ones. I’d choose fewer but longer emails over the perfunctory electronic communication of today in a heartbeat. What a joy it is to pour over rare long emails, the ones filled with delicious titbits of news and sensual descriptions of new experiences, reminiscent of the letters of old. Snail mail is even better. How wonderful to sink into a sofa, tuck your legs up under you and tear open a letter from afar, to see the ink smudges and individual characteristics of the lettering and for time to stop as you ingest the words on the page. I save handwritten letters. To me, they show love and thoughtfulness. Emails, in contrast, are a nuisance, another item on the to do list, an emblem of our throw away society. My finger is already hovering above the delete button before I’ve even finished reading them.

Up until the end of my degree writing longhand came naturally. Yet ten years on my handwriting is an eyesore. When writing greeting cards I have to take great care to ensure my scrawl is legible to others. I seldom sign my own name anymore, and when I do, lack of practice means my signatures bear only a passing resemblance to each other. My fingers have become lazy, as if they have lost the fine motor skills needed to write neatly. Despite the regression in my handwriting, my stationery collection grows by the day. My writing space is filled with beautiful notebooks and pens. A calligraphy set and wax seal kit adorn my desk. I have begun to wonder whether the growing mountain of stationery reveals a subconscious desire to return to old school drafting.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not a technophobe. I spend most of my day a finger’s breadth away from either a laptop or phablet. I wonder though whether it is wise to carelessly toss handwriting skills onto the rubbish pile. With the introduction of tablets into some schools, I don’t want handwriting to be treated like Latin is sometimes (I enjoyed Latin at school and find the grammar of other languages relatively easy because of my basis in it): a relic from the past. Will there ever come a day when it is an advantage on CVs not to boast of typing prowess but to proclaim the beauty of our handwriting? In generations to come will lovers send each other captioned selfies rather than handwritten love letters? Will there come a time when our great-grandchildren will be compelled to resurrect an ancient skill because in a world of power shortages it is no longer viable to have so many gadgets?

We don’t have to propel ourselves into the future to uncover reasons for us to maintain longhand writing skills. Scientists have long since made the link between writing by hand and faster absorption of information. Studies have shown it to combat age-related mental decline. But what are the advantages of longhand for writers? Research has shown that writing by hand taps into the right side of the brain, linked to intuition and creativity. Scribbling on post-it notes, a sketch pad or in a notebook is not linear writing and may be a better fit for the way we think. Craft books often extol the virtues of undertaking monotonous activity such as walking, driving and gardening to aid creativity. When writing Haruki Murakami runs and/or swims each day. It seems that when we are carrying out an activity that does not need much mental thought, ideas can come to us unbidden. Perhaps writing by hand has the same effect.

It’s all trial and error of course. One writer’s process is not going to be your magic formula. Your choice of writing instruments may change dependent on your mood and location, and the needs of your particular project. Writing by hand, even if only for a few hours (oh the ache after exams at school and university), takes its toll. I’ve never minded transcribing handwritten short stories but with writing time at a premium, typing a longer work seems like an unnecessary extra step, although I would imagine that dictation software might help and in any case it would be like taking a leap in the editing process.

It’s folly to assume, as I have done in the past, that writing on a computer is the most efficient way. Take my love of Scrivener, for example. It’s a fantastic organisational tool and satisfies my need for a clean work space. I prefer to start work in a tidy environment: our house, my desk, my laptop have to be well-ordered. Once I’m in the flow of writing, my neuroses about my work environment disappear and I am a happy mess of reference books, tea mugs and notebooks. But I have begun to wonder whether the very advantages of typing a first draft are in fact disadvantages for me. I tend to edit as I write, which means that my first draft is often quite close to my final draft. This means that story progress is slow, which in turn feeds my doubt. Often, my most productive days have been on holiday, when the glare of the sun on my laptop screen make it impossible to write and I am forced to turn to pen and paper.

Then there’s the pursuit of clarity of thought and precision of expression. Writing by hand forces us to slow down and consider our words carefully. We come to the point more quickly. For a wordy writer, this can only be a good thing. My ego sometimes swells as my fingers fly across the keyboard, only for me to realise moments later why the delete button is my friend. When we write by hand, we make an investment, we cut back on elaboration for its own sake. And there’s nothing like sitting on a park bench in your lunch break with a notebook on your lap, as you let the world fade into the background and disappear into your story world. With computers, even in distraction free mode, there are days when the insistent blink of the cursor, the buzz of electronics, the knowledge of the messages waiting in my inbox and the churn of social media are difficult to ignore. It’s on those days that it might be an idea to just pick up a sheaf of paper and a pencil. Writing is a solitary activity, and walking away from the computer is to abandon the notion we are constantly available to everyone.

Finally, selfishly, as a reader and someone who is honing her craft, I would love for authors to continue working partly by hand, and for those materials to be available in centuries to come, like J.K. Rowling’s plotting spreadsheet for Harry Potter and the manuscripts for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. How charming and inspiring it is to see the scribbled notes and revisions of authors. Those notes are neither like a sanitised computer manuscript nor the printed texts. They are proof that writing is, first and foremost, a labour of love.

Join the conversation! 498 Comments

  1. More and more schools are dropping handwriting-beyond simple printing- from their curricula and it pains me. We process information differently, use different parts of our brain, when we write longhand, not to mention fine motor skills. Denying our children that intellectual formation is a tragedy of creative thinking.
    Thank you for the lovely post.

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  2. Loved this Nillu. Really great post. I miss getting long letters from friends. I might revive sending them and see what I get back! ;)
    First off I’ll be needing (wanting) to get myself a calligraphy set and wax seal! Not sure what I’d use the wax seal for but I want one. (To go with that non-existent mahogany writing desk of mine!)
    It’s really interesting what you say about “My fingers have become lazy, as if they have lost the fine motor skills needed to write neatly.” Just the other day I was writing something by hand and my fingers ached! Physically ached. I think because I’d been off work for two weeks and so wasn’t marking books and I’d lapsed on my daily diary keeping of late, which is when I do usually keep daily handwriting at the fore.
    As far as writing my novel goes, I often will write the first few paragraphs by hand in a notebook. You are right when you say the physical act of writing slows the thought process down. I think I need to do this at the start of a chapter. It helps organise my thoughts better. I do all outlining in notebooks for the same reason. I also think if you write it down physically it helps you make the connections needed and aids memory.
    I’ve always been one at lectures, or now on training days, to take copious amounts of notes. The facilitator will always say: “Don’t worry about taking notes, they’re on the handouts.” But I know the info won’t settle in my brain as well and I’ll never look at them again. I am more likely to look at my own notes a gain as it reminds me of the links my brain was making as I wrote.

    Anyway I’ll shut up now! Really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    • Hi JB (I think I’ve stolen that from Roger), thanks for taking the time to pen a long comment, appreciate it. And yes, get a wax seal! So much fun, especially with little ones around to help…although mine didn’t have the aesthetic appealI was going for one tiny hands had been involved. I can picture you in lecture halls, scribbling furiously. It made me smile. Outlining in notebooks is a great idea. I must try that. Glad you enjoyed it, n

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  3. Handwriting does, it seem, to be a casualty of a culture that demands things at ever-increasing speed, often at the expense of having them done properly. An entire generation of children is growing up without the ability to sign their names, and we’re losing something special in the process. Thanks for the reminder.

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    • Haha, there are similar comments in ancient rome! :D
      https://xkcd.com/1227/

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    • This is so true ~ everything has to be immediate, everything has to be now. This leads to a drop in quality across the board. Disappointing, but at least there are some who still appreciate things that aren’t wrote “lyk dis” to save time!

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      • Oh dear, “lyk dis” made me cringe, but I think that’s the impact you were going for! I’d like to protect a high standard of written and spoken communication across the board, and I guess some might say that’s snobby, but communicating well brings opportunities. Cheers for the comment, appreciate it.

  4. We’re too eager to throw the baby out with the bathwater sometimes. I hope we don’t face a future where children can’t write their own names, but I fear it’s a possibility that their lives will be governed by gadgets even more than ours are.

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  5. I think I’m one of the few folks who only write with a pen or pencil on a page. With a PC, it’s like my mind just freezes. But my handwriting is horrible, like my hands are playing catch up with my mind and flailing in the process. No futur

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    • Thanks. I know that feeling of your hands playing catch up. It almost lulls me into the ideal creative state though – between the effort of my hands and my head, there is no room for doubt to creep in.

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  6. Quite the thoughtful post. I shuddered when I read that schools would no longer teach cursive. My sons, who are in their 40s now, still print, and even that is barely legible. What a shame! I bought a calligraphy set many, many, years ago, and taught myself the art. It definitely helped my handwriting. I have never had a wax seal. I imagine it would be fun for sending out Holiday and birthday cards. I’ll have to investigate that some more.

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    • Thank you. I used to love doing calligraphy. I’d spend hours as a teenager with my set. Wax seals are so much fun. My 4 year old daughter likes to help though and because she is still practising, it often looks like a dog has messed on the envelope…

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  7. Reblogged this on Technology and commented:
    That’s cool. & interesting.

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  8. Twitching serial killer, here. At least that’s what my handwriting looks like. Pharmacists can’t decipher it, it’s like ten Jack Russell terriers making tracks in the snow. If I ever write a suicide note, forensics won’t need to translate it, they’ll just roll their eyes at the page and say, “Well, obviously.” When you write that erratically, it’s like having your own secret code.

    Thank goodness for keyboards. I can make those dance.

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    • Love this comment, you made me laugh. Some fantastic imagery there. Yes, sometimes only a keyboard will do. You’ve made me want to go and learn a bit about handwriting analysis.

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      • Graphology rocks hard. I studied it intensely until I found the “serial killer” bit. Actually, my particular style is 90% genius, 10% serial killer, so you’re probably safe. Probably. Wait, did Einstein ever go medieval on anybody’s ass?

  9. writing used to be an art………… maybe now it can revert to the truly beautiful form of it rather than punishing our hands for truly atrocious school essays.

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  10. Reblogged this on The Higher Firewall and commented:
    Want to write freely again? Feel the joy of holding the pen and surf through the mystic world of your handwritten paraphernalia!

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  11. Reblogged this on Die fabelhafte Welt der Minnie Kassovitz and commented:
    Diesen Beitrag habe ich gerade eben über den Reader meiner WordPress-App entdeckt, und was soll ich sagen – dem ist nichts mehr hinzuzufügen.
    Ich überlege, ob ich es nicht doch noch ein Mal mit einer Brieffreundschaft versuchen will; die letzte ist an der permanenten Unfähigkeit meiner Brieffreundin gescheitert, ihre Antworten richtig zu frankieren, und das hat mich ehrlich gesagt ziemlich verbittert. Naja, vielleicht klappts dieses Mal?

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  12. Yes! I discovered a stack of handwritten letters my dad wrote to me during my freshman year of college. It was such a joy to pour over them all again.

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    • Oh that sounds gorgeous. There’s nothing better than rereading letters from loved ones years down the line. I keep mine and sometimes reading them is like going back in a time machine…often cringe worthy, revelatory and an aid for my poor memory.

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  13. I love my tablet and my Bluetooth keyboard that I use with it. But there’s something about writing in nature, even if just in my back garden that makes the writing flow. And it is those times when a tablet isn’t practical and I use pencil and paper. I definitely prefer pencil to pens. I like the writing to be a smooth movement rather than scratchy. I love your post. We shouldn’t just assume that typing is best.

