According to Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, “The purpose of National Handwriting Day is to alert the public to the importance of handwriting. According to WIMA, National Handwriting Day is a chance for all of us to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting.”
I’ll start with the critique before I move on to the good stuff: I hate that National Handwriting Day is created and sponsored by the writing instruments industry, not teachers and writers and schools. Like Valentine’s Day and most other random holidays, this one was created for economic reasons. Shame.
So, I don’t know if I like when industries stake claims “purity and power,” but I will tell you why I like handwriting.
- It makes me slow down my thoughts. This isn’t always a good thing, especially when it’s important to get all my thoughts on the page and my hand can’t keep up with where my mind was going… Nonetheless, it allows for the sort of visual brainstorming that aids the creative process.
- Patience is a dying virtue. It’s true– writing a letter to a friend demands more time than writing an email. But by writing a letter, I’m also saying that this friend is worth more of my time. I think our relationships today could use more of that attention.
- Handwriting helps process information better than typing. I don’t really have the time to find scientific studies backing this up, but I know I’ve seen them somewhere… At least in my experience, I get far more out of my classes by taking handwritten notes. Students who use laptops don’t process information in the same way.. and much of the time, they’re fucking around on youtube anyways.
- Writing instruments are sexy. Okay, yes, I’m a little biased here– but just take a look at the Nakaya website, or the images on Pencil Talk, and it’s pretty hard to deny that there’s something aesthetically fulfilling about pens and pencils.
- It takes discipline– in a good way! I know that I sound like an ornery old man with a shotgun when I rant about my generation being too privileged, “not knowing the value of manual labor,” etc., but in all seriousness, I do think this is connected to our mental, emotional, and social health. I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about prescription drug abuse* on my campus, and wondering how any of us would have survived a hundred years ago, when we had nothing but discipline to get us through school. Having good handwriting takes practice and discipline– which are always good things (in moderation of course).
- It’s beautiful (duh).
Here’s a page from the Fountain Pen Network with handwriting links.
*…which is a whoooole ‘nother post.