So goes the title of Anne Trubek’s recent opinion piece in the New York Times (found here). In it, she makes the case for the end of cursive (which many have been debating for years), the lack of need for handwriting in general, and she attempts to take reassurance for handwriting’s demise from the more “simple” aesthetic influences it provides (as opposed to the more “complex” necessary characteristics).
Certainly, Trubek is entitled to her thoughts, research, and rationale. And, in some buckets that parse the thoughts in my brain, she is right (at least in some respects). I don’t fully understand the rationale for teaching cursive as a “graded” segment of learning (my cursive, and penmanship in general, are pretty horrible), and I find writing digitally much more efficient, and certainly more universally legible to others (though I implore you not to write in Wingdings).
However, unlike Trubek, I see the value brought on by writing by hand as much more than aesthetic. In fact, I recently returned to a handwritten journal because I felt my mind, and body, needed to do so.
For me, it is like this: When I write digitally, like I’m writing now, thoughts spill out of my mind like a leaky faucet. What lands on the digital page is whatever I can catch in the split second before more words appear. Thankfully, I’m a quick typist, and (usually) my thoughts make sense when they enter the digital document space.
What is missing from my digital writing, however, is deep reflection. Sure, I’m reflecting on my learning now, but only because I’ve forced myself to think about it prior, and only because, in the case of this blog post anyway, I’ve written about it by hand previously. My return to an analog journal was due to reasons that Turbek conveniently ignores (or, maybe more likely, just doesn’t see as being relevant). In my case, the act of writing by hand builds deeper connections between my mind and my actions. My fingers move across a keyboard almost without thought. For me, writing by hand is more difficult, more time-consuming, and also, more thought-intensive. By that nature alone, my hand-writing forces me to be more reflective.
My analog journal (I’m experimenting with a process called “Bullet Journaling”) has helped me to not only better organize my life (okay, to be fair, only the past two months), but has also forced me to think more as I’m considering ideas.
I don’t think I’ll ever return to a truly analog-writing lifestyle. I’m too dependent on digital tools and find that writing digitally is much faster, and much easier,. for me. But, I do value the importance of reflection, and the time it takes to do that. Therefore, I look forward to living in a hybrid world, where both digital fonts and written ones coexist side-by-side, providing me with both efficiency and deep thought.