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    • Thanks for your comment Nikki. Yes, that’s a fantastic point about the connection to nature, and also to the quiet. My ideal writing environment would be by the sea, ideally sitting on the beach with a notebook and fountain pen in hand.

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  14. There came a point when I realised how bad my handwriting was and just wanted to learn how to improve it through calligraphy or something! this post reminds me of that. I used to write like ten years ago, in a notebook and compose poems as well but when I started to blog it declined drastically, I think it’s because I tend to think more about what I write when I need to post it for people to see unlike when journalling, you just express yourself on paper. I recently bought a Moleskine journal and even though I don’t blog to the world what I wrote and have readers or likers and whatnot, I find the outpour of ideas overwhelming.

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    • It’s funny how quickly our handwriting can decline. Moleskines are beautiful. They make me want to stroke them! Yes, there’s something about typing that almost presumes that there will be an audience. There’s a place for that, but the intimate nature of handwriting also has advantages. I need to work at using both in tandem. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  15. Beautiful writing. Despite being a teenager firmly ensconced in the world of Facebook and the like, I too, much prefer a handwritten letter over an email – it’s just so much more personal and meaningful in a world of 4-year-olds on iPads.

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    • Thank you. Oh I completely agree. I’m not a purist, but I find myself telling my parent to not give our kids (1 & 4 years old) their phones or iPads so often. I’d just much rather they had some paper and colouring pencils. Or a block that they pretended was a phone. You’re right, it’s about meaningful interaction, whichever medium we choose to use.

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  16. Fantastic Post! I had to show my students how to sign their name in cursive when we took a standardized test….and, I am a firm believer in letter writing.

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  17. Fantastically put-together post – was the draft handwritten? :)

    I’ve recently begun stashing notebooks and pens everywhere – my bedside, my desk, my car, my workplace – and writing down increasingly erratic notes. It’s been great to file thoughts away on something physically apart from my phone and computer, and revisit them a day or a week later. I think other comments have also mentioned this, but the relative slowness (being both left-handed and blessed with very shaky hands) of my handwriting vs. my typing gives me space to breathe, and it’s rare that I will pause writing.

    Calligraphy is probably a bit beyond my reach, haha.

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    • Thanks, and ironically, no ;) Don’t know about you, but just being surrounded by notebooks and pens makes me happier. That sounds great. I must follow my own advice more often!

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      • I like to use the one on my desk as a containment zone for all the silly thoughts I want to google as a form of procrastination – and then gorge on them all after I’ve got enough writing done.

        Greatest hits of this list include “why do dogs like stuffed toys” and “how to be a social historian”!

  18. Excellent post! I wrote a cheque the other day and it made me realize how much dexterity I’ve lost! It made me realize that I should take the time to write something every day. I’ve also started Zentangle drawing. It is still quite difficult to make the ink go where I want it to!

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  19. There will be a day that our brains will have their waves picked up by the computer and our thoughts placed on the screen. Books will be written with the mind. The art of writing with ink will be learned by a select group of people trying to keep this concept alive like a dead language.

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    • Yes I’ve no doubt that’s where we’ll end up. You’ve expressed that concept poetically and in many ways it would be a marvel. For me, there is a physicality about writing that taps into our creative wells in a way that technology does not currently. It’s less about the medium and more about the process. You are right though, the writing is already on the wall when it comes to longhand.

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  20. Wonderful post. I share your delight in feeling the love within the swirls of received longhand. My world is full of the latest gizmos, too, though sometimes it is truly refreshing to find a meaningful card and send it off with my less than legible scratchings inside. ;-)

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    • Beautifully worded comment. Your talk of swirls and scratchings are so appropriate for an art form that is running out of time. A friend of mine told me recently that she sends origami presents with her letters on special occasions. Thanks for commenting

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  21. Writing longhand can be a real joy – especially when augmented with a few good fountain pens and an assortment of inks! I have long believed we process information differently when we write, as opposed to typing. Last week I read about an experiment which showed students who wrote their notes in class, as opposed to using their laptops, had higher retention and better marks.

    Thanks for your post. I enjoyed it!

    Daly

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    • Hi Daly, I’m a sucker for a fountain pen too. I’m certain it makes my handwriting better! The experiment you mention is interesting. I think typing is somehow more an automated process. The keys are in the same place, it’s repetitive. With longhand, your hand moves across the page, your fingers form subtle variations on the same letters, you perhaps have to summarise when transcribing because your hands can’t keep up with the speech…I wonder if you retain more information for these reasons. Cheers for reading.

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  22. Nillu,

    Such a pleasure to see you Freshly Pressed, especially for this fantastic post. I love longhand writing, though I can’t write fiction that way. But I make sure to write in my journal as often as I can, as often as I remember, which I find grounds me and has helped to shape my ability to craft words. It also allows me to think critically and emotionally about my experiences, which I think helps me as a writer in the long term. I definitely agree that longform writing is harder and more time-consuming, but absolutely worth it.

    Thanks for this lovely post. Cheers! AKM –

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  23. Hi Nillu,
    I’m glad I’m beginning to find more people who feel the same way about handwriting! There’s just that sense of thoughtfulness and intimacy you get from receiving (or giving) a handwritten note. It’s so unfortunate that schools no longer teach handwriting. Longhand writing may be headed towards being a thing of the past, which is such a great loss.

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  24. I keep a handwritten journal, and I print my handwriting. But I’ve been considering re-learning cursive, since my print looks so bad, which sometimes makes it painful to read my own entries. And I definitely agree with your point on clarity of thought and handwriting.Just the act of forming the shapes of letters rather than punching buttons on a keyboard deliberates your thought-process. My university has a semester-long off-campus program where students live in a yurt village in the middle of the woods in the Adirondack Mountains-like studying abroad, but being immersed in nature rather than a foreign culture. One defining characteristic of the program is that students don’t have access to computers. Instead, all of their work is handwritten, including research papers.

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    • I’ve been there when it’s hard to read your own writing, and each time I tell myself I’ll concentrate more the next time. Neat used to be my default but the lapse in practice means unreadable is the norm now. I find a good pen helps though. The campus program sounds amazing – the students must come away with a fantastic bond. I must look it up.

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  25. I bring a notebook everywhere and generally write down poems longhand before typing them up for future collections.

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    • That sounds wonderful. I too am reliant on the notebook I carry around with me to record fleeting thoughts and more. I feel naked without it, but then I know some authors who pen whole blog posts and stories on their mobile phones. I couldn’t imagine doing that myself.

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  26. I totally agree! I love putting pen (Fountain pen that is) to paper to get my point across. This blog sight however allows me to get my writings out to more people than a pen and note pad allows for. :)

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    • I’m with you on the love for fountain pens, but also blogging. The world is now unimaginable without electronic communication, and it has huge advantages. I’d never have imagined this post would be read by so many, for example. The irony!

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      • Agreed! I have so many stories in the works but have neither the money nor time to finish them. Blogging only takes a few moments out of the day. And the people who read those blogs! I started back in either Jan. or Feb. and already have over 100 likes on my “Words from LadyTeaWitch” That is my Rant, general info and happenings page. I have three other pages on here in connection to this, and the second best would be my “Sassy Sadie” which is basically a diary about the day and the trials of being a (now) two dog owner. Sadie being the newest and youngest. keep up the writings. You are good!

      • Your blog sounds wonderful. I must check out the pages you mention, especially the trials of a dog owner :). And for a new blog, sounds like you are having fun and already have lots of readers. Congrats

      • Thanks. I love reading the writings of others as well. As said, keep up the good work.

  27. I feel like writing a letter longhand now thanks to this.. smiles. I’ll definitely be more appreciative of my journalling time tonight from it.

    I’m actually very interested in handwriting, it seems to reveal a lot about our personality, in case you aren’t already aware! Additionally, we can rehabilitate ourselves through changing our handwriting traits to reflect stronger personal characteristics, how about that? I’ve been thinking of writing a post on that for a while but kept brushing it off. I just might write it a lot sooner now after visiting your blog.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Lila

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    • Glad to have been of service ;). These comments have inspired me to look into handwriting analysis. I’d not heard that before, about changing handwriting traits. I must look out for that post of yours!

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  28. Electronic communication is essential but handwritten letters are irreplaceable. The latter has more personal touch and conveys more feeling and sentiment. I’d choose a hand-written letter over an email any day.

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  29. I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award, check out my blog for the details. :)

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  30. Wonderful! My friend and I used to write to each other a long time ago. This re-inspired me to start writing on paper again!

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  31. I wrote my younger sister a letter and hid it inside a book I sent her this morning. It felt like we were sharing secrets – so much fun :) Congrats on the Freshly-Pressed!!

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    • Cheers Carrie. I feel very lucky to have been FPed. Think it helped that the editor who found me had been using longhand to get unblocked and was currently reading Murakami, who I mentioned. In any case, having extra readers is lovely. And that is one more reason why I’d love to have a sister…can’t imagine my brother ever doing that! ;)

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  32. Reblogged this on Mary's Musings….. and commented:
    I love writing~ and send out Thank you notes and note cards as often as possible to friends and family~ and I do all of my article writing & poetry long hand before I ever post to word~

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  33. Great post. It’s so sad that handwriting is becoming a lost art :(

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  34. I feel you. I do a lot of my documentations on computers as opposed to manual before. Then, I found this part time job where they still do things manually. Found out, I could no longer write. It’s an exaggeration but let’s take the word responsibility… when I tried writing it in long hand, it ended me spelling it as rsponsiblty – like my hand have a mind of its own. It refused to spell words right. So now, I try to write as much as I can and re-train my hands to embrace the beautiful stroke of each alphabet.

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    • Oh that’s a great point. So automatic spell check means that we no longer even need to be able to spell accurately. I wonder if fingers eventually remember how to form the letters, like when you are picking up an instrument you have become rusty at, or whether it is actually like relearning. Thanks for your comment

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  35. Reblogged this on u2shushi and commented:
    I LOVE AND MISS RECIEVING LETTERS FROM MY PENPALS!!

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  36. I love it!! I miss letters in the post!!! Happy to know, I am not alone in this adoration! <3

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  37. This is what I’ve been thinking about the past few days! How much I miss receiving and sending handwritten letters. I doubt I can even remember how things are suppose to be done in the post office! Oh my! My relatives from the US still send us holiday letters through handwritten mail and maybe I should start replying to them in the same manner instead of just through social media.
    I still do my notes in school manually and even though I have a tablet, I still use its stylus for taking notes. There’s definitely a different feel to the flicking of the wrists to just the tapping of the fingers.

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    • I wonder if one of the pluses is that you are less likely to receive a dozen letters a day, whereas emails pile up. The rarity of letters makes them special. Stamps are so expensive in the UK, and with many Post Offices closing down too, letter writing has become a luxury rather than a staple. I’d never much thought about using a stylus before the comments today. I must look into it!

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  38. Oh, I so agree. Getting a handwritten letter was always one of the highlights of my life, the longer, the better. I always loved the feel of pen in hand as the words flowed from my fingers. At 51, I’m now finding my handwriting to be halting, and I have to take great care to form the letters correctly. It no longer feels natural. And I miss it.

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    • Many of us are in the same position with our handwriting faltering from lack of practice. I feel lucky though to have gone to school at a time when it was still a large part of the curriculum, and more, that it was of obvious use to the outside world. Never too late to improve it though. I’ve mentioned a few times in the comments that I will personally be trying to exchange cursory emails for less frequent handwritten letters. A friend mentioned she surprises people with an origami gift inside her letters. Such a charming idea.

