Writing by Hand

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Handwritten.”

Very recently I wrote an entire trip journal by hand! It took a great deal of perseverance and a few late nights so I could finish that day’s journal before forgetting something by the next day!  Since I was on a cruise, and paying for Internet on board was very expensive, I had no choice.  On past trips abroad, I’d go to an Internet cafe and write my journal in a long email to family and friends every couple of days. The cost was at most equivalent to a couple of dollars each time.

The way I kept it up on the cruise was to take handwritten notes, although a few of the days I didn’t bring my journal and used note taking software on my phone instead. Then I would put those together, along with the pictures I’d taken, to complete an accurate entry about each day.

I found that my hand got cramped when I was writing all of it longhand, and that I would write some words with too many double letters or leave out letters. That was OK, as long as I could read it when I got home! I also had to correct some of the sentences, which I had written incorrectly or incoherently!

I do much better writing on a computer. However, I have read studies that show that when we write by hand, the information we are writing sticks in our minds better. College students who bring their laptops to class for note-taking retain less of what they have written than those who take notes by hand.

In addition, I have read at least one study showing that dyslexic children should be taught to write in cursive, because somehow attaching the letters together helps them keep the order of the letters straight. I tutored two kids this summer who had dyslexic tendencies, and part of the curriculum was teaching them to write cursive letters and words. They were going into third grade, which is a good time for them to start learning this; developmentally, 8 year olds have the fine motor skills to learn cursive. These two complained about it, but they did it and improved each time!

I know I’ve gone off on a tangent here, veering into why handwriting should still be taught (that’s the former teacher in me!), but that said, as an older adult I do find it difficult to write a lot of text by hand because I seem to be losing a little of my fine motor control.

For me, it makes more sense in general to write on a computer. I consider myself a writer and so I want to make my writing as good as I can.  Dashing off emails to family and friends about my trips is fine, but I tend to run off into too many tangents. If I take the time to write what I want, then read it over and edit, my writing is much better. That is what I’ve done in transcribing my journals of my Baltic Sea cruise to make them more concise and focused, while at the same time keeping in the things that make the writing interesting. I think if I had lived a century ago and had had to write and edit everything by hand, I’d have given up by now!!

My only disappointment is that, while normally my travel journals are the most popular subject I blog about, this time I have not gotten a lot of hits or “likes.” So whoever is reading this out in blogland, please take the time and read my blog entries about the places I visited. I promise you’ll find them interesting!!

Sunrise over the Baltic Sea
Sunrise over the Baltic Sea

3 thoughts on “Writing by Hand

  1. Excellent post! Really interesting facts about handwriting improving memory and dyslexia, I didn’t know that. Your holiday journal sounds like something you’ll get to read back and treasure too. 🙂

    1. Thanks, KL. Yes, cursive can be an art and some people have beautiful handwriting – not me, though!! I think teachers feel there isn’t enough time to teach it and the kids are learning to type on the computer anyway, so why bother.

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