To Handwrite or Not

handwritingHandwriting seems to be a lost art—or maybe I’ve just lost the art of handwriting. Every time I sit down to write out a greeting card, I get discouraged. My handwriting isn’t what it used to be. It’s not nearly as attractive, uniform, or legible as it was decades ago. I often wonder, should I just type out a short greeting and stuff it inside the card? Maybe that would be easier for the recipient to read.

Despite my deteriorating skill at handwriting, though, I know I won’t quit doing it. Handwriting comes in handy on too many occasions. In fact, there are times when handwriting just plain makes more sense than typing. If you ever wonder whether to handwrite or not, here are guidelines for the times it’ll pay off:

When it’s personal. Take it from a writer, there’s nothing like receiving a handwritten note to make you feel special. A typed rejection from an editor takes on a whole new meaning when there’s a handwritten message to you adorning the page. Likewise, a handwritten note from a friend suggests she spent some time thinking about what she was going to write and then took the time to sit down and do it. When writing is meant to be personal and heartfelt, consider doing it by hand; it’ll make all the difference to the recipient.

When speed matters. For some writers, note-taking or any other kind of speed writing is easier done by hand. Many of us are proficient at typing, but I, for one, like to handwrite my notes because I’m less likely to misspell words and can abbreviate more quickly. When time is of utmost important, whether you’re doing an interview or listening to a lecture, a pencil or pen can be a better aid than a keyboard.

When convenience comes first. Writers are struck with writing ideas at some of the oddest times—usually, when they are not at their computers. Carrying around note pads and a writing tool is ideal for those times. Handwriting offers convenience because it’s always with you and it’s easy to do. Without the ability to handwrite, you risk losing a brilliant idea waiting to get to your computer.

When you’re stuck. Have you ever sat at your desk scratching your head over a sentence or paragraph that just isn’t working? You might shift words here and there, delete phrases and replace them, and then wish you had the original sentence back to start the process over. Handwriting alleviates this problem. It allows you to cross out, scribble, rearrange, and rewrite—without losing anything. Not only does handwriting help you get unstuck, though, it promotes clear thought and natural flow to your words.

Even if your handwriting is bad, like mine, it’s a skill worth keeping. Handwriting can come in handy, especially when your computer just won’t do the trick.

 

Image by Taylor Liberato

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