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  39. What are the odds that I was discussing exactly this with my parents at dinner last night! :) Lots of schools have now stopped teaching cursive writing and I wonder how long it will be before they decide even teaching printed script is a waste of time and embrace typing full on. I love technology, but I find it limiting and I find it hard to retain information which is why I gave up my attempts at e-books. Typing notes in the margins or on post-its on your pdf files is definitely a bonus, but there’s just something about scrawling your notes in the margins with your own unique symbols and figures that just opens up a whole new level of understanding. With my friends, I’ve even given up on email. It takes a good couple of weeks before my hand-written letters reach them, but I love the build up to actually receiving the letters – the trips to the post office, the exchange of calls wondering if it’s possible our thoughts got lost in the mail, the excitement at getting a call that there’s a parcel waiting for you and the joy of tearing open the envelopes to devour the contents. One click emails are just so… blah.

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    • Ha, it’s like mutual consciousness, or osmosis of ideas. I’d say it won’t be long before typing replaces most writing in schools. Great point about scrawled notes, unique symbols and reaching increased levels of understanding. You’re right, sometimes with handwriting, we can write things that make sense to us and us only, shortcuts that reflect how we are wired as individuals, that can never be done on a generic keyboard. Wonderful description of the excitement of snail mail. Your significantly shorter description of emails in contrast made me laugh out loud.

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  40. I absolulely love long-hand writing myself! I write letters to a couple of people who – like me – are still stuck in “pen pal” mode and love those personal snail-mail letters arriving in their boxes! I wish they would continue to teach it ….and make kids get GOOD at it. When I went to school in the late 60’s &70’s penmanship was a class and you got a grade. My personal penmanship is pretty nice although a little on the small side! Long live pen and ink!!! :)

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    • I treasured the pen pal relationships I had when I was younger. There’s something about the patience you need for writing and receiving letters that make the end result that much more delightful. Yes, long live pen and ink! *clinks wine glass with yours/feels like one of the Three Musketeers*

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  41. The day I typed my first paper in school was beginning of the end of my beautiful signature. This was beautifully written. Thank you.

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  42. I loved this post. I never much liked school but I always got excited when it was time to get new notebooks, pins, and pencils. Even now when I see fresh paper I just want to write. Anything. I love my electronics but nothing will ever beat a pencil and paper.

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    • Oh I remember that feeling of having a brand new exercise book at school and the promise it held within its empty pages. I still get that feeling when I go stationery shopping today, and much prefer it to buying clothes. Thanks for commenting

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  43. nicely worded..well written…just when i had started wondering why my bankers are calling to rewrite cheques with increasing regularity..signature mismatch 10/10..:-))…hope to write for web rather than type..stylus style maybe..

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    • Stylus style is a fab idea. My mobile is a Samsung Note (first generation) and it has a stylus, although it doesn’t seem to recognise what I’m writing much of the time. If that software was better, we might have a good compromise.

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  44. Reblogged this on BlackSunLIon and commented:
    I love it

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  45. Hey buddy,
    I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head here. I’m 21, everybody my age will only ever write with a keyboard. I’ve always written by hand whenever possible, and always practiced. Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary Japanese swordsman, always reinforced that to become great with a blade you first have to become great with a pen. I would say elegant handwriting is by far one of the most under rated skills. I started writing with a novel when I was 16, I only finished the first draft last year (about 80,000 words) but the notes for the novel itself, it’s side stories and the notes for the universe it’s set in, when all put into one pile is about two inches thick, most of the pages double sided. When I’m not writing anything for the novel, I still practice a few pages each night, it’s something I actually take kind of seriously. I find it because it’s something that requires all concentration, but almost no thought, it’s just an incredibly pleasant equilibrium of the mind. It’s my meditation. I guess very few people would look at it that way, but I don’t think handwriting will ever entirely become a thing of the past. There will forever be a few people, passionate about fountain pens like some kind of underground circle of really scrawny knights. I’d like to start some kind of campaign, promoting handwriting. “If you want babes with curves, have letters with even better curves” I dunno. Sex sells, right? Anyways, handwriting is an amazing thing. Amazing things never truly die.

    Reply
    • I love that Miyamoto Musashi anecdote and the idea of an underground circle of scrawny knights dedicated to practicing and preserving handwriting. How fantastic you started writing your novel so young. I’m completely with you on how it triggers a meditative state. A handwriting campaign is a grand idea, but I fear it would be very low on the list of priorities for most people. In some ways we have become slaves to technology. Not sure about the campaign slogan though ;) Cheers for taking the time to comment

      Reply
  46. I am a college student and a proud luddite. I truly miss the art of longhand writing…I miss receiving christmas cards. I now receive the occasional email…sadface

    Reply
  47. Reblogged this on joshluxion's Blog and commented:
    I support this.

    Reply
  48. I completely agree! I love handwriting things, not only do I retain more information if I write something down on a piece of paper, but it adds the personal touch.. you can look back through your diary and see what sort of mood you were in purely based on what your handwriting looked like that day. I really hope we don’t lose it!

    Reply
  49. Reblogged this on iamrandomsam and commented:
    The pen to paper reminder:) I am NOT alone. I do miss the handwritten notes

    Reply
  50. I love this Nillu, very great post. It is most scary to see a future of a new age where there will be more computers than books and pens. Carligraphy is gradually giving way or more less turning into a second option as I may prefere to jot scrape vividly and type the whole lot of chronologic ideas. Will the new generation see the vitality of a tradition as old as time? Great job Nillu.

    Reply
    • Thanks. This post has taught me that there are a lot more handwriting lovers out there than I realised. I doubt there is a future for it, unfortunately, but it would be such a shame if computers were our only way of written communication. Cheers for commenting

      Reply
  51. Nice post. yeah was every common

    Reply
  52. Great post. I still hand write as much as I can, and because almost everything is for my eyes only I don’t worry about whether it’s legible or not. As long as I can read it, that’s enough. I’ve been told my handwriting looks like a spider has crawled across the page. Personally, I think if you turn the page over and look at it from the other side it looks very pretty.

    I find the words flow better when I’m writing by hand than when I’m typing. The lure of the delete button is always there when I’m typing, so I spend so much time stopping, reading, editing, deleting. But there’s no chance to do that when writing by hand. It’s slower, and my thoughts flow at roughly the same speed as they come out of my pen. I’ll often write things out by hand first, and then type them up. It’s also easier to scribble a few lines down in a notebook when I’m out than it is to haul around my laptop everywhere.

    Reply
    • I love your first paragraph. Reminds me that everything is a matter of perspective. I’m much the same. My inner editor wins too early in the process when I’m writing on the computer and stories take an age to find their way onto the screen. I like too your emphasis on how convenient it is to take a notebook with us. Convenience is usually what we would equate with computers. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Reply
  53. I love to receive handwritten letters or mails and try to send handwritten letters once in a while to the special ones.

    With so much of computer usage these days, my handwriting ha gone bad. Luckily I am into teaching profession and a lot of times I have to write on the board. The surprising fact is that my writing on the board has improved but writing on paper is still not great.

    Reply
    • That’s so strange that your board writing and paper writing haven’t improved at the same time. I guess we need even finer motor skills for paper writing. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment.

      Reply
  54. You’ve convinced me to write two letters the old-fashioned way, and maybe some poetry. For everything else I’m sticking to digital. You think paper grows on trees?

    Reply
  55. I too have gone back to handwriting on my work breaks and whilst on the bus. I feel as if I’m somehow living on the edge and closer to the story.

    Reply
  56. I loved your blog!! As someone who writes everything long hand and has helped many young people over the years to re-connect with the joy of letter writing I found your words heartwarming to say the very least.

    Letters in particular are often so special and something that we treasure and read time and time again and it is so sad that on the whole it’s a dying form of communication. Perhaps we should do a campaign to get it back on everyone’s agenda :)

    You have really blessed me with you words today and for that I am truly grateful. Keep up the great work, have a wonderful day and God bless you lots :)

    Reply
    • Hello, such a lovely comment. Thank you. A couple of people have mentioned starting a campaign. I’d love to see some new research to show whether our instinctive feelings about the benefits are backed up. It’s great that you have helped young people with letter writing. Perhaps we should still set up traditional pen pal relationships in schools. Thanks again for your comment.

      Reply
      • You’re very welcome :)

        It would be definitely worth pursuing, let me know how you go on and if I can help in anyway.

        Have a great day and keep up the wonderful work, God bless you lots :)

  57. Congratulations on Freshly Pressed :) I don’t normally do this but ask you to read this post as my comment. I feel so strongly about cursive writing…

    http://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/shoebox/

    Happy to have found your blog.

    Reply
  58. Thanks for this article. Hand writing is slowly and surely disappearing.

    I am one of those who still carry a paper and pen as I wonder around my inspirational places writing. I am more inspired writing in long hand than on the keyboard where I have to hear the sound of the keyboard strikes when I am deeply immersed in a story and pouring it out like a running tap. Most of my scripts originals are handwritten first then typed. Oh, I have one of the beautiful hand writings, perfectly ideal for Cards. I have the natural art of writing talent.

    Reply
  59. Reblogged this on Crohn's and Cupcakes and commented:
    I adore this piece for it so eloquently states the visceral need to write by hand.

    Reply
  60. I always found that writing with pen and paper to be a much more thoughtful process that demanded greater reflection. I enjoyed your thoughtful article and encourage you to keep up the good work!

    Reply
  61. I fully agree. It’s a shame we don’t do it as much any more and it’s a shame it’s becoming a lost art. There are some things that as just better written by hand. Letters, poetry. Something is being lost along the way.

    Reply
  62. It was a great post! I saw my handwritten letters when i was a child and when i read it i laugh because i dont know what iam writing about that day. :)

    Reply
  63. although my handwriting is not beautiful, it makes feel more comfortable.

    Reply
  64. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I love the sentiment you share and I agree. My writing began with journaling (handwritten) and evolved into notes passed to friends at school. Eventually, that matured to letters, written and mailed. These letters are tangible treasures. Coincidentally, I wrote a piece about the poignancy of re-reading a 17 year old letter I’d saved. I normally don’t link back to my own blog in Comments, but if you’re interested, here’s another perspective on the appreciation of letters and long-hand.
    http://forthearchives.net/2014/05/02/letter-love/
    Glad to learn of your site. Aloha.

    Reply
    • I’d completely forgotten about passing secret notes at school. What fun that was! Beautiful alliteration in your comment: ‘tangible treasures’.

      I checked out the post you mentioned. What a wonderful letter, so full of description and almost an imprint of your friend’s character, recording what she has noticed in her environment, with her inserted words and manual emphasis of the bits important to her. I love also that there is a mention of a Walkman. Absolute treat to find your website. Look forward to reading more posts, n

      Reply
  65. Although cursive handwriting isn’t emphasized in our 4th grade curriculum, I still make sure to allow time for my students to practice. It’s definitely a great way for students to get excited about writing and it also brings out their personalities!

    Reply
  66. this is fabulous! I find that when I send a letter, I feel a deep sensation of enjoyment and comfort. I’m glad there seems to be a revitalization of this lost art taking place and spreading.

