This week I watched a well-dressed, articulate co-worker scratch out some notes in her on-trend, black Moleskine with a G2. For all intents and purposes, her set-up rivals any of the pen and paper bloggers out there though she is not a pen geek. When I looked at the writing, I was shocked at how awkward and unrefined her writing was. I didn’t expect her to have text book-perfect handwriting but she is fashionable, intelligent lady and I had always assumed her penmanship would matched her outward appearance. Instead, her writing made me wonder if she was a serial killer.
My handwriting is not as neat as it could be and seeing her writing makes me think I should continue to focus on improving my writing. In this day and age where emails and text messages are the most common means of communication, handwriting can still color your perception. Or worse, could color someone else’s perception about you. I don’t think its a good career move to have handwriting that makes you look dangerous or unbalanced. Unless that’s the look you are going for.
In the September 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living, there was an article title “Is Handwriting Becoming Extinct?” written by Joanne Chen. The article dives more deeply into the psychological, brain development and creative benefits of writing than I would normally expect from a newsstand magazine usually focused on home decor and recipes. It discusses several scientific studies that researched the advantages of writing on cognitive development, memory and comprehension.
What we here all know, that writing helps us think, organize and remember (“I’m writing it down to remember it now”), is clearly a scientifically proven fact, one that we should help to nurture in ourselves and in others. Digital doesn’t solve everything and might be making up even more forgetful.
I would love to share a link to the article but I could not find it on the Martha Stewart web site. Maybe when the October issue is published, they will post the article on their site. In the meantime, the September issue is on newsstands (the article is on page 158) as well as being available from the iTunes newsstand for $3.99. The issue is the How-To edition with lots of organizational tips which might appeal to you as well.
About every few months, someone publishes a story about the death of handwriting or some variation on this theme. Today’s grim reaper is the BBC with a video article about North Carolina Congresswoman Pat Hurley, who is drafting a bill to mandate handwriting be taught in primary school. A professor of linguistics provides counterpoint describing handwriting as “nostalgic”.
The whole video raised my hackles especially because neither camp mentioned the hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills that are developed as a result of writing. Not to mention that handwriting in the joined-up version helps to speed up writing so that students (and later adults) can more quickly capture thoughts and ideas on paper.
On the whole, I think the story was a bit of sensationalist, shoddy journalism and I’m going to be all grr-argh! for the rest of the day as a result.
Today is National Handwriting Day, at least here in the US, though I don’t think too many people celebrate it with as much fanfare and enthusiasm as I do.
The date of January 23 was selected because it is also the birthday of John Hancock, best known for his legible-but-large signature on the US Declaration of Independence. So, in spite of continued cutbacks in funding for teaching handwriting in schools in the US, I still want to recognize the day with much fanfare and ballyhoo.
I went in search of handwritten examples of Handwriting Day enthusiasm and found some fun examples from friends old and new. I also enlisted the help of some of my more talented co-workers.
Actual handwriting from Hallmark lettering artist Sarah Cole
Lloyd Reynold’s recorded twenty 30-minute instructional videos in 1968 and again eight years later in color to demonstrate and instruct on italic calligraphy and handwriting. At the 5-minute mark of the first episode, the demonstrations begin. Its a little slow but its over 8.5 hours of free calligraphy lessons, if its something you are interested in learning.
When is a signature not a signature? According to the Smithsonian, when the President of the United States needs to sign things, he employs an Autopen, a device that reproduces his signature with an actual pen. So, its his signature… but not.
The device is a descendant of a creation used as far back as the Jefferson White House, though Jefferson’s device served quite a different purpose.