Why Handwriting Matters to Us - The Exclusive Interviews

Why Handwriting Matters to Us - The Exclusive Interviews

Why Handwriting Matters to Us - The Exclusive Interviews

Writing by hand is a deeply personal act and means different things to different people. As part of our Handwriting Matters campaign, Pen Heaven spoke to various authors, artists, journalists, teachers, celebrities about why handwriting mattered to them. Author, screenwriter and video game designer Jordan Mechner is best known for creating the highly successful game franchise Prince of Persia, which he later helped adapt into a feature film. In 2013, his graphic novel Templar became a bestseller and was nominated for an Eisner award in 2014. He told Pen Heaven that writing by hand helps him to gather his thoughts. He said:  “I like to write first drafts longhand whenever possible. Composing directly on a screen might seem faster and more convenient, but it can suck me into editing and rewriting before I’ve even gotten my first thought out properly. “And seeing my words so perfectly formatted on the screen can give me the illusion that something is finished, or almost finished, when it's actually not nearly there. The extra effort required to write longhand makes me think harder before I write, whereas the temptation with a keyboard is to start typing before I have a clear idea of what I want to say.” [caption id="attachment_1369" align="alignleft" width="261"]Mary-Noble-for-web Mary Noble - Calligrapher[/caption] Calligrapher Mary Noble works on commission and teaches workshops across the country. She said she enjoys the tactile experience of putting pen to paper both as part of her work and in her normal daily life. She told Pen Heaven: “I'm always hoping that people will learn to love the act of writing in the way that I do. The satisfying tactile way a pen sinks into a fresh pad of paper, is a memory from childhood that stays with me. Once you settle in to writing, you get a rhythm that pulls you along so that it starts to become effortless. “As a calligrapher some people are shocked that I also use a ball-point, but on the right surface this pen glides effortlessly and I can develop other styles of writing. Thus I have 'shopping-list' (a scribble decipherable only to me) 'thinking on paper' (fairly neat but maybe wacky too) and 'want to impress' (self-explanatory, previously known as 'letter to mother-in-law' style). “Calligraphy stems from handwriting, but there's more attention to every mark you put down, what shape you make, how it relates to the other shapes so that it forms a cohesive whole. It's a tactile experience at the same time as a visual challenge, and the only way to get better at it is to do it a lot! I do get through a lot of paper.” Dylan Jones, Senior Editor at GQ magazine, told us, "I spend my life on my Vertu or my iPad, although I haves to say nothing quite beats scribbling away with my pen. I can write for hours and hours in longhand, and the physical sensation of writing actually has a huge bearing on what I actually write. All power to the pen!" Melina Keays, Entertainment Editor, Wallpaper "I write with a fountain pen as much as possible. There is a sensual pleasure to be enjoyed when forming the shapes of letters and words by hand. The act of writing with a beautiful pen is a satisfying discipline - an act of creation in itself, to which writing with a keyboard bears no comparison." [caption id="attachment_1366" align="alignleft" width="254"]Alex-Preston-for-blog Alex Preston - Author and Journalist[/caption] Author Alex Preston is an award-winning author and journalist, who teaches Creative Writing at the University of Kent. He wrote his most recent novel In Love and War entirely by hand using a pen and notebook, which he says helped the creative process. He told Pen Heaven: “Writing my latest novel, In Love and War, by hand was a revelation for me. Not only did it feel somehow false to be writing a book set in 1930s Florence on a MacBook Air, I found that writing by hand made me feel a level closer to the source of my art, my inspiration. It felt more like a craft, less like the abstract heaping of words on a pulsing white screen. “It took a little longer, but seemed somehow more authentic and enabled me to trace the evolution of the novel through the crossings out and the blind alleys. The dozen or so notebooks full of my drafts of the novel are a wonderful record of the growth of the book from an inchoate idea to the finished product. One of the first bits of advice I give my students at the University of Kent when they’re struggling with their writing is to pick up a pen and enjoy the leisurely beauty of writing by hand. It worked for Shakespeare.” [caption id="attachment_1367" align="alignleft" width="253"]frank-barratt-for-blog Frank Barratt Headteacher[/caption] Headteacher Frank Barratt believes handwriting is a vital skill for children. He has worked hard to improve writing at St John Fisher Primary, a Catholic Voluntary Academy in Sheffield. He said: “I believe handwriting is an important life skill. Focusing on the mechanics from an early age is important for dexterity and the development of fine motor skills. Enabling children to write neatly, legibly and at speed empowers them to attain at a higher level. Actually writing something also brings a child 'closer' to what is written, physically.  “Writing also creates an emotional connection between the child and what he/she has written that is simply not there when it is typed. A child also feels a greater sense of pride and achievement and there is a greater commitment to what has been written. This connection both generates and supports a positive view of writing in the mind and heart of the child, which is also a long-term aim.” Aidan Radnedge, Chief Reporter, Metro UK “As a journalist who depends every day on scrawling down shorthand notes, pens remain essential - the more reliable and comfortable the better. Normal handwriting then becomes more of a relief and a pleasure, as well as remaining an instinct - even if it now looks a little less elegant than it used to. Blame the after-effects of scribbling so much shorthand...” Melanie-Davies-for-blogMelanie Davies has worked as a calligrapher for more than 20 years. She told Pen Heaven she has loved every minute of her career, which has included everything from hand scribing family trees and ceremonial manuscripts to producing personalised stationery and writing onto wood, stone, glass and calf skin. She said: “Some might say that calligraphy is a dying art, but as long as people continue to be creative, there will always be a place for bespoke hand lettering. In my mind, calligraphy (from Greek ‘beautiful writing’) can never be replaced by the mechanical attempts of a computer. There is something very unique about the flourish of a pen.  “I’m dyslexic, so handwriting had always been somewhat of a challenge. I found that perfecting my handwriting and learning the art of calligraphy helped to re-train my brain by imagining each letter as a 'sound picture’. Unfortunately, the fast pace at which we live, work, and learn dictates a need to rush any handwriting that remains a part of our day-to-day life. It seems that fewer and fewer people have a ‘good hand’ these days. Many people now turn to calligraphy to correct the wrongs of poor handwriting, as it encourages concentration and writing at a slower pace.” Toni Tran, Founder, Fashitects “Writing in a journal has more heart and thought that is more personal on a meaningful level, than communicating on your social applications. Technology moves so fast, that we are lost in the news feeds of scrolling.” Yasmin Robert, Blogger, Dress With Yas "Pen has one advantage that technology will never have: personality. In a world that is constantly moving and growing, we are looking for something personal that touches us in one way or another. Pen reveals someone's core and authentic identity." Michelle Perrett, Freelance Journalist "Great stories and ideas can come at the most inconvenient times. As a journalist, I don't always have time to dig out a laptop, tablet or smartphone - sometimes all I have is a piece of paper and a pen. It's especially important when interviewing someone; you want your subject relaxed and open, something that wouldn't happen if you were sitting there typing away or staring at your phone." Lesley Foottit, Sub-Editor at British Baker "It is shocking that the average adult can go six weeks without actually touching pen to paper, so much has technology taken over our lives. People can use their smartphone or laptops to make lists, send digital birthday cards and take notes in college - but it has been proven that this could be detrimental, particularly when it comes to note-taking. Recording information with pen or pencil improves memory and the ability to understand and retain subjects. And, as a journalist, what happens when your laptop or smartphone dies and you find yourself in the modern-day dilemma of being without a charger? You can trust your own pen and paper in a way that technology will never match." Why does handwriting matter to you? Let us know by commenting below or join the debate on Twitter #handwritingmatters