    Reply
    • You put your finger on it. It is comforting. When I initially wrote this post I thought penmanship was headed for extinction eventually. There have been so many ardent supporters of handwriting in the comments though, that I think you could be right and a revitalisation is possible. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  67. Reblogged this on Simply Beautiful and commented:
    THE FORGOTTEN JOYS OF LONGHAND WRITING

    Reply
  68. I love going through Freshly Pressed posts because I get to read a lot of great ideas from different people. Seeing this post made me smile and remember how good it feels to write longhand. I used to give friends long (sometimes rambling) handwritten letters; sadly, text messaging and email and even Facebook has put an end to that. :( It’s nice to know longhand writing is not (yet) a lost art. I’ll keep your post in mind and teach my growing daughter the wonders of longhand writing. :)

    Reply
    • Freshly Pressed is like a bag of pick ‘n’ mix sweets, isn’t it? We have so many ways now to communicate in short bursts. Maybe blogging is more similar to letter writing (albeit to strangers) than I realised before. I’ll be doing the same with our young kids. Thanks for commenting

      Reply
  69. Reblogged this on Pen Pals and commented:
    This is so true and exactly why I look forward to receiving letters off of my pen pals so much!

    Reply
  70. Upon her passing I read in an obituary for Hedy Lamarr that she only responded to autograph requests if it was accompanied by a handwritten letter with neat handwriting. Since I received the photograph I sent to her back with a big, beautiful signature adorned across it, I have since then taken it as a substantiation that I have good handwriting. :)

    But more to the point, I continue to derive a great deal of pleasure from writing in longhand, and you hit on a lot of the reasons why. And since I’m currently polishing up the CV, I got a chuckle about your comment that maybe someday that is what we’ll boast about when advertising ourselves, not our ability to type quickly. Thanks for the insightful post.

    -jesse

    Reply
    • Hi Jesse, what a wonderful anecdote. A lady with exacting standards, and a charming way to cut down on the number of autographs she had to sign. Fantastic seal of approval for you too. I wouldn’t have passed muster! Good luck with your CV tweaking and thanks for your comment

      Reply
  71. I have started writing by hand again, after many years of using my computer. It’s a different kind of writing. More thoughtful. Slower. And, if you use pencil, you can erase. Unfortunately for modern kids who don’t learn penmanship (unless you’re going to Catholic school, and even then, there’s no emphasis on it), they will never know longhand. So sad.

    Reply
    • I never realised until reading the comments on this post how many people choose pencils as their writing tool. It is sad, and I hope it will come full circle, like it has done for me.

      Reply
  72. An excellent post, Nillu! Writing in general and longhand in particular have become to our generation as foreign as Sumerian cuneiform. It is truly refreshing to see someone who holds fast to the glories of the past while living vivaciously in the present! I look forward to reading your future contributions!

    Reply
  73. How did you pull these thoughts out of my mind? These are all my thoughts exactly and I loved it!

    Reply
  74. My friend and I were just discussing this the other day. She sent me a picture of her grandma’s handwritten apple pie recipe and it was so beautifully written. I teach as my day job, when I’m not pretending to be a freelance writer/novelist, and students, can’t read or write cursive.

    Reply
    • Now that is a treasure, for your friend to have a copy of her gran’s handwriting, and also to have that recipe. I’m always asking my mum and gran to teach us some of their favourite recipes, but it seems to be customary in our family for the cooking process to be a secret and for everyone to be chased out of the kitchen so the cook can work their magic in peace :).

      The loss of handwriting seems to be widespread. I remember visiting Freiburg in Germany 7/8 years ago, and it took real concentration to read the street signs there as the script is so elaborate. I imagine young people today would be completely lost there. Thanks for your comment

      Reply
  75. You hit so many points and thoughts that I have had.

    As a child in school, I was actually graded on my penmanship (I still have a love for fountain pens). I actually wince a little when I see today’s children holding a pencil or pen with their fist. Like you, as I got older, my handwriting turned into illegible scrawl that even **I** can not read once a day or even a few hours have passed.

    I write (in longhand) each morning as a means of freeing my head of all the things running around in there, and hopefully releasing some creativity. Initially I found that I spent a great deal of time trying to recapture good penmanship. My hand just could not keep up with my thoughts. I am slowing down and my penmanship is getting better but more importantly, my ideas and thoughts are more coherent,… and plentiful. BTW, I found an app for my iPad that allows me to write in longhand easily… Not draw… but actually write. It is a wonderful tool. As a result, switching to paper and pen from typing is no longer so startling.

    I love computers and all thing digital and I was involved with them years before most people. There is, however, always a tradeoff. Thank you for reminding us.

    Reply
    • Hiya, your habit of writing in longhand to start each day reminds me of Julia Cameron’s morning pages ritual, which I did for a while. It was really helpful to get the creativity flowing and clearing my head as you say. Cheers for the tip about consciously slowing down. I think that can be important in life across the piece. A good tip too about the iPad app. Thanks very much

      Reply
  76. Nowadays it seems that most people think that they do not have time to write by hand. Yet those daily moments people spend waiting–whether in line at the store, at a traffic light, for an oil change, the last ten minutes of a lunch hour, et cetera–are opportunities for writing notes, making postcards or outlining a letter. …It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. We’re witnessing generational shifts and it seems that we’ve yet to find the balance between tech and not. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Reply
    • Yes, in fact when my children were babies I got much of my writing done in five/ten minute windows between being needed. What an elegant way to express our situation: generational shifts. Thanks for commenting

      Reply
  77. Thank you for this. I write documents on the computer, but I draft pretty much everything by hand. It just doesn’t feel right, and it doesn’t work as well creatively for me, to not do at least part of the process by hand. I appreciate your validation of the joy and usefulness of handwriting.

    Reply
  78. I have a wax seal kit and mounds of lovely stationary. I actually break them out now and again to write letters to relatives and sorority sisters. I’m actually handwriting a journal with letters to my kid. Computer data gets compromised, corrupted, gets lost. I don’t want to risk that.

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  79. Reblogged this on Brian A. Smith and commented:
    A dying art?

    Reply
  80. Reblogged this on Oriana's Postal Network & Blog and commented:
    She get its. :)

    Reply
  81. Reblogged this on Fiction Fish Blog.

    Reply
  82. I completely agree with you in that writers should make it a practice to compose, at least partly, by freehand. I myself do, and even sent handwritten letters to friends all around the world. It’s so exciting finding a letter decked out with washi tape, glitter (or even bursting with confetti) in my mailbox, even if my mail lady hates me because I use several clips to hold my response letters to the front of the letterbox, instead of just one. :)

    Reply
  83. Beautiful. I would definitely share it!

    Reply
  84. I can’t believe that a decline in handwriting things is actually a thing. I honestly, haven’t written something aside from lecture notes now it makes me feel bad because I used to fill my notebooks, now I just have a barely-filled notepad. I need to get back on handwriting, my penmanship is probably uglier than it already is by now. xD

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment. I think you hit the nail on the head. Until now the decline of handwriting has happened by default but now policy makers in some countries are actively making the choice that it’s just not as important.

      Reply
  85. Reblogged this on Mel the Literacy Coach and commented:
    As teachers of literacy – do we impart this passion for writing by hand? I don’t know about you, but many of my students struggle to put pen to paper. Rather than battle with the mechanics of handwriting, I provide them with anything other than pen and paper! I will let them type or draw or even use text to speech technology if it means they will produce something. But perhaps, I’m depriving them of something. Maybe.
    I love writing, I enjoy the tactile sensation of pen to paper. What do you prefer? What types of writing do you offer your students?

    Reply
  86. that was nice! :)

    Reply
  87. Sometimes its just not about writing and venting your feelings down. When some time you are going through an old diary of yours and you find some small greeting cards with something written on it. Even the handwriting reminds you of things that happened and brings a flood of memories… Great post!
    Ruqaiya.

    Reply
  88. I completely agree and love this post – as a journalist, blogger and editor, my three jobs all place me behind a screen and typing endlessly. I miss the days when I would have to write everything out on paper in longhand and when I would practice my calligraphy – now something I don’t even use! I wrote a similar post to this when I first started out blogging – http://wp.me/p3SwKd-ag

    Reply
  89. Great post. Bought back the memories of the good old times when we used to receive greeting cards on our birthdays or any other special occasion instead of text messages or calls from our friends and relatives which was far better and personal experience. I hope in the future we can see more of those days again.

    Reply
  90. Reblogged this on Nerd Fluff and commented:
    I completely agree. This post was great, it made me realize that I was missing handwritten text. Thanks for posting

    Reply
  91. I completely agree. This post was great, it made me realize that I was missing handwritten text. Thanks for posting

    Reply
  92. Loved this post to the core. I often find myself writing in a notebook with different pens that I so often buy. I feel that writing by hand lets you be yourself in more ways than one. The autocorrect and dictionary facilities for one cause a huge distraction. It was wonderful reading your post and I feel it would resonate with anybody who shares a love for writing :)
    While reading it, I decided I might as well ask one of my friends to double up as a pen pal so we can have deep moving conversations through long hand written letters; with that inevitable time gap in between the replies :)

    Reply
  93. Needless to say your exactly right. Only one snag, my pen doesn’t include a spell checker!
    Thanks for a very thought-provoking post.

    Reply
  94. Nor a grammar checker either – it should be you’re instead of ‘your’!

    Reply
  95. This is precisely why I have refused to buy a tablet! I love writing in my notebooks and journals, and I don’t mind feeling prehistoric when I pull out my notebook during a meeting to take notes. Although, I must admit it adds an extra chore, because I have to go home to my laptop to email the minutes I wrote. I feel a purchase will be required soon (to save time), but my need to longhand write will always prevail when time is permitted. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Pleasure. Yes, typing notes directly is a time saver, although I must try some dictation software as that could help. I loved your decryption of feeling prehistoric! Thanks for taking the time to comment, n

      Reply
  96. Most in the West, take modern ‘gadgets’ and even electrical power for granted, but a determined group of terrorists or a belligerent ‘foreign power’ could destroy the whole thing in seconds, with little chance of recovery for years. By the use of an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) device. Don’t neglect your handwriting, it may well be the only form of communication in the future.

    Reply
  97. It’s depressing that so many schools are quitting cursive and handwriting skills. Yes, computers are awesome and typing is faster, but handwriting is just something everyone should know how to do. Great post!

    Reply
  98. Beautifully said…I love handwritten letters…and the joy of receiving one by post.

    Reply
  99. Great article! I always admire my both of my grandma’s elegant cursive! It’s even more impressive that English is one of my grandma’s second language and she writes a lot better than me! I wish handwriting was still as popular but in this tech generation it’s easily lost.

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  100. …reminds me of why I love hand-writing. Something so personal about a hand-written note (: a very heartfelt piece I must say!

    Reply
  101. My Mom did this with an old Olympia manual typewriter…altho’ her script sufficed for shorter notes. My own long hand…never made the grade. I do MISS opening and reading REAL letters! :)

    Reply
    • It’s been years since I used a typewriter. I used to play with one when I was a child, and the slow thud was so satisfying. Less so when the tippex was needed. I was asked on a course once to write a letter to myself about my goals. The lecturer took it away and posted it to me a year later. It was both strange and effective in getting me to focus when I reread it. To me, letters are real, honest, a reflection of a moment in someone’s life. Cheers for commenting and here’s to your next snail mail letter ;)

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  102. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    AN ALMOST FORGOTTEN ART—BUT MINE WERE BARELY READABLE—ASK MY WIFE!!!!

