Posted by: Lisa Hill | April 7, 2019

The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, by Anne Trubek AND The Missing Ink, The Lost Art of Handwriting (And Why It Still Matters), by Philip Hensher

These two books on the subject of handwriting were side-by-side at the library, and I read them one after the other, so I think they belong together in a review…

I read The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting first, expecting to be unconvinced, but Trubek makes a plausible argument that the handwriting many of us value so much, is doomed.  She begins the book with the example of a child learning handwriting in a classroom today.  The child initially says that she likes handwriting best because she doesn’t have to search for the letters on the keyboard, but she changes her mind later and says that handwriting makes her hand hurt.  This anecdote shows just how fast things have moved in just a few short years since the book was published in 2016:  if what I see around me is any guide, then children start school already adept with screens of one sort or another and won’t be troubled by needing to search for letters at all.  What’s more, ‘intelligent personal assistants’ that go by names like Lisa, Alexa, Genie and Siri are activated by oral commands.  There’s even a voice-command thingy on the steering-wheel of my car.  No need even to type…

Trubek’s book takes the reader through the development of writing, from the earliest cuneiform tablets and hieroglyphs, to the Roman capitalis alphabet, and a myriad of scripts through the Middle Ages and beyond.  (There are six pages of colour images, but it would have been a good idea, IMO, to include more images of these scripts, because I’d never heard of most of them.  LOL Perhaps she intended that I should use my phone to Google them?)

Anyway, all of these scripts, until the advent of mass literary, were practised by only a small minority of people.  Even among those who could read, writers were a minority subset, and most of the writing that was done was mere copying, not creating and recording new ideas.  In 19th and 20th century America, a neat and accurate hand was a sign of good character and an industrious attitude.  These attributes were very important for the type of (very boring) clerical work that was needed. But, Trubek argues, they are not necessary now.  People today have screens as an alternative.  What writing is done, uses the thumbs not a pen.  Scanners record sales and stock movements, not clerks placing numbers in columns and adding them up afterwards.  We can order digital devices to do things for us with just verbal instructions, and there are authors who dictate their entire book to a computer faithfully recording every word that is said, just the way that authors of the past dictated to a secretary.

If you are reading the above with a sense of rebellion or dismay, then it is possibly because you still ascribe certain values to the acquisition of handwriting. Just the other day I was told that I had beautiful handwriting, and I admit to feeling pleasure at this compliment.  But why is it a compliment?  Why is having good handwriting considered a virtue or a sign of intelligence?  Trubek also covers the fad for character analysis using handwriting, and the difficulties of assessing the individuality of any particular hand (as for example when judging the authenticity of a signature on a Will).  Her style is light, and not overly academic but the book has an index and footnotes.

Philip Hensher takes the opposite tack, and he makes objections to the death of handwriting that had sprung to mind as I was reading the Trubek book.  I like this one:

Here’s a thing.  You’re driving down an Indiana track when out of nowhere comes a tractor into the side of your Subaru.  Neither of you have ever been able to write anything but your own names.  The farmhand don’t be holding with them thar smart phones nor with that new-fangled Internet.  (Or he does, but the battery on your smartphone has died a death – take your pick of disastrous scenarios).  So there the two of you stand, helpless, in an Indiana field, trying to work out which way up to hold a pen and cursing the idiotic name of Dr Scott Hamilton who landed you in this mess.  (p.23)

Dr Scott Hamilton is a psychologist who said it made sense to only teach children how to sign their names in joined-up writing.  

