In an effort to use both pen and paper supplies this month AND get into a regular habit of writing and drawing, I started participating in the Rock Your Handwriting Challenge started by BohoBerry and her compatriots. This is the second month of the challenge and many people I know are doing both this month’s prompts and the previous month’s or choosing the prompt they like best. I didn’t mention it at the beginning of the month because I was a bit concerned that like so many other challenges, I might flake out after three or four days. But, lo and behold, I’m on Day 19 and still going strong!
I decided to set the bar for the challenge very low, using just a Field Notes and whatever pen or pencil I had handy to compete the challenge for the day. I would use whatever 20 or 15 minute of time I could find to do the practice and I was amazed how much I started to look forward to a chance to doodle my little rectangle of lettering.
The challenge is designed to help get some much-needed penmanship practice in each day and, for me, a chance to do something creative that is not for anyone but me. I’ve been sharing my pages on Instagram and some are better than others but I felt it was fair to show when things worked and when they didn’t — even when I misspelled something!
The best thing about this challenge is that is has re-ignited my desire to make more art the way it has recharged other people to write more in their journals or just write more in general. So if you’re looking for a way to help get you back into a regular habit of putting pen to paper, than maybe just practicing your handwriting is a good place to start. After writing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” you might just want to write a story about that fox or draw a picture of them and off you go!
The recent article on the New York Times entitled What’s Lost As Handwriting Fades is too good to wait until the end of the week for a Link Love so I decided to go ahead an post the link today. Once again, scientists are coming up with studies proving that there’s some tricky cognitive stuff that goes on when we write things by hand and there is even some data that different parts of the brain are triggered depending on whether its printing or script (cursive) writing.
NPR recently did a report about the value of cursive in child’s brain development. By their best calculations, all fine motor skill activities are valuable to brain development, be it printing, cursive or keyboarding. But the best option is for kids to be doing all sorts of fine motor activities.
This story, however, does not address the issue of legibility, speed of writing or not writing like a 6-year-old when you’re forty.
When I asked the librarians if they would mind if I took one of the pencils to commemorate my visit, they held up a jar so that I could pick a “nice one.”
I visited the Book Arts & Special Collections to see calligraphy and original typography designs. Since a lot of the material is rare, original drawings or small run prints, there were signs everywhere, written in beautiful script, reminding visitors to use pencils only.
Even the folders and folios were beautifully handwritten in pencil. This folder was filled with hand lettering created by the head of the font group at Hallmark, Rick Cusick. Sadly, I was asked not to photograph any of the original work so this is as close as I can show you.
Lots of people put pen (or pencil) to paper yesterday in celebration and support of National Handwriting Day. Did you? If not, that’s okay because in our little corner of the internet, everyday in Handwriting Day!
I hope everyone is having a day full of happy handwriting.If not, try handwriting your grocery list, copying down a favorite quote or poem or just jotting out a a few pangrams. If you do, leave a link in the comments so we can marvel at your penmanship — for better or worse.
Happy Handwriting Day!
In honor of Handwriting Day, I picked out my vintage penmanship shirt to wear today. Yep, I am that nerdy.
In preparation for National Handwriting Day, here’s a little advice from Donovan B. from the Letter Writers Alliance on the best way to improve your handwriting. Thursday is Handwriting Day so get your pens, pencils, brushes and crayon at the ready!
I stumbled upon this video from the inflammatory article published earlier this year about how much the presidential calligraphers earn each year. While they may make more money than most of us, the skills they have are unquestionable.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that I think this classic hand lettering skill should be preserved especially when its done for the President for State Dinners and other official events.I can’t imagine getting an invitation to dinner at the White House whipped out on someone’s ink jet printer, can you?
I spoke with a friend who works as a professional calligrapher (not at the White House) who said that the team that the team that work at the White House work under intense pressure, often having to letter 200+ place cards in a day or two for an official event. They also work with very strict expectations for the style of calligraphy they do. the whole office is staffed by one chief calligrapher and two deputy calligraphers — a total staff of three.
I think its worth whatever these folks are being paid. That being said, Politifact did their homework and the calligraphers salary is not so disproportionate to other staffers with uniquely specialized skills (the Social Secretary makes $118K).
In the video, you can see one of the calligraphers (a left-hander!) working on a certificate. He is a third generation White House employee. Watch the video for details.
Do you think the White House should continue to employ calligraphers?
