The Art of the Handwritten Word

How much emphasis was placed on handwriting in your school curriculum growing up? For me, that emphasis was very strong in my younger years in elementary school but it slowly died as the years progressed. Sure, I had a class here and there where the teacher still strongly believed in carrying a notebook and writing in it each day (thanks Mr. B!) but for the most part everything was typed.

I remember being so proud of myself in the third grade when I finally mastered the alphabet in cursive (both upper and lower case). I would write my name over and over again just amazed at how pretty it looked on the paper. I felt so powerful being able to write out the words and sentences that came to my head.  I also tried to perfect my penmanship. I tried to be very neat and precise in my writing and doing so earned me better grades on my papers.

And than we started learning how to type on computers. By the 8th grade I had already taken a computer and typing class for four years in a row and all of our school papers had to by typed, not handwritten. Handwritten papers were for rough drafts only, before we typed them up. And than slowly even the handwritten rough drafts disappeared and everything was typed on the computer. There were no rough drafts anymore. And now I find myself only writing down simple notes or thank you’s. Nothing as elaborate as a poem, story or even a letter. All of these things are written on the computer.

And while I love the speed in which the computer lets me get all of my thoughts out, I am sometimes handicapped by that speed. I don’t have the time to stop and think about what I’m writing. The beauty of writing something by hand is not only the beautiful penmanship (which, by the way, is definitely lacking these days!) but the beautiful words and sentences that came to me as I really, truly thought about what I was writing.

The delay in getting thoughts from the brain to the hand to the pen has been cut and now our brains send words and sentences to our hands directly and our hands type everything out as quickly as the thoughts come to our heads. We don’t think before we type. And I think if we still put emphasis on how important it is to hand write a letter or a note instead of type it up we would be doing a lot more thinking about what we’re writing.

So I believe it is really important that we start putting more emphasis and preference towards handwriting instead of using our computers to type up all of our ideas. With this new habit I hope to delve more into the art of the handwritten word. Why is grammar so important? Are the rules we learned in English class really going to help us in the long run? And how will these things make us better writers? What do you think?

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