It seems to me that there are many scenarios like this, and you don’t need to be in the backblocks of Indiana to encounter them.  (For lousy Internet reception, you only need to be on the Gold Coast, the Hunter Valley, or anywhere that they are installing the NBN for days at a time.)  I write reminders to myself all the time, on scraps of paper that I leave in conspicuous places so that I remember to collect/return library books, buy strawberries, take the dog to the vet and hang out the washing that I pre-programmed to operate overnight on the low electricity tariff.  What use is it to me to have a reminder on my laptop/desktop/phone if I am not in the same place as they are? (Which, I am mostly not, because I am mostly somewhere else, reading a book.)  What about the thoughts I scrawl on whatever paper is to hand when I’m reading in a coffee shop, on a train, or in a doctor’s waiting room?  Or when I have a speech to make, and just before delivering it I realise I’ve forgotten to mention some VIP and I hastily scribble a note in the margins of my neatly typed speech?  And how do teachers and university professors deliver their feedback to students if they can’t write on the assignment?  Would an Apple watch obviate this problem?  Can you tell it what to do, or can it tell you what to do unobtrusively, or must you shout at it the way people shout their private business into phones all over railway carriages?  (Imagine being at a funeral and your watch starts shouting about remembering to buy toilet paper and petrol on the way home!  But no, of course, you’d turn it off, and (unless you wrote a note to remind yourself to turn it back on afterwards) then you’d forget to buy the toilet rolls and to fill up the car…  Would swearing at the voice-command thingy on the steering-wheel help when you’ve run out of petrol on the highway in peak hour?)

Hensher makes the point that sometimes, in some situations, only handwriting will do.  He gives the example of condolence letters sent by the UK prime minister to the parents of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.  Someone perceived, quite rightly, that a computer-generated letter with a digital prime ministerial signature would be recognised as the work of an underling, and dismissed as worthless.  So Gordon Brown handwrote a rather kind and thoughtful letter to one of the bereaved.  Who promptly took it to the newspaper because it didn’t meet her standards of spelling and penmanship.  It turns out that this was a bit mean because Gordon Brown was at that time having difficulty with his sight, but Hensher uses this example to make a wider point:

… the Brown episode shows that, sometimes, we expect people to write well.  In certain circumstances, we deplore had writing: the bad, ugly, illiterate, ill-formed writing of someone who has never practised writing, never considered that it might be a duty to write in ways which people can read and take some pleasure from.  If we expect good writing on elevated occasions, is it not reasonable to expect people to write reasonably well all the time?  It is not reasonable to think that people can write terribly, illegibly badly almost all the time and then elevate their handwriting for special purposes.  Sometimes, it clearly matters a good deal. (p.26)

(I hope I’m not the only person left in the world who sends hand-written condolence cards.)

The style of the Hensher book is a bit scatty. Some chapters consist of numbered points on a common theme rather than a considered argument.  For example, in ‘What’s My Handwriting Like?’ this is the last one:

10.  2008.  A creative-writing student tells me that she is unable to carry a notebook around with her to make notes in with a pen (for the overheard dialogue on buses, characteristic small pieces of behaviour among strangers) because she can’t write with a pen on paper.  Can’t? ‘It really hurts.’ And, by the way, the student finds my handwriting really difficult to read, so could I give all feedback in typing?  Yes, that too. (p. 37)

Hensher also has ‘witnesses’ who he’s interviewed about how they learned and use handwriting, and then there are chapters about, for example, copperplate (which is more or less what I write in, mangled somewhat by having to teach the truly awful Victorian Cursive). This chapter covers some of the same ground as the Trubek book, assigning American scripts to the ‘moral improvement’ brigade but also acknowledging that its flowing hand can be written swiftly.

BTW My Grade Six teacher Mrs Sheedy would have rapped us very smartly over the knuckles if we had lifted our pens the way this writer in this video does! If she had heard of Edward Johnston who created the sans serif font for the Underground during WWI, she clearly dismissed his ideas about unnecessary joins as heretical.

