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.
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…
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!