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  103. I enjoyed reading your post. Here in Ontario our schools are no longer teaching writing skills, only printing. It’s sad to think that future generations will lose the art of penmanship. Will they print their signature or sign with an X?

    Reply
    • Thanks very much. I’m based in the UK and hadn’t realised the developments regarding printing your way until the comments on this post started coming through. How very sad. I hope not, n

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  104. I too am no technophobe, but there is just something so satisfying about the flow of ink across a page. I could easily spend gobs of time and money in pursuit of the perfect pen and journal!

    Reply
  105. Enjoyed your article! As a third grade teacher, I’m blessed with the task of teaching cursive handwriting to students. Unfortunately in the test culture that permeates the school system, many teachers have abandoned the practice altogether because it’s not a “tested” skill. I do think it’s important, but increasingly becoming less so, as our society moves toward on-line forms, etc.

    I agree with the blogger who stated that you can see a person’s personality in their handwriting, which is another reason I value cards, and handwritten letters.

    Reply
    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’d love for tests to be scaled back and for teachers to have more autonomy in the classroom. One day perhaps… These comments have definitely prompted me to learn more about the aesthetics of handwriting and what it reveals about us all.

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  106. Reblogged this on brocsilva and commented:
    Hi, I write all my novels longhand and for the reasons you quote. I write at the speed I think although sometimes I get on one and I can’t quite get it down quick enough but those moments are rare. My handwriting is lovely, I love everything about the feel of the pen, the sound, the way I swirl my D’s and curl my G’s and Y’s.
    I grew up in the 70’s, taught myself to type and tried to move to iPad last year but after a mishap where I lost 40,000 words (safe, luckily) I’ve returned to writing for first drafts.
    It makes the first draft to type an easier process, concise but I still over-edit and rewrite. I complain but I love it and recommend the gel pen and a good quality paper. And my birthday cards are cute, scripted.
    Regards, Broc.

    Reply
    • Hi Broc, thanks for commenting and reblogging the post. It made me smile to read about how you swirl your letters. I could really imagine it. Your heart must have plummeted when you thought you’d lost that much work. I’ve been there and so glad you managed to recover it. As you say, even handwriting drafts isn’t perfect, but I like the hybrid process you have. Good luck with your current manuscript, n

      Reply
  107. This is a great post. I, too, have noticed that my handwriting, which I once was so proud of (thank you to my strict-ruler-tapping grade six teacher), is just not as nice. The lovely slant and fluidity are gone. I used to journal, I used to write all of my poetry with pencil and paper. The transition to computer was difficult the, but now going back seems impossible.
    Great post.. made me think a lot.

    Reply
    • Love the image of your grade six teacher. Yes, it does seem inconceivable about going back to a time without computers (and Google searches) but sometimes, I’d like to forget for one second that I should back up my files and my photos again. A simple piece of paper and pen is freeing in so many ways. Thanks for taking the time to comment, appreciate it.

      Reply
      • It was my pleasure, I so enjoyed the uniqueness of the articles and what it made me realize about myself.

        Have a great day,
        Ester

  108. I love writing, sometimes I find myself writing on actual crisp white paper and pen.

    Reply
  109. My middle finger reminds me daily of the years I spent writing longhand before computers existed.

    I never seemed to get cursive perfect like my mother and grandmother, but it was legible and carried my personal energy.

    On those rare occasions when something within me stirs me, I began writing then somewhere along the line “I” disappear, and I find pages and pages written by something I can’t explain.

    Thank you for this beautiful post and reminder to pull out my pads.

    Reply
    • You’ve articulated that so beautifully: ‘cursive […] carried my personal energy.’ Yes. I wonder if that phrase seems odd to school kids today but to me it makes perfect sense. Reading your comment makes me want to reach for my notebook and fountain pen right now, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Thanks

      Reply
  110. Oh, how I adore every bit of this post. “Will there ever come a day when it is an advantage on CVs not to boast of typing prowess but to proclaim the beauty of our handwriting?” It is, indeed, a dying art. As a teacher, I have noticed that although most children and teens default to technology, many are more easily able to express themselves clearly and creatively when writing by hand, though they are loathe to admit it.

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  111. Great post.

    I find it difficult to write creatively with a keyboard. I can touch-type pretty quickly, but my ideas tend not to flow as fast and I find myself pausing for longer. Handwriting is usually just the right tempo for my mind to express itself and maintain a nice flow. Transcribing a load of written work onto the computer is often the first read-through, where I pick out mistakes and irregularities.

    Sometimes I find I’ve crossed out a gem because it didn’t quite fit where I wrote it and it may have been completely forgotten had I not been able to read what I had redacted.

    It’s also easier to arrange scraps of paper with a multitude of ideas in view than it is on a computer.

    I spend too much time in front of a computer screen. Writing is my break away from the world; a time to allow my mind to wander free and be expressive.

    Reply
    • I’m much the same. My stories flow better when I am writing in longhand, although I don’t do it nearly often enough. But I think you’re right. The need to then transcribe can be seen as a disadvantage but it’s actually a plus for the editing process. I’ve tried to find software for that scrapbook feel, and Scrivener does a good job on its cork board, but it’s just not the same as having physical scraps of paper. Perhaps ridiculous, but I’ve often wondered whether we will end up having different shaped fingers because of the amount of electronics we are constantly playing with nowadays… Cheers for commenting, n

      Reply
  112. I wrote to my Grandmother in longhand until she complained about the quality of my writing. She joked she used the Rosetta Stone to interpret my scrawl. I turned to keyboards, but always signed off with a written note. Now, I write to my daughter, but how I wish I could write well enough to read. Will she treasure the letters? Who knows? Would she treasure them more if the characteristics and doodles while writing bring more of me to the page? Probably.

    A great post. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thank you for taking the time to post such a thoughtful comment. Handwriting is in many ways like a foreign language. Once you decipher the quirks of someone’s lettering, it gets easier and easier to read them fluidly. I think your daughter will be like that with your letters, and I am sure she will treasure them more for their individuality in that way. You’ve inspired me to write and save some for my children too, for when they are old enough to understand them properly. What a gift that would be.

      Reply
  113. […] THE FORGOTTEN JOYS OF LONGHAND WRITING. […]

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  114. with all the things going techy, I really long for traditional mails,where I get to see a mail stamp at the back of an envelope,and to smell the scent of wherever the letter came from.oh how i wish i had someone to exchange letters with.

    Reply
    • No one has yet mentioned the scent of letters and the interest with with you look at stamps from afar. I remember trying to copy the glamour of days past and spritzing a letter I wrote my first boyfriend with cheap perfume. We should all try to write an unexpected letter this month and see what it brings us. Thanks for taking the time to comment, n

      Reply
  115. I absolutely love this! I too think hand writing is a beautiful craft and a dying one at that. But I think that we should keep trying to encourage, especially children to write by hand with the current boom of technology. It is truly a shame that such a common practice is slowly diminishing before our eyes. Personally I prefer to write by hand. I like to scribble my ideas onto a note pad, create mind maps and from that expand my writing I think my brain has more creative ideas that way as silly as that may sound.
    Such a lovely post :)

    Reply
    • Thank you and for taking the time to comment. That doesn’t sound silly at all. I use mind maps too. Fingers crossed the young today keep it up, even if it’s by using a stylus, n

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  116. A gorgeous post, thanks. I absolutely encourage students, in order to help themselves remember information, as well as transcribing straight onto the computer, in linear fashion for an easier read, to write down what they are attempting to remember. More and more it seems to me that ‘for efficient tick boxery’ we are short-changing and eliminating creativity and imagination. Left and right brain are meant to work together, but we are focusing on the blandly denatured, impersonal, soul-less.

    I am ABSOLUTELY aware that I think in a different way when I type and when I write, and that the imprint of my (or anyone else’s) individual emotional state and its energy on a page of handwriting reveals more of the person to the writer – and the reader. When I write by hand, what I write is more anarchic, sometimes much more off at a tangent – but also more creative, more open to the possible byways, abandoned ideas etc – which may then offer other fruitful avenues for exploration. As you said the immediate ability to edit out errors on the keyboard, instantly closes down the possibility of those other fruitful explorations to be engaged in later, as one forgets what the error, the not quite precise enough phrase was.

    As for text, selfies and the like – the instant nature of it all tends to empty superficiality. Sure, its instantly useful, but abysmally impersonal. Corporate, jargon, babble, a sugar hit, but no flavour, no sustenance, nothing to treasure

    Reply
    • Wonderfully articulated: ‘More and more it seems to me that ‘for efficient tick boxery’ we are short-changing and eliminating creativity and imagination.’ Yes! Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I completely agree and you’ve expressed it so beautifully. Great metaphor about the sugar hit but no sustenance. That’s often the feeling I have too.

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  117. […] terms of the number of readers it reached, my post on The Joys of Longhand Writing has been my most successful piece of writing yet. I’m very lucky that WordPress Editor and Story […]

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  118. My 9 year old gets a little irritated with me when I push her to take her time to write slowly and correctly. Although, secretly she loves it because its fun, except for long sentences as she puts it. I think its so important and I am with you, it’s truly sad this is becoming lost in the school system for a learning lesson. To me if your going to put the words down take the time to write it well, whether typed or hand written, because after all it’s a reflection of you no matter how big or small.

    Reply
    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Cassie. My daughter is nearly 5 and she finds reading long sentences overwhelming too. She’s at the stage where she can form letters, but prefers to pretend write – say squiggles on a notepad when pretending to take a food order. Handwriting plays such a role in imaginative play, but you’re right, it’s written expression that counts, however it’s done.

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  119. Hand writing doesn’t need a charger in a cafe or simply stop working in the airport… I write all my notes by hand

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  120. there is a certain freedom in handwriting. enjoyed your post.

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  121. Reblogged this on From my mind onto the page and commented:
    So I came across this little gem and I found it fascinating. I can’t wait to find other authors
    Ike this one.

    Reply
  122. Hey, thank you for the interesting read. I’m an avid reader and very new to WordPress and blogging in general. I hope to come across other articles as articulate as this one.
    Cheers

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  123. Well-written! :) I saw this on Freshly Pressed and came over because I wrote a similar post about the joy of hand-written letters; my friend and I had to actually agree to not Whatsapp each other about having sent or received letters to preserve the “authenticity” of letter-writing. ;) Since I don’t keep a diary or write anything other than my blog posts, I don’t have much of an opportunity to write by hand (other than the letters); the least I can do now is maintain a paper-and-pen planner, as opposed to jotting everything down on my phone.

    Reply
    • Thank you. I must check out your post too. And that takes discipline! I used to have a yearly ritual until about two years ago to find the perfect diary/planner, and it was such a joy to do it by hand. Then I got the Galaxy Note, and succumbed to using the electronic planner. It’s efficient yes, but not as charming. Thanks for commenting, n

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  124. Great post. Something else that has virtually disappeared these days are post cards. We used to receive them all the time from vacationing friends and relatives. Who needs them when you can just snap that picture of the Grand Canyon with your cell phone and zap it out to everyone on your Facebook wall.

    I too lament the decline in popularity of longhand writing (although severe arthritis in my hands now prevents me from writing little more than my name on a check, so I pretty much type everything). In cleaning out some file drawers in my home office the other day, I came across a Christmas card that my grandmother sent to us in 1990. My grandmother died the next year, so it was one of the last pieces of correspondence that I have of hers, and I am so glad that I saved it. She enclosed quite a lengthy letter in the card, and I sat down and read it start to finish, and I could almost hear her voice as I read. I hope the kids of today will have such treasures to stumble across.

