The rediscovery of an ancient practice
Many will have rejoiced with the advent of the typewriter, first, and the personal computer, later, because, as we know, typing or writing with a keyboard greatly reduces time and effort. Yet this style of writing does not provide the same level of fascination as handwriting does.
Today, more and more people are in fact re-evaluating using pen and paper both to crystalise their thoughts but also because of the numerous advantages writing by hand has for the brain. In the age of computers, tablets and smartphones, it is important to return to the excitement of ink gliding over rough paper and rediscover this old-fashioned practice.
A taste for beauty
Until the middle of the last century, calligraphy was a school subject just like any other. The aim was not just to learn how to write by hand, but to learn how to write well. As the fountain pen filled the page, pupils were taught the aesthetic canons of beauty as a synonym of attention and care not only towards oneself, but also towards those who would read the words on the page. Whole notebooks were filled with cursive script, which, with its curlicues and sinuous strokes, is a symbol of elegance and harmony.
Nowadays, however, with standardised and pre-set criteria of word processing programmes, with their justified margins and paragraph indents that are always exact, order seems to prevail over style and beauty. Even the eye of the reader has become accustomed to the perfection of the printed page that doesn’t have space for the usual irregularities of handwriting. There seems to be a desire to nullify the possibility of imperfection even though it is what unites us and makes us human. The taste for the handmade, which brings an undeniable added value compared to mechanically mass-produced work, is often forgotten in the name of precision. If we are to maintain our humanity, is it not essential to enhance and preserve activities such as writing by hand since they reveal so much about who we are?
The pleasure of an emotion
Resorting to pen and paper, which could seem like a simple gesture, conceals a veritable ritual that goes from selecting the thickness and texture of the paper to the choice of pen and ink. Listening to the unmistakable melody of the steel nib as it glides swiftly over the page and leaves not only ink marks, but emotions and thoughts, provides unique tactile sensations that a keyboard can never replicate.
Even though there are all kinds of types of handwriting, more or less beautiful, legible and incomprehensible, any handwritten text has a charm all of its own. Not only does it generate emotion in the writer, but also in the reader, especially if the sender and addressee are united by an emotional bond. For example, the handwriting of a loved one has the same power as their voice: even before we start reading the text, we recognise them through their strokes and travel back to the most beautiful moments shared together. Printed text, on the other hand, would never be able to convey these memories.
The perfect handwriting
While we have always been taught since our school days to attach importance to the content of our essays, we must not neglect their form either. What you write is therefore as important as how you write it. In spite of the massive presence of technology in our lives, which has now even replaced the keyboard with voice command, there are in fact numerous handwriting enthusiasts who choose to attend calligraphy courses so that they can learn how to create real masterpieces with a fountain pen or a nib. If the writing instrument is as beautiful as a Visconti, it can encourage the writer’s creativity all the more. Even the most mundane shopping list has the potential to become a work of art if written in the unmistakable and refined Italic cursive stroke. Through calligraphy, it is possible to acquire new techniques to enrich the basic skills learnt at an early age and write letters or create pictures that are sure to make the people around us happy.
We are all better off with handwriting
In addition to the considerable emotional impact and pleasure of beautiful handwriting, writing by hand brings numerous benefits to the learning and attention span and also helps the brain stay healthy and active. In fact, it is an excellent cognitive exercise that promotes coordination and acts against brain aging. Motor skills and memory can thus be sharpened.
While it is therefore important for the elderly to keep their minds active, writing by hand is also extremely valuable for young children, as it allows them to develop motor skills and thinking processes. By learning to write well, children learn to perform and manage several actions at once, such as finger movement and paying attention to what and how one writes.
Finally, writing by hand can even have therapeutic powers. Jotting down one’s thoughts and worries allows us to unburden ourselves and banish problems or fears. A simple but very effective method that makes us feel better immediately, by transferring to the paper all the negative feelings that we too often tend to repress within ourselves. By doing so, it is possible to have a new and different perspective on what is happening in our lives, with the right amount of detachment, experience feelings of well-being and satisfaction.
In this age where everything runs at the speed of light, we tend to avoid those more introspective activities that force us to reflect and think. In this context, pen and paper risk disappearing in favour of faster and more immediate ways of writing. However, it is important to bear in mind the valuable benefits that writing by hand can bring: whether it be due to a natural inclination towards beauty or the tangible positive effects on our brain, writing by hand is always a good idea!