Fitz posted something about handwriting, and linked to somewhere else. Well, now I can’t find his post about it. Oh well.
[UPDATE: No wonder I couldn’t find it. It was JDD, not Fitz.]
Anyways, the gist of it was that, now that we spend 10 hours a day typing, none of us know how to handwrite anything any more.
The funny thing is that just a couple of months ago, if I were to try to hand write a page of anything, by the end of it my hands would be cramped and sore, and every word would be indecipherable.
However, I spent the last 2 hours writing, and my hand isn’t even a little bit sore. What’s the trick? Well, there’s several things.
The obvious one is practice. Until just a few months ago, I hadn’t hand written anything of any significant length for months, perhaps years. When I was growing up, going to a British boarding school, we had to write letters home, long essays, papers, not to mention writing “I will not mock the English royalty” 500 times. But now that I have a computer within reach at any moment of the day or night, there’s little need to hand write anything. And when I do handwrite anything, I then end up typing it in later on.
But lately, I’ve started hand writing stuff, for a number of reasons. Somehow, now that I’ve taken up writing poetry, it just seems to work better when I hand write it. And so, gradually, I’ve gotten back into practice.
The second thing is almost as obvious, and it’s the choice of pen. It’s no wonder people get hand cramps when they write with anything as wretched as the majority of pens that are available in this country. I have found a grand total of ONE store in Lexington that carries decent pens. And since nobody uses real pens any more, they are considered a luxury item, and are therefore grossly overpriced.
There are several other stores that carry fountain pens of some description, but they are primarily carried as art items, and tend to come in calligraphy sets. And some of the office supply stores carry pens that you would buy in order to impress your rich friends, but that you’d never actually write with. Most of these are in the $300 and up range.
My current pen is a Lamy Black, which isn’t a hugely expensive pen, but also isn’t exactly a $5-for-a-six-pack pen either. However, the difference in the pleasure of writing between this and the other fountain pens I have is enormous.
Most of my other pens are Sheaffers, and have come from the afore-mentioned calligraphy sets. You can get a Sheaffer for about $7 at your local art supply store, and they are nice pens.
The big difference between the Sheaffer and the Lamy is that the Lamy nib is so much smoother – it glides around on the paper, rather than scratching. This makes writing much less painful in the long run – a scratchy pen tends to make the hand cramp up pretty fast.
And third, there’s the paper. I wouldn’t have believed this without trying it. I mean, paper is paper, right? But the difference between writing in my Moleskines and writing on a mead legal pad is unquestionably noticeable. I can’t exactly quantify it, but the paper that Moleskine uses makes for writing that is smoother and less of a chore.
And as a result of these various things, I’ve started writing more and more, and enjoying it more, and my writing has started looking better. I’ll bet my highschool teachers wouldn’t believe it.
I might even jump in and participate in the handwriting meme that has been going around of late.