There’s also a chapter on Vere Foster (UK) and A N Palmer (US) whose less florid and more quickly executed styles you can also find with a Google search; and one on Dickens: one of the great unreadable nineteenth-century handwritings. Dickens, says Hensher, shows in his novels that he subscribed to the view that a characteristic handwriting displays a social condition and the pencil is often a harbinger of horror like the horrible letter scrawled to Old Riah in Our Mutual Friend.  There is a chapter about French handwriting which contrasts their dedication to the development of handwriting, to the 1980s and 1990s in the UK as English handwriting lessons slid further and further down the agenda. This chapter also references the German transition from the Sütterlin script called Fraktur (which Hitler liked for its Germanic purity); to the post-Hitler era when they began the Model Latin Script in the West and the Model School Script in the GDR; and finally the 1993 Simplified Model Script after reunification.  However *gasp!* it remains controversial:

The German national union of primary school teachers started a campaign in 2011 to abolish the teaching of the national cursive model nationwide. The forces of conservatism and the sixty-eight-ish forces of child-centred freedom square up against each other; the forces of nationhood and duty, impressed upon an increasingly multicultural nation, seem to many an absurd thing to hope to embody in loops and curves, or in a decision about whether your letters should join according to the Model Latin Script or not. (p.106)

But the point is well made that handwriting has always been subject to change – and that reminds me that just last week my French teacher told us sacre bleu! that in France they have abandoned the circumflex! (â ê î ô û).

There’s a chapter about the invention of Italic and the William Morris movement (which Hensher dismisses as a total absurdity and a rich man’s occupation for the original champagne socialists.  But the Morris version of Italic (though not very attractive in H’s opinion, scroll down this link to see it for yourself) gathered disciples and serious fanatics to promote it…

The chapter called ‘Ink’ reminds us that writing can be done by any number of substances:

There is also the story which comes up from time to time about a very helpful and kindly German prisoner of war in Ipswich who announced that he was a gardener in private life.  Would the town council like him to plant some bulbs?  Oh yes, please, that would be very nice, as all the town gardeners had been called up.  The POW worked very hard, to the delight of all the town.  You see, they’re not all bad, those Germans, and when the war’s over we’ll all be friends again.  They missed him a little bit when he was transferred to another camp in a month or two.  Then spring came and a vast array of crocuses came up, when it became apparent that the German gardener had planted them in the shape of a giant swastika. (p.136)

The chapter about pens shares the delightful snippet that when you are elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, you get to choose whether you sign the Book with either Byron’s pen or Dickens’ quill.  (Yes, I would have chosen the Dickens’ implement, as Hensher did.)  What will become of this illustrious Book if writers abandon the pen entirely?  I also enjoyed the chapter about the invention of the biro a.k.a. ballpoint pen, which is a reminder of what a miracle these things are compared to ink which Hensher has timed at taking 9 seconds to dry! (So I don’t really understand his compulsion to buy a new fountain pen and the trouble he had getting what he wanted at Harrods.  Except of course, that even now, as you can tell from the ads in the glossy weekend magazines, having a posh fountain pen to flourish is like having a posh watch even if you’d rather really have an Apple iWatch which probably costs more.  It’s all about prestige.)

There’s also a fascinating chapter about Proust which will appeal to aficionados of In Search of Lost Time.  I wish I’d had this to hand when I was reading Brian Nelson’s new translation of Swann in Love.  I think I might photocopy these few pages and tuck them into my copy for future reference.)

Hensher thinks that Marion Richardson is the hero of handwriting because she promoted child-centred art and writing, and made learning to write fun.  (See a sample here.)  She abandoned the pseudo-militaristic approach which culminated in Palmer and began instead with what the child can do, and what he will enjoy doing.  I wonder if this approach still holds true with kids hooked on screens from the time they are able to hold one in their chubby little hands?

The chapter called ‘Reading Your Mind’ is hilarious, not at all like Trubek’s serious analysis of the dubious ‘science’ of graphology.  For example, from Hensher’s self-confessed list of things he believes about handwriting comes #3 People who don’t close up their lower-case g’s are very bad at keeping secrets and #12: A handwriting where the crossbar of the t doesn’t touch the upright is that of an impatient person.  Hire them.  They get stuff done.  (This belief he attributes to Mrs Thatcher’s signature!)

The last chapter is lovely: it’s a plea to resurrect handwriting, and it has 10 suggestions for reintroducing it into your life, my favourite of which is #8 Write to other people.  How I miss writing to my parents, and receiving their letters in reply!