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    • Thank you. You’re the first person to mention postcards, but yes, they were a joy to receive and I rarely receive one now, although I do see that tourist shops still stock them. I remember spending ages choosing exactly the right postcard when I was younger, and buying some for myself as mementos and bookmarks. Nowadays images are rarely converted from their digital form, and I wonder in later years if we will bother going through hard drives to view them. Sometimes we are so busy capturing images that we forget to live in the moment. What a gift that card and letter from your grandmother is. Some commentators have mentioned how handwritten script reveals the personality and energy of the writer. It’s wonderful to preserve that for when we miss loved ones. Thanks for your comment, n

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  125. Thank you for this enjoyable post. I work for a publishing house where I was, mindlessly, stuffing translucent envelopes while I read your post. It is always a blessing, in this regard, to see how one’s interest can transform itself into a serendipity of sorts. Especially, as I was primarily seeking info on blogging and WordPress in my initial quest for online information! Now, it is time to find myself a brand new journal soon. :)

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  126. Hi, Nillu! I spotted this piece of yours on FP today, and it inspired my post today at fionakernaghan.com Thanks! I gave you a shout and linked back to your blog, too! :))

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  127. Your post had been a complete delight for me to read!! I truly love to write long-hand; there’s kind of magic to it, I believe. I am both a voracious journaler as well as a note-taker. For about 30 years, I’ve kept a journal; sadly, there is now no evidence of them (a long story of itself, there). To keep from falling asleep in listening to my pastor drone on in his sermons, as a young girl, I toke notes–which I continue to this day! Now, in my mid-fifties, I’m endeavoring to handwrite a novel along with inputting all of it within my tablet. Most days, I have fairly nice looking handwriting; I had an example to follow–my mother, she had THE loveliest writing!! At this point I’m unsure if I still own any of her letters. Again, thank you so very much for thoughtful and well-written post. All the best to you, Nilly.

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    • Thanks for such a lovely comment, and don’t worry at all about misspelling my name. Made me laugh…Nilly rhymes with something unfortunate! That’s wonderful you use longhand often, and I am so sorry you seem to have lost your journals. Good luck with your novel, and what a find it would be to uncover some of your mum’s letters. Hope you come across them, n

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  128. Oooooppppsss!, I am very sorry; I misspelled your name, Nilly!!

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  129. Again, my apologies– my keyboard doesn’t want acknowledge your name!!

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  130. Write a letter is something more than a a simply message! You have to think over and over about what are you going to write in order to summon up everything you have done, emotions you felt… It’s more complicated but at the same time there ‘s a sensation before and after the sending that’s wonderful! And in addition there’s the moments, days months or maybe years that you have to wait and someone says that this is the best moment. I don’t think that now this kid of communication is impossible bit it’s more difficult due to the media faster and faster.

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  131. fantastic and timely post! thank you for this gift and awesome reminder. Use to be I wrote three, four, or more page letters with at least two of my MALE friends… know what? I miss it terribly!

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  132. I really enjoyed your post. When I was in graduate school, all of my research papers started long hand, which helps me to concentrate. I also read an article recently that you might find interesting: http://www.wired.com/2014/05/reading-on-screen-versus-paper/. I think the same applies to writing – for some people, the feeling of the pen against the paper may aid in concentration and memory. I know that I need a pen with the correct weight and certain types of paper are more enjoyable to write on. Writing has always helped me retain information better and has also helped me to concentrate better when I’m writing. Also, long hand gives one more freedom when writing. It’s not necessary to print something off when you want to edit.

    Just food for thought. :) Again, thanks for the post. :)

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    • Thanks for the commenting and for the article link. Fascinating how he talks about the fact that his ability to retain for information from paper could be because his ‘late-thirty-something brain isn’t that of a true digital native, accustomed to screens since infancy’. Also, how the article talks about the physicality of paper and the ‘conceptual scaffold’, how the brain is more likely to recall the text on paper due to positioning and how our fingers relate to the page. And yes, you’re right, certain types of paper are more enjoyable to write on. Sensuous, somehow. Cheers for the food for thought, n

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  133. Hi Nillu, Thanks for posting this. It is refreshing to see so many people who love letters (or just writing) and believe that it would be sad to see the tradition slowly disappear…

    BUT… it doesn’t have to! :) We can keep it alive. Why not use new technology to help us do this? I use Postcrossing (www.postcrossing.com) to send and receive postcards from people all over the world. It’s wonderful! My mailbox used to be filled with bills but now it’s flooded with friendly greetings from incredible pen pals!

    At the end of the day it’s our choice whether or not we preserve the joys of handwriting. Choose to write a thank you card or a simple note to someone. You’ll make their day :)

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  134. In total agreement with you; the one thing I miss the most, is opening the mailbox and getting the perfumed scented letter from a love one who is far away and wishes to be together. Even in emails today, letters are brief and are often just basically text messages sent to an email account. how sad is it that with all this technology that is bringing us together, it seems to make our communication a lot less intimate every day.

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  135. Well said. I totally agree.

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  136. I loved your post and I agree with you; authors and writers should continue to write in long hand.

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  137. “And there’s nothing like sitting on a park bench in your lunch break with a notebook on your lap, as you let the world fade into the background and disappear…”
    I loved this post. I too feel concerned about the kind of future our children will have if they (the educators) take longhand writing out of the classroom. I still write and send cards to friends and family. I also still write by longhand in a journal. And the most precious items I own are letters from my Grandmother, mother and little notes from my children. I have several letters that are 40 years old. Thanks for reminding us of the joys-lets hope we never forget.

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    • Thank you. I worry that some educators would like to continue with more creative work all round but they are compelled to put their efforts elsewhere due to test oriented schooling and lack of time. Your journals, the cards you send and letters you’ve kept are such treasures. Thanks for your comment, n

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  138. need to teach grandchildren to write longhand

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  139. Before I can design or write anything, whether personal or for work, I need to put the effort of writing by pen or using a pencil to sketch out a workflow idea. There is something about holding a pen and letting it be a connector between your creative brain and the end-product. Depending on my mood, I may be picky about how clean or legible my writing is. Other times, I’m just glad to be writing and enjoying the process of getting an idea out of my brain and if my handwriting is atrocious, so be it.
    Thank you for pointing out the beauty, and importance of handwriting. I plan on keeping my handwriting alive and will work on letting youth know the beauty of it too.

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    • Thanks for your comment – so beautifully expressed. Yes, I too swing between a scrawl I can read and the need to be neat. It’s great to hear so many other people find handwriting as important as I do, n

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  140. Reblogged this on Super Saenz.

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  141. I find the comparison between writing (by hand) and typing similar to driving versus walking. When you write your piece, or hike up a hill, you feel like you earned that view (be it cast in ink or spread across the horizon in front of you).

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    • That’s a great parallel. I’m much more present when I walk somewhere. In many ways, driving is so familiar now it’s almost automated. You focus on the cars and road signs, and barely notice the environment you are driving through beyond that. Thanks for the comment, n

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  142. Enjoyed reading your post! It really made me think over the joys of handwriting! I too had a good handwriting when in school but it progressed to become more dull and uninteresting in the growing years. I hope to fancy writing more to develop the habit of handwriting more in the future!

    :)

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  143. I have this conversation with my husband often. He insists handwriting is not an essential skill anymore–eventually people will only need to sign their names, he says. I tell him, what about the *art* involved in handwriting? The hand-eye coordination? Being able to look over pages and pages of neatly written writing just thrills me. I have always noticed people’s handwriting.

    My Mom taught me to write in the D’Nealian style before I was in Kindergarten, and then they switched over to something else. I have always admired and tried to adopt features of people’s handwriting that I found appealing.

    The neatest, most beautifully written handwriting I’ve ever seen has been done by two people: one, my aunt, who has small yet elegant script. The other was when I worked in a bank, and a customer turned in an application for a loan. She was a very polite Japanese American student and I was just like..your handwriting is gorgeous. She looked a little weirded out, but hey. :)

    I am teaching my daughter cursive. My son still knows how to write and read in cursive as well. He used to be complimented on the neatness of his writing, before he got to high school and started scrawling everything. My daughter’s teacher still comments on hers. Mine is a mix of cursive and printing, but it is very unique to me–it definitely shows part of who I am. I cannot imagine a life without journals and notepads and stationary.

    I too, miss writing and receiving letters. It’s a shame that both handwriting and letter writing seem to have fallen permanently out of fashion. I miss it.

    Great post!

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    • What a thoughtful comment. Thank you. I think you’re husband is right. That is the way it’s going. But technology is reliant on power and can be corrupted. Like you say with the creative elements, coordination, role in remembering and its beauty, hopefully there will still always be room for it alongside technology.

      I love your description of your writing. It’s another part of how we express ourselves, like how we dress or speak. Cheers for reading, n

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  144. You’ve really touched a nerve with me. You’ve put to words concerns I’ve had for too long. It is so true that hand writing, doodles and jotting notes in a notebook activates the creative side of the brain. I have written ideas all over the place, often with a little ‘graphic’ image to enable to grasp a short hand understanding of what I’m working on. Thankfully I learned to touch type (correctly) many years ago which I’m pleased with because I have much I want to say in my blog etc. But I love nothing more than pick up my note book and write….
    Great Post Silvia.

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    • Thank you. I’d not realised until these comments how many people include symbols and graphics when they write by hand as memory aids. Thanks for taking the time to comment, n

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  145. Delightful. My hand hurts when I hold and my handwriting has become a awkward scribble. I thought I was the only person who was concerned about this. Email – my finger on hovering over the delete key while I read.

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  146. Reblogged this on aerychtest and commented:
    Reblogging to my blog…

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  147. Thank you for the reminder! You are absolutely right…I too miss handwriting and shall start doing so more often :)

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  148. I still find that for brainstorming writing on a keyboard is most efficient for me. But my to do lists end up being more useful on paper and I’ve made a personal commitment to keeping the U.S. Postal Service afloat. I love both writing and receiving personal mail.

    Reply
    • Stamps have become so dear in the UK and there are fewer Post Offices, but yes, I’m with you. It’s all about working out what makes us happy and productive and sticking with it. Cheers for commenting, n

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  149. Thank you for this post. I love hand written letters, and still write them frequently to my friends. I will always teach my kids this amazing art and hope that the tradition lives on.

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  150. Reblogged this on technogranny and commented:
    Perhaps it is because I was trained to handwrite as a child but I still find it easier to get my thoughts down when I use a pencil and a notebook. Handwriting is now a craft skill like sewing,rather than an everyday tool for communication.

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  151. Well written! I always wonder what will happen to pen and paper since computers and gadgets taking over our world. It’s a shame how schools work these days. Using tablets isn’t helping our kids. The brains are being spoiled, the hands are getting lazy… Nice to hear there are still people who love to write!

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  152. Wow! I love sharing a glimpse into your creative perspective!

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  153. loved this read…i too long to write….with pen these days….

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  154. Work in longhand is fine if you have neat writing and don’t suffer from arthritic fingers. I can no longer write legibly. Computers have been a godsend to me and I suspect to many other oldies. Not just that it is easier to write onscreen and edit as a I go along, I also have a copy of what I have written – I can remember working in an office and making 3 carbon copies of every letter – what a chore!
    Hand written letters have also to be stamped and taken to the post box. Out nearest post box is half a mile away. Nowadays only birthday cards for my grandchildren get to snailmail treatment.

