You know who had beautiful handwriting?
I’m serious – check out all of the examples of notes that he sent to people. A lot of them popped up immediately after he died. Even Suzanne Vega posted one. His handwriting was gorgeous.
Now, I’m not saying that Prince’s handwriting has inspired me to work on my own handwriting. Mostly because I’ve been practicing it on and off for a while now. But, in the way great works often are, Prince’s handwriting honestly was totally re-inspirational.
There’s a certain pleasure in ink and pen, in paper and the tangible nature of it all. If that pleasure doesn’t exist for you, that’s cool, too, but it does for me. And more than pleasure, there’s a direct connection to the way I tell stories that I didn’t actually expect to find – that I didn’t even realize until quite recently.
I know cursive has fallen out of favor as an emphasis on keyboard skills has (rightfully) increased. We type so many things and it’s important to know how to do that quickly and accurately. But when I make myself slow down and find the rhythm of handwriting, especially more ornamental penmanship, what I find is that I’ve developed a really powerful tool for navigating a path through a tangle of thoughts. When I pick up a pen and force myself to write it all out slowly and deliberately, I give my brain time to consider the options ahead instead of rushing.
In that way, the handwriting practice becomes good writing practice, too.
Sure, sometimes this is frustrating as well. *laugh* I mean, if I have a hundred ideas swirling, I just need to capture them! But if I’m looking to capture nuance? Well, now my habit is to pull out a fountain pen and the little notebook that I carry everywhere.
I’ve got bullet journal-esque lists. I’ve also got pages of complex sentences written and rewritten until they mean just what I didn’t know I needed them to mean until I tried to write them down. (And the lists are a great opportunity for handwriting practice.)
My handwriting is improving with all the conscious effort. If I’m going to sit down an address an envelope these days, it’s going to be pretty as hell. But the new strategy to work out narrative issues is probably the best benefit.
Just to note: My default pen has become a Platinum Preppy – a totally cheap fountain pen that is easily refillable. I also use a lot of the lessons at the International Association of Master Penmen, Engravers, and Teachers of Handwriting website. And I’m in love with the Field Notes notebooks.
How’s your handwriting? Does writing stuff out longhand make a difference for you? If you try handwriting practice as a writing practice, I actually really want to hear about it!