Why I want to write like my Grandmother

I used to HATE writing in cursive. I figured “cursive” was aptly named because that’s what I wanted to do when I had to write that way! My mother tried to teach me, and I learned but I never liked it. I was a confirmed print and keyboard girl.

I changed my mind when I started writing to my grandmother. She’s 96 and her health is failing. She was always kind to me and apparently I’m her favorite grandchild – quite a feather in the cap as she had nine kids! Most of her children and grandchildren are far away so I started writing her letters.

I noticed right away that she still has beautiful handwriting.

Her letters are a pleasure to read. She’d no sooner hand print a letter then she’d go to church naked. It’s writing or a typewriter for her!

Marveling at this, I thought to myself “how do I want to write when I’m that old? Do I want to have sixty more years of practice with my current chicken scratch, or do I want my words to look elegant and beautiful?”

So I reformed my attitudes and learned a bit more about the topic.

Cursive handwriting is a dying art. Though this isn’t new, it’s happening far more rapidly in recent years. Cursive was originally invented to help reduce handwriting fatigue in the days when all information was copied, and also to make it easier to write with dip pens and fountain pens with ink that often bled and ran.

Over time, styles of formal handwriting have been progressively simplified. If you look at examples from Copperplate, Spencerian, Palmer, and D’Nealian alphabets, you can easily see this simplification and how writing has changed over time.

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So, why was handwriting replaced with hand printing anyway? According to WIkipedia, one of the first death knells of handwriting was not the computer or even the typewriter, but rather the cheap, disposable ballpoint pen. Its quick drying, smudge free ink made “printing” easier and more convenient.

Now, many schools have stopped teaching cursive in favor of keyboarding. Printing is simpler to learn, easier to read for many people, and more like the letters we see every day on our computer and phone screens.

Why learn it, then?

It can very fun and rewarding to learn a dying art, and there are some really significant advantages to knowing how to write (and read) cursive.

I was taught cursive by my mother as a child. I always preferred printing, and later I took to a keyboard like a duck to water. I composed so much more easily with a computer – words and ideas flowed freely. I wrote this blog on a keyboard. I was a confirmed printer/typer.

Of course, it’s fun to be able to write in a secret code that the younger people can’t read…

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The fact is, handwriting looks beautiful, it’s easier on your hands, it’s great fun if you also use a fountain pen, and it’s a great way of making a statement. Handwriting puts your brain into a sort of “flow” state that’s great for diary writing and contemplation.

There are cognitive benefits too, and studies that indicate that a person who writes something down in cursive might have more mental activity than a person who prints the same information. If you want more information about this, scroll down to the bottom of this page, where you’ll find sourcing and links to the studies.

Handwriting can be a lot more enjoyable if you are doing something with it. You can copy inspiring quotes, use a nice pen and high quality paper, write in a journal, compose your poetry, or write letters. Considering that letter writing is another dying art that used to chronicle the history of the world, that’s a worthy hobby to take up.

It doesn’t have to cost much to pick up a nice pen (such as a Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen, for starters) and some decent paper. Quality materials greatly enhance the pleasure of the activity.

Learning cursive is easy too – you don’t have to pay a cent if you have access to the internet. You can choose a particular style that you like and work on that, either unaltered or modified to make it your own.

Let your personality shine through as you write, and know that you are carrying a fine art forward into the future instead of letting it fade from the world.

 

This article by Rohvannyn Shaw.

If you liked this article, find more content at my blog, Mindflight!

38 thoughts on “Why I want to write like my Grandmother”

  1. Very nice!
    I think I haven’t written in cursive for 17 years now.
    I have never had a good writing, so printing was the attempt to make people understand what I wrote.
    I’ll give it another shot someday 🙂

    Reply
  2. I so agree with you! I really want to practice and improve. You have inspired me. I think I need the old school lined paper to begin. Honestly I think the balance is so important. Having learned to write Japanese in quadrants I believe balance is what makes handwriting beautiful.

    Reply
    • I think so too. I also find it much easier to write kanji if I have quadrant paper. (I’m the barest beginner) I’ve found that grocery stores have the old lined paper, or you can use two lines of a notebook if needed.

      Reply
  3. When my father was in school, state examiners would make personal rounds to the state’s public and parochial school to ensure handwriting proficiency. It was on the test! In my humble opinion, nothing says “I love you” better than a handwritten note. <3 – Mira

    Reply
  4. There is nothing quite like handwriting.It’s a personal connect, and so satisfying. I still sometimes draft my posts in cursive. It took me many years to learn to use the computer to draft written work ! It just never felt right. I learnt calligraphy many years ago – and made many of my own cards. Must get back to it.

    Reply
  5. Wow, I didn’t know that cursive was a dying art because I’ve been using it since I was a 3rd grader. Besides the obviously awesome benefits with the flow and such, writing in cursive is also so much faster since you don’t have to stop until a word is finished. I wonder what I could do to help it not become a dying art…

    Reply
    • Do what you’re doing, and try to inspire other people – that’s what I’m trying to do. Many schools don’t even teach cursive anymore. I’m right with you on the speed advantage.

      Reply
  6. Enjoy the joys of writing in cursive ? I still write in cursive whenever I can. My handwriting isn’t as good as it was and you’re right, we must do our best to do what we can. I think I’ll go back to journal writing by hand. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

    Reply
  7. I confess that I write in cursive so little now my writing has become almost illegible but there is no doubt that writing cursive also gives one access o a person’s thoughts and nature, their style their attitudes. I miss it

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  8. I love this idea ? we learned how to write in Cursive at school but I haven’t practiced it for many years. Maybe now is the time to start again and improve. Thank you for the inspiration ? xx B

    Reply
  9. I still prefer sitting down with my diary and a pen rather than typing on my laptop… it makes it difficult to share what I write, but nevertheless there’s no parallel to pages heavy with ink and emotion. 🙂

    i appreciate this post so much. 🙂

    Reply
  10. My dad has beautiful cursive for a man. I purposively started writing everything in cursive around the age of 17 right after highschool just to practice his style. I’m 23 now and still sign my name in cursive and do most of my paperwork in cursive… When I’m nt mixing the two together lol. Now I feel like I have a mixed ration of both cursive and regular handwriting.

    Reply
  11. Whenever I want to think something out, I write down my thoughts in cursive. It helps me to find clarity in a way typing can’t. It’s a shame, the younger generation will not be taught this skill.

    Reply
  12. I’ve always loved cursive, but for two months I’ve been consciously trying to improve it. It’s an expensive hobby (you eventually want to buy higher quality items and more of them!) but it is quite enjoyable. I never wondered about the history, so thank you for that!

    Reply
  13. I had the exact same experience! I never used cursive until I began to write to my granny (now my best friend). When I received her first letter, I could hardly read it. I had to re-teach myself cursive so that I could communicate with her, and now I think it’s a beautiful art.

    It’s interesting to learn the background behind cursive’s fall from popularity. Thanks for shedding some light on an often forgotten subject!

    Reply
  14. I remember when we were younger we were forced to use fountain pens in school. At first it was fun, but I later hated it.
    Come to think of it, my work was neater then than it is now…
    I never knew about cursive writing,.. I should try it

    Reply

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