Hello Reader, Valentine’s Day always signals a good reason to put your pen to paper. And having your message clear and legible will help the recipient know who is playing Cupid.
Did you know? In former times, when a man was wooing a young lady, the quality of his penmanship determined whether he even had a chance. The girl’s dad was the judge in this contest. “…The way a man wrote was more important than what he wrote. Many a young girl’s father rejected potential suitors and would not give consent to the marriage if the young man’s love letters lacked the proper number of flourishes and scrolls.” (Mushy. p.94)
Now there’s a good argument for keeping cursive alive.
Penmanship is listed in 100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet. Pamela Paul argues, “While some see handwriting as antiquated, there are benefits to forming legible sentences by hand and not just for the development of fine motor skills. Studies show the a connection between linked letters of cursive writing and spelling proficiency. Other studies show that cursive prepares the brain for reading and writing compositions. People demonstrably learn more when they put pencil to paper than when they swipe a screen. In 2019, after Baltimore County implemented a 1-to-1 laptop per student program, with textbooks, paper, pencils, and pens disappearing from the classroom, grades dropped across the board. A 2012 study of the brain scans of young children as they typed letters, traced them and wrote them freehand found that only when children handwrote letters did the scans show the same activity in the brain that activate when adults engage in reading and writing. Kids both absorb and retain information better while writing by hand than they do when tapping on a screen. There’s a reason you were told to “write this down carefully.” Writing things down was how we learned. “(100 Things…p. 199-200)
I like the thought of handwriting as a holdout for being human. Yes, the messy scribble is definitely human. So much, too much of our culture has to do with sterile uniformity. And when you review the organic pluses for writing by hand, better recall and notetaking, why not rebel a little and keep a skill that supports your humanity
You can think of it as an artform. There are ways to immediately improve the look of your script. One is to keep a uniform slant. The concept is to focus on the line that extends from the heart to the hand. Sit with a comfortable posture with your arm supported on the table. Find a pen that feels good in your hand. Let the movement of your hand across the page come from your larger muscles. Relax your grip on the pen. Keep your letterforms consistent. Close the “o” and the “a.” Dot the “i” and cross the “t,” as we say. Slow down, breathe. And now you are ready to write someone a Valentine.
Graham-Barber, Lynda. Mushy! The Complete Book of Valentine Words. Avon Books. New York. 1991.
Paul, Pamela. 100 Things We’ve Lost To The Internet. Crown. New York. 2021.