Writing by hand – why it’s still so important for everyone

I am the world’s most terrible scribbler.

Writing by hand - why it's still so important for everyone

Are you addicted to scribbling notes?

I hand-write all over everything in my (home) office. I have scribble pads in my living room. Beside my bed. In my bathroom (yes, really.) I write all over those pads during the day and collect up the scraps of paper each morning to see if any of the rantings make sense.

Most don’t, but a few do escape recycling.

But that’s not writing by hand. That’s scrawling by hand. Writing by hand, when it’s done properly, has many more merits than most people these days think.

For example, my favourite hobby of a weekend

Writing. By hand.

Writing by hand - why it's still so important for everyone

Dressage competitions: handwritten comments and scores are much faster than anything digital

Not about writing in the literary or business sense, but about horses: dressage, to be exact.

As a “dressage writer” I sit in a car, or small shack, and take dictation from a judge who watches each horse perform and allocates comments, plus a mark, at each stage of the “dressage test.” I write this down on a sheet of paper to which the judge will add comments.

The sheet gets collected by a runner and taken to the secretary who works out the scores and the ultimate winners, within minutes of receiving the sheets. QED.

And before some one jumps up and says “surely you should be able to achieve this with Blue Tooth – your phone – your tablet – 4G – 5G – digital printers etc. etc … people have tried it. The old fashioned way is much faster (and totally reliable. Handwriting always has a signal…)

“Please may I copy your notes?”

Another example happened a while back when I was at a workshop and the lady next to me, who had arrived a little late, seemed flustered.

Whereas I had just opened my (paper) notebook and had begun taking notes from the speaker, my neighbour fussed as she extracted her IPad from her bag, set it up, turned it on, hitched up the wonderfully fancy keypad upon which she could write notes with a stylus, and finally settled into her seat.

Meanwhile I had been scribbling a few thoughts down in my paper notebook.

“Excuse me,” she murmured, “may I copy your notes please?”

Writing by hand is not just convenient – there’s much more to it

This article is really a continuation of this earlier article of mine, because I feel there really is quite a lot to say about writing by hand: it must not be left to dwindle into the category of “dying art.”

Take, for example, the way our brains process information and retain it – or not – depending on how we input it.

Given that human evolution does not keep up with that of technology, it’s not surprising that even such apparently simple “new” writing techniques as using a keyboard don’t really connect to our brains as well as good old handwriting does.

“Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate,” wrote Gwendolyn Bounds in The Wall Street Journal a few years ago. “The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development.”

“It’s not just children who benefit. Adults studying new symbols, such as Chinese characters, might enhance recognition by writing the characters by hand, researchers say. Some physicians say handwriting could be a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age.”

“Studies suggest there’s real value in learning and maintaining this ancient skill, even as we increasingly communicate electronically via keyboards big and small. Indeed, technology often gets blamed for handwriting’s demise. But in an interesting twist, new software for touch-screen devices, such as the iPad, is starting to reinvigorate the practice.”

Hand written communication is probably the most intimate and important way to say so many things

What about writing when it really matters?

Writing by hand to others, and to yourself, is the ultimate way of showing you care. And you need decent stationery.

How many of us (like me) are closet stationery addicts? Quite a few. I know loads. There’s nothing like the feel of high quality paper or light card, encased in a gorgeously designed and adorned cover, to nauseate us at the thought of scrappy envelopes or mean little electronic screens.

This is where nothing but the best writing will do. Proper stationery inspires us to be on our best cursive behaviour: none of this sloppy scrawl nonsense now, kiddo. This is the five Michelin Star gourmet level of writing.

And do you know what? The very fact of beautiful, high-quality stationery looking and feeling so stunning always inspires me to make sure my writing – both the words themselves and the handwriting – rise to the occasion.

Stationery is all part of the handwriting mystique

This is where you write words you’re going to keep forever, not stuff into your office shredder or vaporise with a delete key.

I’ve still got handmade greeting cards my son created at school, spelling mistakes and all, for Mothers’ Day and birthdays. And he’s 26 now.

There are the cards and notes people sent me when he was born, which I still keep in a box with his baptism photos.

There are handwritten letters from my late mother and grandmother, on that crinkly airmail paper people used way back when. It’s not only a reminder of times past; also it’s a direct contact with the person who wrote it, in this case both long dead. Their hands were on that paper as they wrote. They folded it, put it into an envelope and mailed it.

You couldn’t ever say that about an email.

Is all that going to disappear one day down the robotic, digital world we’re creating?

What do you think? Please share in the Comments…

Disclaimer, sort of…

Writing by hand - why it's still so important for everyone

With a notebook like this, I’d think ALL my ideas are fabulous.

I wrote a different version of this article for my good friend Sarah who runs the delightfully named “Got2Jot” … an online emporium of glorious fashion stationery.

This is not a sponsored post and I know that there are many other online stationery suppliers just as gorgeous!

But I do want personally to recommend Got2Jot … wouldn’t you love a notebook like this one? Mmmmmm…I’d give up my scraps of old envelopes for this any day.