I have a deep love of fountain pens. I’m not a collector. But since I was a little kid watching my mom making out her bills with a gray Esterbrook pen, I’ve been fascinated.
There’s that arcane complexity of the nib. That satisfying rock of the ink lever or the swivel of the converter. Or the ink! So many different colors and styles of ink, from jet Japanese to incredible iridescences. And I love what it does to my penmanship—turning it from coarse hen scratches to a rather elegant dash.
I’ve written about handwriting before, in my essay Step Away From They Keyboard: How Our Hands Affect Our Brains. In that piece, I made three key points.
In addition, I would argue that learning cursive has other advantages. It gives you an additional arrow in your quiver of communication tools. Writing a condolence note? You can send an email, sign a printed card, or hand-write a letter.
Cursive allows you to read handwritten notes from older people or those from other countries who will often write in cursive. In addition, it allows you to access historical materials. Reading the lab notebooks of famous psychologists in their original handwriting provide a visceral connection that reading typed notes just does not. (Jung's black notebooks were not typed!)
I'm Not Alone
It turns out I'm not alone in enjoying writing by hand. Take out your fountain pen and you'll find a small group of fellow eccentrics who will happily engage in an intense discussion of nib styles, barrel shapes, and inks.
And notebooks! Quad rule, dots, size, paper absorption...Everyone has their own gig. Start to write by hand and suddenly you'll fine yourself among a crowd of eccentric individualists. Handwriting, after all, is unique.
Why You Want To Learn
Even if you're not impressed with the artistry of beautiful hand, good functional handwriting is an essential skill.
How To Get Better
Good writing is a small motor skill that requires practice. It also probably requires unlearning some of the things that are impeding the good handwriting you may have been taught.
There are two essentials to clear handwriting:
The most important thing though is to practice. It's like playing the violin or learning to hit a baseball. If you haven't done it for a while, you need to get yourself up to speed again before it starts looking good.
Want some help? A very nice blog on improving your handwriting with a great practice sheet is available here.