Shades of Black Ink: The Five Styles of Handwriting
Most people think the world is moving away from handwriting, but it isn't.
Sure—handwriting is slower and messier.
True—you can't really format by hand, and you certainly can't edit.
And yes—it's nice to imagine your life's notes perfectly manicured in the cloud.
But on National Handwriting Day, we're making a stand for pen and paper. There's merit to handwriting that no app, word processor, or program can touch.
So today, here are five ways we all write by hand, and why they're all useful and irreplaceable . . . even if you don't have pretty handwriting.
In short, this is how you write for important people. This is the way you write a note asking (for instance) for money or favors.
This is what you use when you're writing a letter to the King of England like "bye George, we got it." If your handwriting is starting a war, please print neatly.
And if you win the war, continue printing neatly for your Constitution; people are going to be looking at it for a long, long time.
Thus, the first special value of handwriting: historically speaking, handwritten documents are much more interesting than their printed counterparts. That seems true whether you're examining world history or your own history.
This is how you write under normal conditions — neither rushed nor deliberate. This is how you might take notes in class or write in a journal.
You know what's satisfying about normal handwriting? Normal handwriting fills pages. That's how you get to the end of an idea: just writing it out and NOT stopping to edit.
No matter how you write, full pages ALWAYS look better than empty ones. =]
Especially when full, you see that a page full of your writing can only look like you. A thousand other people could write out an identical passage and you could pick out your own in no time.
More to the point: give a thousand people a complex problem and tell them to work it out in a notebook. The solutions will vary endlessly—showing that how you write says a lot about how you think.
How do you "think on paper"? See whether you'd like our classic dot-and-line layout—or whether the Monolith's new dual-line layout might suit you better.
Quick! Grab a pen! Write down this phone number before it's lost!
You know that feeling? That's what comes before chicken scratch.
Or whenever you're jotting down a three-item list.
Or working out some quick mental math.
Or giving yourself a reminder for later.
The cruel irony of chicken scratch is that the most urgent information is likely to be written this way, yet it's the handwriting that's most difficult to read.
It's possible, for example, that many people with messy handwriting are left-handed people in a right-handed world. Either way, a person's chicken scratch is the purest stream-of-consciousness you'll see — sometimes it reads like nonsense later, but that shorthand is someone's brain hurrying to make a point as efficiently as it can.
Cursive is class — in part because it's a dying skill. Not many lament its passing anymore—for one thing, it's not easier to read. For another, it's rarely as pretty in practice as it is in theory.
We just like using fountain pens, really. Can't hold a candle to that!
Special & Doodling
Some people doodle. Some write bubble letters. Some draw arrows or diagrams.
Whatever your talent, it's the cherry on top of your handwriting—so let it be there with your notes, or presiding over them.
Don't forget, too, that some notes are worth sharing. Maybe the ones you write and draw and doodle in your notebook are just for you—but send one to someone else now and again.
If it's a personal touch with your pen, it's a personal touch with your words, too.