In Defense of Handwriting

Today is National Handwriting Day. Normally, I’m not one for all of these obscure “holidays”, but maybe the declining art of handwriting needs a bit of recognition.

More and more schools are dispensing with teaching cursive, and some even question whether or not to spend time on handwriting at all. I have to confess that I am firmly on the side of learning cursive in this particular debate. There are good, practical reasons for learning to write both print and cursive legibly. Rather than re-stating what others have already stated so well, I want to tell you some of the more impractical reasons why I think handwriting is important.

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When I get out my bottle of ink and fill my fountain pen, it’s a messy task. Yet I find pleasure in it. So different from typing, it’s a more personally involved, tactile experience. Of course, typing allows me to write and edit faster and more efficiently, but I started writing by filling notebooks that I kept secreted away in my room. The scratch of pen or pencil across paper will always be a familiar and comforting action for me.

If I’m writing by hand, I tend to consider what I write a bit more. I can’t just highlight text and delete it! My choice of words is different when handwriting, more carefully chosen.

There’s one reason though why I think handwriting is an art that we should always cultivate: Something handwritten by a loved one is a treasure. The photos I have of Mom have become more precious to me since she died. The same is true of anything I have that she wrote. Seeing her handwriting is something special. Something uniquely hers that she left behind. And all of these “I love Mom” notes written in my young children’s scrawling handwriting are a better gift than anything from a store. And truly, is there anything sweeter than a handwritten love letter? A person’s handwriting is unique to them, and it’s lovely to have that little reminder of them. It’s even lovelier to share a bit of your own handwriting with the people you love!

So start a diary, write a letter, or even write a book. Whatever you decide to write, take a moment to savor the act of putting pen to paper.

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