*****

Now… the problem with reviewing two books in one post is that it makes the post rather long.  But if you’re still with me, I’m curious.  When was the last time you wrote something by hand? And what do you think:  Is handwriting dead?  Does it matter?

For the record: Yesterday I hand-wrote some thoughts about the book I was reading, I hand-wrote a brief shopping list, and I hand-annotated my hand-written recipe for spanakopita to record how many the recipe makes.  And today I hand-wrote a postcard to the neighbour to whom I lent my copy of Jane Rawson’s The Handbook asking for it back. (Do you agree with me that an SMS or a typed note would seem to be a more aggressive reminder that he’s had it for months?) Oh yes, and I also hand-wrote the publishing details of Chapter 23 of the Hensher book onto the photocopy I made which is going to be tucked into Book One of In Search of Lost Time.  

Author: Anne Trubek
Title: The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, 2016, 177 pages
ISBN: 9781620402153 (hbk.)
Source: Bayside: Library

Author: Philip Hensher
Title: The Lost Art of Handwriting (And Why It Still Matters)
Publisher: Macmillan (Pan Macmillan UK), 2012
ISBN: 9780230767126 (hbk.)
Source: Bayside Library


Responses

  1. My goodness! I write by hand everyday as well as use a keypad. I think the world needs both. Not to mention the work the brain does as this happens with fine motor skills. My brain needs all the exercise it can get!😍😍😍

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    • I was a little bit disappointed that neither book addressed the emerging research that shows that our brains retain information differently if we write by hand or read print not screen. I’ve gathered bits of information about this research but can’t remember the sources (it must have been the ABC, the Guardian, the Conversation, the Saturday Paper, QE and/or Inside Story because they’re what I read). I’d like a readable summary of where we are with this issue because I think it really must matter!

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      • I agree with you. Anything that strengthens the brain has to be a good thing.

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        • I’m hoping that someone out there in the world of blogging will come across a book that covers this side of the topic.

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  2. Another compelling blog post Lisa.

    “Now… the problem with reviewing two books in one post is that it makes the post rather long. But if you’re still with me, I’m curious. When was the last time you wrote something by hand? And what do you think: Is handwriting dead? Does it matter?”

    I’m with you and no issues with long posts. I write by hand every working day. I am an estimator at a printing company and have to rewrite by hand new instructions on computer generated work tickets that tend to be in a state of permanent flux due to the nature of the industry. I suppose that that is the way it is for the likes of me. I do have abysmal hand writing so write in caps to try and make it legible. I don’t think hand writing is dead but like life in general has changed.

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    • Yes, I think so too… but it may be our age!

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  3. I am moving more and more to typing than writing but I still do handwrite.

    What I’ve moved to typing includes a lot of those notes you mention. I am using the Notes app on my phone and iPad increasingly for notes to myself because then I can find them! The Notes app has folders so I have a folder for my blog, for my Friends of the NFSA work, for my Jane Austen group, etc. The value is that some of those notes end up in blogs or documents and I can copy and paste, then edit them, rather than retype words I’ve already written. I type my weekly letter to my Californian friend, but hand-sign it. I’ve toyed with typing my shopping list into the Notes app but find that I mostly prefer the handwritten list.

    I type minutes of meetings, notes on author events etc, that I go to, straight into my Notes app. Ah, no, wait on, actually, I quite often write these with a stylus into Notes using a special script keyboard than converts the writing immediately to text. So, yes, handwriting for those!!

    Mr Gums uses his phone alarm-reminder system for all reminders, including things like “put the rubbish out” or “water the plants.” I tend to remember most of these sorts of things, but I do use the reminder app for longer term things like to make an appointment (which can’t be done for three months etc.) or to remind me to send our fortnightly coffee reminder to the ex-patchwork-now-coffee-group, etc.

    (The Notes and reminder apps are great for me because they all sync between laptop, iPad and iPhone. I can add to one anywhere and it will appear on the other devices.)