The new American educational curriculum called the Common Core State Standards Initiative is being discussed in the news in part because cursive writing is no longer going to be required instruction. Handwriting instruction has been waning and many states have already chosen not to require it. A national chance in teaching strategies in the US will pretty much guarantee that the few remaining states teaching it, will abandon it as well.
I’m at a loss what to say. So much more is gained in learning penmanship beyond merely the skill to read and write the characters: motor skills, brain pathways, patience and so much more…
I won’t rant here, but there’s plenty of other people who have said it:
This week I watched a well-dressed, articulate co-worker scratch out some notes in her on-trend, black Moleskine with a G2. For all intents and purposes, her set-up rivals any of the pen and paper bloggers out there though she is not a pen geek. When I looked at the writing, I was shocked at how awkward and unrefined her writing was. I didn’t expect her to have text book-perfect handwriting but she is fashionable, intelligent lady and I had always assumed her penmanship would matched her outward appearance. Instead, her writing made me wonder if she was a serial killer.
My handwriting is not as neat as it could be and seeing her writing makes me think I should continue to focus on improving my writing. In this day and age where emails and text messages are the most common means of communication, handwriting can still color your perception. Or worse, could color someone else’s perception about you. I don’t think its a good career move to have handwriting that makes you look dangerous or unbalanced. Unless that’s the look you are going for.
In the September 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living, there was an article title “Is Handwriting Becoming Extinct?” written by Joanne Chen. The article dives more deeply into the psychological, brain development and creative benefits of writing than I would normally expect from a newsstand magazine usually focused on home decor and recipes. It discusses several scientific studies that researched the advantages of writing on cognitive development, memory and comprehension.
What we here all know, that writing helps us think, organize and remember (“I’m writing it down to remember it now”), is clearly a scientifically proven fact, one that we should help to nurture in ourselves and in others. Digital doesn’t solve everything and might be making up even more forgetful.
I would love to share a link to the article but I could not find it on the Martha Stewart web site. Maybe when the October issue is published, they will post the article on their site. In the meantime, the September issue is on newsstands (the article is on page 158) as well as being available from the iTunes newsstand for $3.99. The issue is the How-To edition with lots of organizational tips which might appeal to you as well.
About every few months, someone publishes a story about the death of handwriting or some variation on this theme. Today’s grim reaper is the BBC with a video article about North Carolina Congresswoman Pat Hurley, who is drafting a bill to mandate handwriting be taught in primary school. A professor of linguistics provides counterpoint describing handwriting as “nostalgic”.
The whole video raised my hackles especially because neither camp mentioned the hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills that are developed as a result of writing. Not to mention that handwriting in the joined-up version helps to speed up writing so that students (and later adults) can more quickly capture thoughts and ideas on paper.
On the whole, I think the story was a bit of sensationalist, shoddy journalism and I’m going to be all grr-argh! for the rest of the day as a result.
Today is National Handwriting Day, at least here in the US, though I don’t think too many people celebrate it with as much fanfare and enthusiasm as I do.
The date of January 23 was selected because it is also the birthday of John Hancock, best known for his legible-but-large signature on the US Declaration of Independence. So, in spite of continued cutbacks in funding for teaching handwriting in schools in the US, I still want to recognize the day with much fanfare and ballyhoo.
I went in search of handwritten examples of Handwriting Day enthusiasm and found some fun examples from friends old and new. I also enlisted the help of some of my more talented co-workers.
According to WTVY in Dothan, AL it is also Pie Day (according to the Pie Council — who knew we even had one) and Measure Your Feet Day. Now you know.
Lloyd Reynold’s recorded twenty 30-minute instructional videos in 1968 and again eight years later in color to demonstrate and instruct on italic calligraphy and handwriting. At the 5-minute mark of the first episode, the demonstrations begin. Its a little slow but its over 8.5 hours of free calligraphy lessons, if its something you are interested in learning.
When is a signature not a signature? According to the Smithsonian, when the President of the United States needs to sign things, he employs an Autopen, a device that reproduces his signature with an actual pen. So, its his signature… but not.
The device is a descendant of a creation used as far back as the Jefferson White House, though Jefferson’s device served quite a different purpose.
My dear friend Wayne pulled this from his collection of ephemera to tickle my fancy. It is a very old edition of The Palmer Method of Business Writing, a technique taught well into the twentieth century, not just to would-be office workers but also to children in school.
“You cannot fail, if you study the instructions and follow them.” Words to live by, in writing and in life as well.