A Second Hand Post

Handwritten Blog Post

Handwritten Blog Post

Note:  This blog post was originally handwritten.

The January 9 and 16, 2012 issue of Newsweek featured an article by Sharon Begley on how to raise your IQ along with “31 Ways to Get Smarter in 2012.” One suggested way to increase your smarts was to write by hand.  The article suggested that handwriting “engages more sections of your brain than typing” and that you can recall ideas more easily after writing them down.The suggestion made me think and wonder:  beyond the obligatory, occasional thank you notes penned on monogrammed stationery or the checks written for specific personal purchases or bills payments, how often do I handwrite in this increasingly digital world?

When considering my history when it comes to handwriting, I still remember the thrill of being allowed to write in cursive form in the third grade during the early ’70s.  I also remember that my father ,who practiced law in the ’70s, had a secretary who knew how to write in shorthand.  And, I remember the fun of writing in “Pig Latin” with early childhood friends.

I remember the excitement of receiving handwritten “love notes” from classmates in middle and junior high school as well as discovering the art of poetry writing.  And, I can’t forget how “exotic” it felt to communicate via handwritten letters with a French Pen Pal during my ninth grade year.  Such a global communication is so commonplace now, as we live in a world with global Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers.

I can recall handwriting my high school valedictory speech, the verbal delivery of which was preserved in a VHS tape, and how could I forget the countless notes hand-drafted during my college courses or those two-hour hand-written college exam essays?

Though I learned to type in high school, my transition from routine handwriting to the online digital world began with a Brother brand word processor in the early ’90s.  I became fully entrenched in online technology and endeavors when I began working as a communications specialist on the former IBM PC Company division’s internal SAP software implementation.  From that point, my online typing overtook my handwriting efforts.

Over time, many of my most treasured keepsakes are hand-written cards, poems and letters from family, friends and loved ones. I own journals and boxes to store the memorable words that carry so much meaning.

What about you?  What have been your most significant personal writings?  How have you maintained or honored those words?  And, how often do you handwrite today?

Maybe you should write your answers to those questions down.  According to the Newsweek article and author Begley, your brain may appreciate your doing so.

To write or not to write: that is the question.

Pen and Pencil imageThis week the CBS News Sunday Morning show featured a video segment that raised the question, “Is penmanship being written off?”  Similarly, Newsweek included an article, “Texting Makes U Stupid.”

It was interesting to observe that the programming shown on one of the largest U.S. television networks and the content highlighted in one of America’s premier print news publications both referenced the historical importance of writing and questioned the continued evolution of writing in today’s world.

No doubt, high technology has impacted modern writing.  For example, how many children do you know in recent years who have learned to punch the keys on a toy laptop or real laptop before or simultaneous to grabbing a crayon and scribbling?

Now, consider yourself and your answers to these questions:

1.  Do you actively write as part of your day-to-day personal routine?

2. Are you required by the nature of your job to write?

3. Do you currently maintain or have you ever maintained a hand-written personal journal or diary?

4. When was the last time that you hand-wrote a letter to a family member of friend?

5. When was the last time that you hand-wrote a thank you note to anyone?

6. When was the last time you wrote a story of fiction or non-fiction by hand?

7. When was the last time that you hand-wrote an essay or a speech?

8. Have you ever hand-written poetry or song lyrics?

9. What is the writing utensil that you use the most – a pencil, a pen or a keyboard?

10.  Does traditional handwriting, or the lack thereof, make a significant difference in your writing ability?

Regardless of whether traditional handwriting is dying, the proliferation of writing continues.  Millions of bloggers exist today, and millions of individuals are expressing themselves via mobile texting, Facebook, Twitter and other digital channels.

If you are among those who are engaging in less traditional handwriting and more digital content creation today, consider your future.

You may even want to read the book, “Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What’s Your Legacy?” It’s one book that’s on my reading list.


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