I Blame Technology

My handwriting is atrocious. This dates back to elementary school, and it crosses all styles, from the cursive they tried to teach me and that I tried to practice into high school, to the regular mixed-case print I painfully adopt when filling out paperwork, to the all-cap scrawl I picked up working in radio when it was a convention.

And yet I do most of my note-taking by hand. I find it helps me to retain things in memory better. I usually transcribe the important notes to a Notepad file when I have spare time, but the written word just stick better with me.

But at best, unless I’m being very careful – as in, just about doing calligraphy (which, by the way, I’m pretty good at), my handwriting is barely legible even to me.

This article – along with a fascinating explication of the history of the modern pen – explains why. It’s the damn ballpoint.

Which might at least impart explain why I almost always use Paper Mate “Flair” felt-tip pens for my note taking – for the best combination of speed and low stress on my hand.

12 thoughts on “I Blame Technology

  1. Well, Mitch, if your penmanship is really that bad, you missed your calling. I believe that trait is a prerequisite for a doctor.!

  2. So, MBerg, unlike every other kid in the world, you did your elemetary school handwriting exercises with a pen instead of a pencil?
    This is a crappy post full of poorly researched lies. I give it 7 thumbs-down pinnochios! Try harder next time, hmm?

  3. Since email, nobody will ever learn how to write. Except maybe the Amish, however, I called an Amish guy on his cell phone a couple of days ago.

  4. Excellent article, Mitch. I happen to write with a fountain pen – and am still very much illegible, LOL. But I do indeed find that it is easier to write in cursive than in block letters with a fountain pen. Maybe because I am too lazy to lift the pen clear of the paper? Also, you need better, higher density paper for writing with a fountain pen or else your ink will go right through.

  5. My handwriting has always been bad (which grieves my mother, who’s cursive is gorgeous even at age 84). When my life involved a lot of note-taking (projects at work, key points from sermons at church, etc.) I tried to keep it somewhat legible, at least to myself. My wife always said that I write in tongues, however. My hand just can’t keep up with my brain.

    Since the iPad and Evernote, though, I type notes wherever I go. And now, when I do have to write something by hand…well, it’s not pretty.

  6. Night
    My mother and father had good penmanship, but, despite my mother’s desperate attempts, three of her children, which includes me, write legibly. My two brothers and youngest sister, have such poor writing skills that sometimes they can’t even read it.

  7. I, too, have bad writing skills. Shortly after I graduated HS, I switched to all caps printing, with letters that should be capitalized being just larger than the rest of the letters. That helped, but as I got older and wrote less and less (typed more and more), even my all-caps is pretty bad. Plus, due to shoulder injuries and the resultant lowering of range-of-motion, sitting at the wrong angle or the writing surface being the wrong height compared to my torso can make it even worse.

    I have a friend who has amazing art talent and muscular control. He can freehand technical illustrations that look like they came out of a laser jet printer. He also can draw portraits that almost look like a photograph (http//i.imgur.com/Wtigxj9.jog). When he was in 2nd grade, his teacher told his parents in conferences that he was making the number 4 incorrectly Most people draw down, then right, then lift the pen/pencil and make another vertical line intersecting the horizontal. He was starting at the bottom, drawing up, then diagonally down to the left, then horizontal to the right. His dad’s response? “So? He writes a helluva lot neater than you, or I, or most adults I know.”

  8. I always have trouble writing well, but I (like JPA) find that the fountain pen is very helpful because if you don’t hold it right, it doesn’t write at all. Pencils and ballpoints are not so picky. My biggest difficulty in handwriting is that I am a lefty taught by righties who didn’t realize that if they sat in front of me with a pen, I could see exactly how to hold it. I guess this is something to do with the reality that the teachers had 25-30 students in the classroom and didn’t have time to do this kind of thing.

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