    But, I still handwrite condolence letters, gift (birthday, Christmas etc) cards (of course), thank you notes. I handwrite shopping lists mostly (see above!) I handwrite marginalia in or at the back of my books.

    I saw Hensher’s article on this topic a few years ago – in TLS I think. Fascinating.

    A long answer, I’m afraid, but it is a fascinating topic. (BTW I used to have beautiful Queensland writing but it has gone to pot over the years. I have no idea why or how that happened but my Mum blames biros. I use fountain pens all through university lectures, but in the workplace it became biros. I think she’s probably right.)

    PS You may like to fix your post as you’ve mostly called Hensher, Henshaw in your text. (Edit this out of my comment if you like!)

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    • *Gasp!* You are right about Hensher/Henshaw – that was Spellcheck, and it kept trying to change it back just now when I made the corrections!
      If that’s not an argument for handwriting, I don’t know what is!!

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      • Sue, do you have your phone with you all the time, so that those reminders are with you wherever you go?

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        • Well, yes and no. I usually have either the phone or the iPad near me, or I’m sitting on the laptop, so although I’m not great at having my phone ON to notice calls (much to Mr Gums’ horror) I am close enough to one of those for those reminders to work. Most of the reminders I use the system for are not so time critical that an hour or two is not a problem. The only really time critical ones are cooking, and I do use a kitchen timer for those!

          I do all my radio listening on the iPad (or the phone if the iPad is charging) so I don’t use a radio anymore, hence these devices are with me more often too for that reason.

          Would you believe that if someone calls my iPhone, and it’s in my handbag somewhere but I’m sitting on my laptop, then it also rings on my laptop and I can answer it there. (Which is not to say that the laptop is always taking phone calls! It’s just that if I have it open and logged on that’s what happens. I then catch calls that I would otherwise miss because I am not good with phone calls on the iPhone as I often have it turned to silent!!) Is this making sense. We all use out devices so differently.

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          • I’m terrible at catching calls or SMS on the phone, but I’ve recently changed the ringtone so if I leave it in the hall, I can hear it from the library or the bedroom or the lounge or family room. If I’ve remembered to turn it back on, that is…

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            • I’m hopeless at calls too as I often have the phone on silent, and forget to take it out of silent. Again because of syncing and notifications I often pick up SMSs by one route or another. I’ve never been keen on phones at the best of times!

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              • Clearly, we are twin souls! But I don’t synch anything, I like to keep things separate:)

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      • Haha, Lisa. Good one.

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        • No, I mean, really? I know people (admittedly a bit younger than us) who do, take them everywhere and sleep with them beside the bed…
          And they can text faster than I can write…

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          • Yes, I get your point! But no, my phone is usually in my handbag or being charged. It is almost never in the bedroom. My iPad isn’t either as I usually charge it overnight. The only time my iPad is in the bedroom is on Saturday and Sunday mornings when it’s my turn for breakfast in bed and the iPad is brought in to me then!!

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          • I also don’t listen to things on my phone or iPad when I walk. That’s quiet time (or conversation time if I’m with someone else.)

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        • Actually this “haha good one” comment was meant to be to your comment about the autocorrect being a good argument for handwriting, but I think our comment-responses got a bit confused!

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          • I quite often don’t press hard enough to capitalise things, and with words that spellcheck recognises as names, I just let it do the autocorrect because it’s quicker, only this time it did more than just the capital letter, it changed it and I just didn’t notice!

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  4. I try to keep up my handwriting for it’s a pleasurable activity. I also write the occasional letter to an old friend in the eastern states which she says gives her pleasure so that is good enough for me to continue. Still the standard has dropped over the years although like you people comment on my script which surprises me for it’s nowhere near what it once was when a girl wanting to win accolades from my favourite teacher Miss Sillars.

