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Writing – pen to paper or fingers to keyboard – tradition over modernity

These days, everyone is a writer.  That is what technology has done.  From the person who composes a short text message and garnishes it with the perfect emojis, to the one who prepares the agenda for an important board meeting, to the one writing in her own journal, everyone is writing.  Whether there is some art to the action is another matter.  Modernity may have necessitated the act of writing, but it has taken away from the artistry behind it.  There was a time when a person’s writing would easily be recognized by a few things – his writing style, the length of sentences, the vocabulary he uses, the quality of the paper, the way he used active or passive voice, grammar, his subjects of interest etc.  Today, we have pre-designed fonts, font sizes and colors to choose from.  One can pay attention to formatting the document, but apart from that, the way the personality reflected through one’s writing is truly missing.  Do you not also sense the same?

Writing with one’s own hand is fundamentally different from typing.  Couple of the most fundamental ways it comes through are as follows:

  • Handwriting uses only one hand – the right or the left – and engages the physical act in a unique way with the person’s brain.  Typing is done with both hands and is fundamentally a different action.
  • Handwriting is always slower than typing.  The speed and strength with which one writes trains the thoughts and emotions to flow out in an entirely different manner than when one sits down and starts typing on a keyboard.  Some even type more than a hundred words in a minute, but a writer has to be slower and more purposeful in the very act of writing with the hand.

A revival of traditional writing is useful and enriching to modernity

Handwriting needs a revival.  It will bring back the art associated with writing.  I would venture to say, if someone has only been typing for a few years and absolutely not touched a pen for a lengthy writing, then it would feel like a welcome reminder of what a pleasure it can be.  Some time ago, I had the pleasure of such a reminder.  The way it engaged the eyes, the hand, the mind and the heart was something typing simply isn’t capable of replicating.  As a separate point, aside from the English language , when one thinks of Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic, then what is done using the hand for writing takes on a totally different meaning.  It is truly an art form.

Some states, such as Indiana, have decided to go on teaching cursive writing in school. Without this skill, they assert, young Americans will no longer be able to read birthday cards from their grandparents, comments by teachers on their assignments or the original, handwritten text of the constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

– Handwriting vs typing: is the pen still mightier than the keyboard? Computers may dominate our lives, but mastery of penmanship brings us important cognitive benefits, research suggests (The Guardian)

Keeping a journal – especially if one is fond of poetry and creative writing – can be so important to one’s health of mind.  The chance to return to a journal like returning to a faithful friend deserves a good writing instrument.  The pleasure of writing is its own reward, and as one develops the proficiency of expression, it can really be a joy.

It seems appropriate at this time to send out this reminder born from a personal conviction.  Aside from that, there are reasons to consider in favor of handwriting, despite the seeming inconveniences compared to typing technology.  When one considers factors such as memory, and how the very process of thinking is intertwined with the art and speed of writing – something bypassed by typing – there is more than the obvious reasons to go back to holding a pen in one’s hand and put it to a favored piece of paper!  Please have a look at the following graphic taken from The Benefits of Handwriting vs. Typing [Infographic]

The writing tradition deserves a revival
The writing tradition deserves a revival
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