    Reply
    • Computers are a fantastic for the reasons you state, kinder to the fingers, for convenience, the cost of stamps, saving time. I couldn’t imagine my life without them anymore, but I also can’t imagine not being able to write by hand, and it seems to be heading that way especially in the US and Canada. The image of making carbon copies made me smile. Thanks for reminding me to stroke my Mac even more at night ;)

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  155. Interesting! Indeed, we are hopeful it won’t become Latin of tomorrow. Funny, but with all the gadgets of today, I still write on paper. I discovered that writing on my devices tend to be a bit haughty. The screen’s brightness, temptation to abbreviate, the “weight” of the device, the screen’s size (either too small or too big) and so forth. They just want to make me finish quickly or procrastinate. I had many unfinished writings. I realised people had more fun reading straight from my notes. Yeah, labour of love. I write my heart out better that way.

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  156. Reblogged this on mayorityz's Blog and commented:
    Interesting write…

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  157. I love writings by hand as well as by computer. I think they definitely serve different purposes, and both should to be used.
    I am a college student, but still love journaling and sending snail mail to high school friends. I must confess, though, that I sometimes do these things on a computer! About half the time, I will journal by hand and the other half I will do so in a word processor and then print it out, cut it, and tape it into my diary. My reason for doing so is, as you mentioned, that I can type much faster than I can write by hand. So journaling at a computer allows for a more effective “stream of consciousness” sort of process for me. It provides me with a more honest, less edited journal entry, which in some cases allows me to better understand what I am thinking and feeling.

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    • Hiya, yes I think they both have a place, and in the end it’s the content that matters most, rather than the means with which we do it. Sounds like you have a good balance of handwriting and typing, and have found what works for you. Thanks so much for your comment

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  158. I am one who prefers to write long hand, it just feels more personal , more organic to me!

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  159. Nillu, I’m so excited to have discovered your blog through Freshly Pressed. Your writing is a treasure that I can’t wait to sift through further.

    I was attracted to your Freshly Pressed post when I saw it was about longhand writing. I am rediscovering longhand writing in my own life as well, and it’s helping me reconnect with my creative childhood self, both in my writing proper and in other areas, such as letter writing.

    I actually just wrote a post called “Reviving Letter Writing” the other day; if you’re interested to check it out, here’s the link: http://abringerofnewthings.com/2014/05/05/reviving-letter-writing/

    Best wishes!

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    • Thanks Sarrah, that’s so lovely to hear. I love how you say longhand is helping you to reconnect with your creative childhood self. Thanks for commenting. I’ll hop over to your blog right away, n

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  160. This same topic of the lost skill of handwriting came up last night at a meetup I attended. Michael and I both commented that our handwriting had deteriorated through lack of use.

    It’s interesting when I type the number of errors I make. Sometimes starting to write one word and finishing it with the end of another, with words missing in between.

    Hand writing focuses me more.

    Even when writing on a Mothers Day card to Mum I had to struggle to make the writing legible. But she does not notice, she is more embraced by the sentiment attached to the card.

    Plenty of “food for thought” in your article and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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    • Thanks for this thoughtful comment. You’re right, it’s the sentiment, the content that matters most. I find it churlish to comment that someone’s handwriting is poor. Even so I took pride in mine when it was beautiful. Still, pride’s not necessarily a good thing ;) Thanks for reading, n

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  161. I recently discovered how high-quality, line-less notebooks can satisfy my desire for longhand writing. :)

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  162. I love your sentence “Writing is a solitary activity, and walking away from the computer is to abandon the notion we are constantly available to everyone.” I was just thinking about this yesterday when I sat down to write/type but found myself immediately logging in to social media and email almost simultaneously. It’s amazing how we think we have control over these screen machines yet they often end up having control over us. Our actions and habits often become programmed by programs unless we take a step back to turn it off, choosing instead to face paper and pen, another person, or life around us…Anyway, great post and I look forward to reading more!

    Reply
    • What a thoughtful comment. Yes, it’s involuntary isn’t it, the checking of email and social media. You are distracted before you even know it. Great point about the control and needing to take a step back and face life itself. I completely agree. Thanks very much for reading, n

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  163. Reading this reminded me of my younger days, when I insisted to everyone that writing with a #2 pencil was the best way for me to get inspired. Nowadays, I do everything electronically. I think I’ll try the old fashioned way more. Thanks for this.

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  164. The Almighty too wrote on the Tablet……

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  165. I completely agree with you , the pleasure of reading a handwritten letter is far more than reading an email. The joys of letter writing can never be replaced by an email

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  166. ur blog is fantastic…!!
    i juss started writing..need ur views as it will boost my writing zeal..:)
    i hope u will pay a visit :)
    http://myfreshhopes.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/so-now-that-you-are-ruined-how-do-you-help-you/

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  167. I was thinking similar things just last week. So decided to write and send my grandparents a letter and began hand writing a journal about my student nurse experience. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this

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  168. The sixteen year old son of a friend not only cannot write cursive, he can’t read it. It’s tragic. I’ve had to wade through historic documents and decipher cursive chicken scratch to retrieve some truly fantastic tidbits of historic information. I am able to do this because I have to, at times, decipher my own writing. I have horrible handwriting (it’s been described as “Elvish” — nice to look at, horrible to read). I sense that the ability to read cursive handwriting will become a niche skill!

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  169. You have just encouraged me to write a letter to a good friend instead of shooting her an email. Thank you! x

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  170. Reblogged this on With A Quill & Ink and commented:
    I too long for the power of handwritten letters and the personal essence of them.

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  171. I too long for the power of handwritten letters and the personal essence of them. I have reblogged this.

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  172. Nothing beats the scratchy nib of a vintage pen. I sigh for those who follow, who won’t know the feeling of opening an old love letter….

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  173. Wow, what a beautiful post ! The other aspect of it is the joy of receiving a hand-written letter or a postcard. I wonder if anybody sends postcards nowadays even as souvenirs of places visited (remember the ones with nice photos on one side ?) !

    I take this opportunity to invite you to visit my blog at http://idlesunday.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/approximate-life/ and my other posts there. Would love to get your feedback on the same.

    Thanks !

    Reply
  174. I completely agree with you. A blank paper and pen can definitely invoke more thoughts and emotions than a screen and keyboard ever can. I used to write letters as a kid to my old friends, since my dad had a job in which we had to shift a lot. I don’t even remember how and when did all that stop . It always feels better to read a handwritten letter from an old friend than a Facebook message or an email. They are so much more personal and meaningful than their electronic versions. I don’t know if i am going to receive any but i am definitely sending out a couple of letters soon :)
    Great post.
    I am glad i came across this. Thank You

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    • Thanks very much for your comment. Bitter sweet image of you writing to your friends while travelling with your dad. Words can anchor us and the letters must have felt like you were receiving a bit of home. Thanks for reading, n

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  175. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I have a sort of pride and love for my handwriting because I took so much time when I was younger to perfect the script letters, making sure they moved together in a nice straight line. I used to keep a journal and I have notebooks and notebooks of them from when I was a child and into my early teenage years. I could sit with my notebook for up to two hours just writing away about my days and thoughts as if there’s no tomorrow. And I feel that you are so right when you say that you take what you write into more consideration when writing longhand. It’s so much more permanent and you don’t want to mess up the beauty of the page that you’ve already created. Oh, how I hated having to cross something out because of a mere spelling or grammatical error. But it’s true that we have moved into a technological age of typing and touch screens. I’ll admit that I’ve been struggling the last few years to find the perfect stylus and app on my tablet to give me the satisfaction of writing in script on my electronic device. I finally settled on buying a drawing tablet specifically for graphic design, which isn’t a bad thing because as an artist I do draw. However, it still isn’t the same as feeling your pen against a page, feeling the progress you make when you have to start a whole new page, and being able to physically hold your work up in front of you satisfied with all the work that you’ve done. To this day I love to pick up a notebook (one of many) and curl up in a chair to just write whatever comes to mind. I used to write creatively in high school but as the years went by my creativity and even how eloquently I used to speak, were drained. And this isn’t too say I haven’t embraced technology. Like you, I like to have a clean workspace and be organized. But whenever I get the chance to, I write in longhand. And when people see it, I realized that longhand has almost become a novelty. It broke my heart when I found out that it is no longer required to be taught in elementary schools here in NY. There’s just a fulfillment there that cannot be substituted with a stylus or keyboard. Thank you for that post, I loved it.

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    • I remember that feeling of not wanting to cross things out, or painstakingly using tippex to amend the pages. I’m much better at having a messy written draft nowadays. It helps me follow my own thought process. If you find the right stylus then let me know. I imagine there will be huge leaps over the next few years in that area. Cheers for reading and for your thoughtful, eloquent comment :)

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  176. Reblogged this on Craig The Photoguy and commented:
    I know this article is not about photography, but art is art. As someone who used to not only write letters by hand, but also used a fountain pen, I thought this was a lovely post and I too feel the loss of the handwritten letter. Saying that though, I used to draw too, and I haven’t had the time for that in fifteen years!

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  177. That was an absolutely brilliant read. Reminded me of days when I used to exchange post-cards with my grandfather. Loved reading the post.

    P.S. : I have just started a blog of my own and the very first post was on the superhero of the planet : Moms. It would be great if you have a look on it.
    http://krayush.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/you-are-changing-the-world-one-little-heartbeat-at-a-time/

    Reply
  178. Where I am, schools no longer teach cursive writing. Ironically as a child I remember older kids telling me I wouldn’t need to know it for high school, and wondering why we were learning it in the first place. Honestly I was never fond of cursive writing, but I took on a some capital/some lowercase/some cursive/some print physical writing style (each letter has its own personality and story, it seems), and that I did enjoy very much. I used to spend countless hours scribbling on whatever piece of paper was closest, I became terrified I would get carpel tunnel. Now my signature is simply scribbles.

    When I first decided my goal was to write a novel, I wrote pieces and drafts only in journals and notebooks. I used to tell everyone that if and when it was ever published, I wanted it to be published how I wrote it, not perfectly computerized. Since then I’ve come to type more than write, and have developed a love for certain fonts (my blog theme was chosen because of the font, actually). Since I started typing more and physically writing less, now I can only accomplish about a quarter of what I used to before my hands start aching.

    I will say, in reference to your email situation, I have made separate emails for separate things. One is solely for my blog. Another is solely for important information — personal emails, emergency school alerts, etc. And the last is for everything else, all of the “spam” that I still want to get (coupons, deals, reminders) but want to check on my own time without something beeping at me. It’s made my life a lot easier now that I don’t have to sort through it all.

    As for the keeping the process of writing and letters alive, two people very close to me are in jail. It’s horrible, but it forces me to physically write them letters often. I could type, but I feel rude typing in response to their handwriting. Most people don’t feel very comfortable doing this, but there are many programs in which you can sign up to be an inmate’s pen-pal, which will help keep your longhand alive.

