In the recent Fast Co.DESIGN article “10 Ways to Rescue Handwriting From the Grave,” author Philip Hensher describes his great love of handwriting—yep, the lost art requiring a writing utensil and non-digital surface—and his hope that handwriting gets its rightful place in our daily lives.
“I want everyone to maintain an intimate and unique connection with words and ink and paper and the movement of hand and arm. I would love people to lose shame in their own handwriting, and develop an interest in the varieties of writing instead–something which might lead them to do something about their handwriting, rather than regarding it with despair. I want people to write, not on special occasions, but daily. I want to maintain a variety of ways to engage with the silent word and the considered record of a sentence–typed on keyboards, thumbed on keypads, handwritten–and to enrich our relationship with language through a variety of means.” (Hensher)
Hensher’s piece reminds readers to fold in handwriting to your daily life. He’s not anti-digital writing but asks readers to remember—to also cherish—the simple craft of handwriting.
While I read the article (an excerpt from Hensher’s book The Missing Ink), a few points truly resonated with me. I’ll share three thoughts—then give you leave to go read the entire article.
1. Writing by hand every day helps us to bring down the hectic pace of our lives just a notch.
“In all sorts of areas of our life, we enhance the quality of our lives by going for the slow option, the path which takes a little bit of effort.” (Hensher)
If you peruse Etsy, the world’s largest online craft marketplace, you’ll see myriad people who chose to create works by hand. Yes, the crafters could have created art an easier way or bought a dress instead of sewing one, but they chose to create something extraordinary, something personal. Creating works by hand—whether an amazing vegetable garden a mosaic, hand-rolled ravioli, etc.—does take more time, more effort but it also requires more patience and thoughtfulness. You can’t rush pottery or a painting.
Producing those works, just like in writing a note by hand, helps us to slow down.
2. Writing helps us to be mindful. If we take some time to think about the writing surface, our writing instrument, and the movement of the writing instrument on paper, we become people who are more aware of our environment, our tasks, our lives.
“Why are you in a rush? Why don’t you have two minutes to write something down? Why is your pen dashing in that awful way over the paper? Who ever described, or thought of describing, their handwriting as executing so many w.p.m.? Why can’t you breathe, and lift, and take a moment to enjoy this small sensuous act?” (Hensher)
3. Writing by hand has value because it is a reflection of you. In other words, your handwriting is something that you’ve created. At its core, the written word, even if on a shopping list or a gift tag, is like your interpretation of symbols to reflect a thought. Don’t stress over it and make fun of it for being too small, too scribbled, too sloppy, too anything; don’t place burdens on it. Instead, value your handwriting’s unique aspects. You’ve produced artwork. Value it as such.
“Start from the good psychic point that you can always value it, because it has so much of you in it.” (Hensher)
Make handwriting part of your daily life. See those scraps of paper and scribbled thoughts as miniature works of art that express who you are. Not all of you—that’s far too much pressure for handwriting—but part of you, who you are in that moment. Whether you are feeling angry, whimsical, confused, or affectionate, your handwriting will reflect that.
In the Fast Co.DESIGN article, Hensher offers wonderful and thoughtful ideas for incorporating handwriting into your life. I highly recommend you check it out.