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    • Hi Fay, your comment reminds me that yes, our handwriting does change as we age. I have letters from relations in the UK that betrayed a trembling hand as the years went by.
      I’m guessing that for people with arthritis, keyboards or voice-activated devices are easier than writing, but there is a loss of that personal touch, I think. My mother could barely hold a pen in her last days, but she wrote me a brief card which I treasure…

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  5. I used to correspond by hand in letters with my oldest friend. Since he died I find the only handwriting I do is much the same as others said above: greetings cards, lists, etc. But I make copious notes in notebooks – different ones for different themes – reading, blog notes, random/creative…And a diary. Recently discovered the Notes app. Useful for PINs

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    • Hi Simon, What I find hard to imagine is how we would get on without having any handwriting at all, that is, not knowing how to do it.
      BTW One of Hensher’s suggestions is for keeping a diary, I can’t imagine doing that on a screen!

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      • Quite so. I can’t imagine keeping a diary electronically. I don’t like reading ebooks, either. I prefer making handwritten notes in the margins, underline, etc. In pencil, of course!

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        • They say, don’t they, that the light from screens contributes to insomnia, so I think both reading in bed and writing a diary are better not done electronically…

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  6. I use a mix of handwriting and screenwriting. Like you, Lisa, I’ve been complemented on my handwriting but I think that’s only because it’s legible. And it’s pretty much Victorian Cursive, I’m afraid… Shopping lists, notes to kids and notes to self are all hand written on scraps of paper saved for the purpose (Any document that arrives on A4 paper, and is only printed on one side, gets torn into four pieces once it is no longer required and saved in an old serviette holder, to be used as note paper). I use a hardcopy A5 diary for appointments (although for work appointments I also record them in an online diary, mainly so my team can see where I am on any given day). I but the same brand of appointment diary each year, and wouldn’t be without it. I hand write all important letters – thank yous, condolences, etc. I also hand write thank you letters at work, always to people who donate $1000 or more, but sometimes for other reasons too. People like them. Like Sue, I use the Notes function on my phone, but not every day. For writing of any length – reports, essays, books (!) I only ever use Microsoft Word – including for the first draft. A long response to a long post. Should have just said I’m happy in both worlds – handwriting, or typing!

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    • A woman after my own heart Michelle! That’s a good idea about the serviette holder, we recycle our A4 too for notes too, but they’re in an untidy pile on top of the fridge, and his desk and mine.
      I discovered an interesting intrusion of privacy the other day when my old phone died and I had to get a new one. I put appointments into the phone calendar but I don’t synch it with my desktop Outlook (or anything else) because I have people’s birthdays and other private info on that and (obviously) I don’t have their permission to put that into online phone calendar where it can so easily be hacked for identity theft.
      But I thought it would be a handy idea to have a separate phone calendar for our forthcoming trip to NZ, so I downloaded a Google calendar and it promptly synched itself with the default calendar. Without my permission at all, of course, and all those other appointments were then going to be whacked up into the Google calendar in the cloud which I did not want. Apparently there is no solution to this, so I deleted everything and uninstalled it, and then had to put all my appointments back in again to the default calendar.
      It just shows you how your private information can become public… I know for sure that the only reason Facebook has got hold of my phone number is that other people have uploaded it through their contacts being online.

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  7. Despite having been a touch typist since I was 17, I still handwrite all the time. For notes it goes into my brain better. Though I *am* glad I can type up my blog post, because if I try to write as fast as my brain sometimes goes, I get very illegible! :DDD

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    • Yes, I find it goes into the brain better too. If I write a shopping list, but forget to take it with me, it doesn’t matter. Unless it’s very long, I don’t need to retrieve the list from my pocket even when I’ve got it with me… I can still remember what’s on it. I can ‘see’ the items in the order that I wrote them. I have tried making a list on the notes app on my phone, and it doesn’t work. I have to retrieve it.
      So there’s something about the act of writing which cements info in the brain.