    Great post, by the way. Sorry my comment is so long — I’m one of those wordy writers, but at least I know it =]

    Reply
    • It made me smile to think you questioned learning writing as a child. What a fantastic idea to have a published non-computerised manuscript – perhaps as a one-off collector’s edition :). I too have split my emails into personal and writing, and that has helped. I do remember being so excited a few years ago opening emails, but how that has changed! It must be a very difficult for you to have loved ones in jail. How sensitive of you to mirror their way of writing. I enjoyed every word of your comment. I expect for them your letters are a lifeline. Cheers for taking the time to comment, n

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  179. Reblogged this on chinthiachia and commented:
    wonderful writing

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  180. Hand writing is definitely something personal which shouldn’t be tossed away – definitely prefer it to sending emails back and forth, however it’s difficult to find reason – other than greetings cards – to take advantage of such a forgotten gem!

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    • Thanks for your comment. I guess the slowness of posted mail and the need to communicate more quickly means that emails just fit into modern life better. I rarely write letters too, but your comment has made me wonder if I should try my hand at a love letter. Dare you to do the same ;)

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  181. Good evening.. Your blog is very nice…

    I m from India n I compose poems can u pls guide me for how to blog n attract others to my poems blog?? As I m totally new to this blogging

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment. I’ve only been blogging a year. My only advice would be to keep writing, post as regularly as possible and enjoy it. The readers will come. If you’re on Twitter the Monday Blogs hashtag is a good way to share your work on a Monday. Happy writing, n

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  182. Reblogged this on dpreetika and commented:
    Beautifully Written and the truth!

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  183. I am happy to know there is someone else out there who thinks that writing longhand can be a pleasure. I still love the feel of my old fashioned fountain pen between my fingers and the way the words flow across the page!
    I like the fact that I can see my first ideas, albeit with a few crossings out and scribbles in the margin, and if someone takes the time to write me an individual letter that I can take out into the sunshine and read with my cup of tea then I am very grateful.
    But i like the speed of the email and its response – a good job there is room for it all in this world!

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  184. I never type directly into my laptop for fear that I lose it. I never throw out scrap paper (and the occasional tissue) till I’m sure all my longhand is on my pc. Its just the principle of writing for me. Pen and paper!

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  185. I write by hand all the first drafts of my stories. I come easier to me then typing and because my laptop is old and I forget to charge it sometimes, it is often more convenient. I forces me to think about my words and I edit later as I type it. Doing that allows me to already have the first and second draft done so it becomes a bit more efficient as well.

    Reply
    • Efficiency and convenience… some would think that that applies more to computers. I’m glad to hear them used with regard to pens. I guess we all have to find the tools which work best for us. Thanks for commenting.

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  186. Hi, I am only 11 but I deeply agree with what you are saying. I love to simply sit and write, it is one of my favourite things and I think moreshould be done to encourage kids to write by hand. Thank you for a wonderful post x

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  187. I’ve recently begun keeping a handwritten journal. It does feel good to dust out the mind’s cobwebs and get to writing again, but after so many years of just typing, sometimes it just hurts to do so.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment. It surprised me also how our fingers have memories, how it can sometimes be awkward to pick up a pen if you haven’t done it for a while. Thanks for reading, n

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  188. Reblogged this on Two and Two and commented:
    And this is why I think a pen pal would be a good idea

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  189. Reblogged this on Modern Nomadic and commented:
    penmanship isn’t dead either…

    Reply
  190. […] later but, who knows?]   As I was one the wordpress reader page, I came upon an post titled The Forgotten Joys of Longhand Writing. I personally have a love for writing in script myself, so I was compelled to read it. I looked […]

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  191. Oh my god! this is so awesome…the last line in you’re article had me teary/joyous/overwhelmed actually. writing, especially scribbling is all the labour of love. We want our work to be perfect. we want it to be precise and that is why we keep going over and over our thoughts – scratching, erasing, overwriting our written words.
    And like you (though I have to admit, am nowhere close to you in your writing ability) I too get obsessed with editing my work as soon as I write it. (often even losing my trail of thoughts…aaahhhh)
    But thank you for such a warm piece…you had me smiling through and through.
    congratulations and well done.

    Reply
    • You’ve been so generous in your praise. Thanks for reading and for leaving such a lovely comment. I’m glad the article appealed to you. I’m lucky this one got so much attention, but it’s not because of my writing. More because I was writing about a topic that resonates with a lot of people. Enjoy your words and thanks again, Nillu

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  192. […] Nillu Nasser Stelter, Fiction & Freelance Writer: The Forgotten Joys of Longhand Writing  […]

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  193. I agree with pretty much everything you say here.

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  194. Thank you for a great post!

    I must confess, I was once with a guy who went to prison, and could only write me letters. I loved it (not him going to jail, but the letters)! When he came out, things just fell apart and I think a big part of it was because his handwritten letters were filled with so much hope and love (than his actual presence, if that makes sense?) Anyways, I find it pretty humorous now. We live and learn.

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it. What a story that is to tell! I guess sometimes it’s easier to be more open when writing things down and to emphasise certain characteristics. There’s definitely a romance to letter writing. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, n.

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  195. Aye aye! There’s always something authentic with handwritten letters. It makes it more personal, and unlike messages via the internet, it actually delivers emotion from the sender to the receiver, and this is coming from an adolescent who can’t live without the internet or Facebook.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment. Good to hear that you don’t need to be a technophobe to appreciate handwritten letters ;). You’re right. Maybe it’s the extra effort required, but yes, I agree that letters convey more emotion. Thanks for reading, much appreciated.

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  196. Finally, someone who agrees. For so many years I wrote things long hand then typed later. I can now go back over my old note books and re-read what my thoughts were, read under the scribble outs, and watch the process of change.
    Yes, typing is quicker and less inclined to induce hand cramps, but unless you save a copy per edit, you lose the changes and the process of ideas.

    As for letter writing, it is so exciting to receive something in the (physical) letter box that isn’t junk mail or a bill. It’s that extra personal touch that someone cared enough to put pen to paper with their own handwriting.

    Sigh.

    Reply
    • Your notebooks are such treasures. It’s much easier to see the progression of your thoughts that way. The problem in keeping old computer document edits is that they always just seem like clutter to me. As if efficiency must always come first. I don’t have the stamina to write lots by hand, but I wonder if that’s just a case of needed to train my fingers again, much like a marathon runner ;). I get weary of junk mail (which we get despite a sticker asking for none) and bills… Cheers for commiserating with me!

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  197. I agree with you on all this! Writing is an art, a joy that must often be practiced. There’s just a vast amount of difference in meaning that is more profound in writing. For me, it makes me feel real again. Like a real human again. I don’t ever want to lose that.

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  198. I love to send handwritten letters. It makes me genuinely happy to do so. To me a handwritten letter in the mail is equivalent to receiving an unexpected gift. I imagine the recipient shuffling through their mail tossing aside envelope after envelope in an attempt to postpone their inevitable and dreadful monthly obligations only to stop upon seeing my letter. Egotistical? Perhaps a tad. I can only hope the recipients derive as much joy from my letters as I do writing them.

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  199. As I finished reading this post, the appropriate thought was “this is beautiful.” Thank you for the this beauty.

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  200. I still keep a hand-written journal in order to pour out my soul. I have tried to read books on a kindle but it isn’t the same as having a book in my hands. I love the way an old book smell, sounds, looks, and feels. Fortunately, I have passed my love of books on to my children and now on to my grand daughter.

    Reply
    • Yes there are sensory rewards when reading a paper book. Although I do love my Kindle for the immediacy of being able to download what I want. I think helping kids discover a love of reading is one of the best gifts we can give them. Thanks for reading

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  201. Reblogged this on Subatomic-Visage: and commented:
    Agree and thank you for this post.

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  202. My handwriting has always been very bad. When I was in school, one of my teachers had me bounce a basketball to improve my hand/eye coordination. The result was I learned how to dribble and my handwriting stayed bad. Still, I had to train myself to write while typing, as my preferred method was to write first, then type.

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  203. Reblogged this on angiebeacher and commented:
    On writing by hand.

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  204. […] – Nillu Nasser Stelter, “The Forgotten Joys of Longhand Writing” […]

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  205. I agree. Things I write by hand and then type up are the scenes I’m most likely to keep in a final draft. There’s more soul in them. One day I might try an entire novel by hand!

    Reply
    • Hi Mariella, thanks for the comment. Sometimes I think it’s the perceived speed of writing on a computer that tempts me away from writing by hand. But like you I find there’s often extra depth to the words I write by hand first. Thanks for reading, Nillu

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  206. Reblogged this on Author Mariella Hunt and commented:
    Things I wrote first on paper are what usually make it to the final draft. This is definitely worth a read!

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  207. […] why I think or feel in certain ways, and strategize what I can do about them. The more I write, especially with pen and paper, the more I feel that the […]

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  208. Aloha Nullu,
    “I get more words out of a keyboard – but I get better words out of a pencil.” I am deeply convinced of that.
    My handwriting is nothing to brag about, but I will. Not only can people read my handwriting – they do read my handwriting. A handwritten page has a power over the reader far beyond that of a printed page. When I want to make certain something is read, I pick up a pencil.
    Nillu, I completely agree with you, handwriting is an important and useful skill.
    A Hui Hou (until next time),
    Wayne

    Reply
  209. Nostalgic… Really… Very well written, Nillu… :-)

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  210. Reblogged this on Tale en Verhale and commented:
    The reason I keep a journal… Nothing like good old handwritten stories.

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  211. […] few weeks ago @raishimi read my article on the disappearing art of handwriting and mentioned that she sometimes includes origami gifts with letters. It was such a wonderful idea, […]

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  212. […] – Nillu Nasser Stelter, “The Forgotten Joys of Longhand Writing” […]

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  213. You hit the nail on the head. I bought a nice ink pen just to get back to the pleasure of writing. And it certainly keeps the brain sharp… the joy of writing and the creative rush seems blunted when one just types.

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  214. A handwritten piece is more treasured and it shows ingenuity of the writer’s soul. I agree with you, ma’am.:)

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  215. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking
    more of your excellent post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!

    Reply
  216. I am just receiving these precious. words that I am lingering on. My feelings are mutual. But something more has disappointed me. As I finished my deepest of feelings in my blot regarding stress. My kindle froze. Of course, it was directed to stress, which I try never to be stressed. But I walked away and read a book. Back on today, I resumed where I left off almost eating my words because we are frozen again. I am afraid to say stress may be in the air unless I find a way to release the reoccurring frozen kindle

    Reply
    • Thanks very much for your comment. I’m so sorry your Kindle keeps freezing on you…that is stressful! Technology is an enabler but can be so frustrating. My laptop broke the other day. It has accompanied me for so long it was a friend. I hear the Kindle support is very good. Perhaps give them a ring? Best wishes, Nillu

      Reply
      • Thanks I did happen to drop my laptop last month
        A friend as well, therefore I have become desperate. I am starting with a newspaper next week. But my tools are like a rejection letter at this point.
        But I will try the kindle support.

  217. This is a good article. I appreciate you taking the time up develop this thought. I used to compose only by hand and then the desire to compose faster brought me to the keyboard. It took me a long time to be able to compose on computer the way I did on paper, but I don’t think it’s impossible to achieve the same direct creativity. As for communication, I use my stationary! Just ask my friends. I’ll let that be my paper trail.
    Abbymorales.com

    Reply
  218. […] busiest day of the 2014 for this blog was May 5 with 793 views, the day my article ‘The Forgotten Joys of Longhand Writing’ was Freshly Pressed. On average though, I tend to get about 20 views a day and that increases […]

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About Nillu Nasser

Writer of literary fiction. Book hoarder, barefoot blogger, tea drinker.

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