Handmade Words

  There is nothing like handmade words, a line, a dash and swish of the hand, serifs and tails and  maybe even an arm. All elements of letters, marks on the page that make up blocks of letters that read as words, a letter to  friends, family or a poem, an expression of love.

Our hand writing is our own unique marks, lines and style, the reader cannot only read words but emotions and mood of the writer.

While in college, I received some beautiful letters of encouragement from my Grandmother, telling me about when she and my Grandfather first set off in the world. She described how they had to make do with until very little until they had enough money to buy furniture. My Grandmother wanted me to know, we all struggle when we start out in life, we must keep trying, she gave me a very precious message, one I didn’t understand until I was newly married. As we moved into our first house and used an old box as a night stand, covering it with a white lace table cloth.

Years later, my mother gave me a letter before she died, it was a letter she wrote to her Mother, an apology; this letter changed the way I saw my mother. In the letter her style of writing was sad, tired and on quite a slant. These letters are precious to me, they hold the key to my parents and grandparents relationships and important element to my own understanding of my relationships.

Not only the contents of letters is as important but the actual putting your hand on a page and making marks with a pen has proven important as well.

Recently, I wrote a poem and it seemed to come tumbling out quite fast and clumsily, I got stuck a few times but I kept writing, moving my pen across the paper, rewriting the words over and over, the process seemed to help me as I struggled with the right phrases. This process was very different from using a laptop or a tablet.

A few studies have been done with students taking notes with a pen vs a laptop, showing that the student that used pens to take notes, showed they retained more information then students using laptops. I found this most interesting and wanted to explore this further. Most of us use a keyboard now a few clicks and a short message on a I phone, that is why they created emoji to help us when we text express our feelings. We rarely save out emails these days, I use to print them out,  put them in a folder but I have since stopped doing that as we have moved a few times I have grown weary of clearing things out. All my letters to my husband and his letters to me while we were dating across the ocean we have kept, letters people lovingly to time to write to us when we were away from home, words not often spoke were put into these letters and we value this the letters more then most things.

As and Artist I was so sad to learned that since 2013 American children in most of the United States dropped the cursive writing classes or what some called joined up writing. While in France they have  kept teaching children hand writing and they found a key step in cognitive development. ” Handwriting vs typing: is the pen still mightier than the keyboard?”  from The Guardian Weekly  By Anne Chemin 1

My questions is, are you using a different part of the brain and how does it affect our brains? Some studies show that while writing more persist of the brain are fired up. In drawing I know that this is true, learning Calligraphy you are taught how to use yours arms and wrist to create beautiful circles  and lines, is it art , it may time some time to understand these questions.

“…Research highlights the hand’s unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, says handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding involves selecting a whole letter by touching a key. She says pictures of the brain have illustrated that sequential finger movements activated massive regions involved in thinking, language and working memory—the system for temporarily storing and managing information. And one recent study of hers demonstrated that in grades two, four and six, children wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard.”  2

Some other thoughts on handwriting, Recently I decided to get a fountain pen with the little cartages, if I am going to use a pen to paper I wanted to see the ink and feel the nib dragging across the paper. As the ink flows out and the pen turned, my letters dance and twist as line turned into words expressing my thoughts. Hitting keys on is such a different feeling and I must say,  it has  own sense of pleasure but it is just different. I am not arguing that one is better then the other, I just wonder what is lost and what would happen if we stop teach cursive writing. I think of it like this, as long as people can hand write, we should keep this in our schools and children should learn how to join up there letters. You never know they may need to read a letter from their Grandparents.

As others have said it is just to early to tell, more studies should be done before we give up teaching children how to write.

Holding a letter in my hand rereading the words I learn new things and seeing the marks made by my Grandmother letter gives me great comfort, I love to open the envelope and looking at the stamp it feels like I have sat and visited with her for a while.  Handwriting is unique  it is so different then typed words and give me so much more of a feel of how she lived, her age, her mood, health, style and education. This you could never get from an email, however; If my grandparent had email, they might have sent me a photo or a video and you could argue that a video would give me more information about someones life.

I will continue to use both my pen and my laptop, writing a letter to a friend or relative shows you care and you took time out from your everyday to think about someone and send them a bit of your self , your marks, your love.

1 The Guardian Weekly  By Anne Chemin http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/16/cognitive-benefits-handwriting-decline-typing?CMP=share_btn_link

2  Bounds, Gwendolyn. “How Handwriting Trains the Brain.” Wall Street Journal. Accessed 1 Oct 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704631504575531932754922518.html

Other references:

Article by Cindy May Scientificamerican