Writing by hand: benefits, making it fun, when to use it

Mont Blanc Noblesse
It pains me to note that the Wall Street Journal reports that handwriting instruction is down to an hour a week in elementary school, but new research shows that writing by hand trains both young and old brains in critical functions. This gives me hope.

….The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development. It’s not just children who benefit. Adults studying new symbols, such as Chinese characters, might enhance recognition by writing the characters by hand, researchers say. Some physicians say handwriting could be a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age.

What, then, might a modern person do with a new or newly-re-developed skill of handwriting?

1. Make writing a pleasure: 

Get a fountain pen with a gold point. Back in the day, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift was a fountain pen — often Mont Blanc. As always, grandparents know best.
Why is this such a great gift? Summed up so clearly by Ron Rosenbaum in 1980 in Savvy  magazine that I had an almost perfect memory of it, he posits that the difference between writing with a ball point or any other pen and writing with a gold point fountain pen is like the difference between skating on a rug and skating on ice. He certainly persuaded me then, when a Mont Blanc Noblesse 14K gold point was $73. It was a lot then, but it was worth it for the pleasure of writing.
With an entry-level Mont Blanc in the mid-to high three digits from the factory,  a new one may be out of your range. Three options come to mind: (1) the ever-popular E-BAY, (2) with a bit of hand-eye coordination, you can put a Mont Blanc cartridge into a bic pen, or (3) you can go to a pen store and try out good quality roller pens. Feel the weight of the pen. Find pleasure in how smoothly the ink flows. Enjoy yourself.

2. Know when to write handwritten notes.

The always helpful and correct Culture and Manners Institute’s regular email addresses the burning issues of our time — the ones that are on the back burner until someone makes a mistake and the pot boils over in sad or embarrassing ways.

When sending letters by mail (postal, not the celebrated e-kind), it is good to know when to type and when to write by hand.  Here are some guidelines:

Business correspondence Thank you notes for interviews or contracts
Hand-write (use dark blue or black ink):
Thank you notes for gifts and other acts of kindness
Replies to formal invitations
Condolence letters
Expressions of love
Do not use business letterhead for personal correspondence that might be misconstrued as coming from the company, such as a letter to the editor, an endorsement of a political candidate or letter of complaint.
I am delighted to give credit to the Culture and Manners Institute at http://www.cultureandmanners.com/

About susangainen

Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian. Abstract Painter. Writer. Teacher. Explorer.
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