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  8. What a fascinating post, Lisa. I’m with you. I write books and articles on the computer, and by now I am as fast and as accurate as I am with handwriting. But all my notes are handwritten. My notebook in my bag is filled daily, & when I sit in silence, thinking, I write in a larger notebook. Later, when I am transcribing, I often re-think the notes. I write daily notes to my self and reminders all over the house. I write by hand to say thank you, or congratulations, or to send sympathy. I write by hand to my grandchildren and they write back to me by hand, with designs and pictures and all sorts of adornments. They both constantly practice pretentious, ostentatious signatures, just as I did at their age. I love technology and I read both on the Kindle and in print – I love all forms or reading and writing. For what it is worth, Dr Norman Doidge, a Psychiatrist & Neuroscientist, once included hand-writing among his five essential activities for a healthy brain. I also saw ad for a tablet that lets you write on it in an exact replica of a notebook.
    My own handwriting is very different now, from when I was younger, and I struggle to decipher the ancient handwriting I study for research, but as styles change, it all still handwriting.
    The history of handwriting is like the history of reading or of the book. A history of constant change and mutations but still here in new forms and still useful, valid, and often beautiful.
    Thanks for such a stimulating read.

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    • Ah, Jan I’m glad you commented, because you’re a writer of fiction, (Michelle Scott Tucker (above) is the author of NF bio of Elizabeth Macarthur) so although writing on screen would be your routine practice, Hensher’s advice to an aspiring writer to have a notebook handy all the time would have resonated with you.
      Libraries all over the world keep collections of author’s papers which would include those notebooks, so I wonder what future insights we’ll get into an author’s thinking if she only ever ‘writes’ on an App?

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  9. Personally, I think my handwriting is getting worse, but whenever I produce a batch of certificates at school and write the names in everyone always says I have nice handwriting which is lovely. I always keep a notebook in my handbag, so am always jotting things down – but that is mere scribble really. But handwriting doesn’t make your hand ache the way using computer mouse does!

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    • Ah, I thought that was just me: I’ve broken my RH thumb three times so it’s not happy if I overdo it with the mouse. (Though truth be told I was more likely to do that when I played Civilisation and Lemmings, which I have deliberately *not* installed on my computer because I know what would happen. These days I just make it ache playing Solitaire.)
      BTW One of the books, I’m not sure now which one it was, talks about how we value calligraphy for important things like certificates. All my certificates have my name in calligraphy and there are also signatures by the Dean or the Chancellor or whatever which look very scruffy (but authentic!) by comparison. I don’t envy the signatories their task: when I was President of VILTA we used to run a major competition for oral and written Indonesian with entries from all over Victoria, and I had to sign hundreds of certificates. It took an entire afternoon to do it nicely, and that certainly made my hand ache!

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  10. My handwriting has always been atrocious. Anything that I ever wrote looked like it was a mess and I appeared barely literature. Thus I never bemoaned digitalization. With that, I understand the appeal of handwriting. Especially for those who are good at it. I also hope that it will be always with us. I just do not want to be the one writing in it.

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    • LOL Brian, this probably means that your signature will be worth a fortune one day due to its rarity value!

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  11. It’s not the post that was too long it was the comments. I’m old so yes I write by hand all the time. I used to always hand write first drafts (of assignments or blog posts) and then edit as I typed but these days I like to cut and paste too much. I do sleep with my phone beside my head – so I can open one eye and see the time – but notes I write by hand, in my diary mostly. Don’t do cards, but I do still sometimes write letters (long time since I got a reply!)

    I remember the year I was allowed to dip a pen in ink and the joy of finally doing real writing – I still write my Fs back to front.

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    • What about the younger members of your family, Bill. Do they handwrite anything?

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      • 7 and 8 can write. They’re at a Steiner school, I don’t think they use keyboards. Ms 15, I’m not sure – all keyboard probably. My kids – all 40 ish – have just or are doing degrees and I think they take their notes longhand first.

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        • That’s interesting! 7 & 8 don’t have a choice, not at school, but the 40s do, and they’re choosing to write?

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  12. BTW Word handles teachers’ corrections and comments very well.

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  13. I used to use it when students submitted digital products, but without a colour printer it was hard for them to see what corrections I’d made.

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