Beating the Handwriting Woes

In this modern era, we seem to have delegated a large chunk of our writing chores to computers, tablets and mobiles. They are so efficient and handy that we are tempted to put our writing instruments (pens/pencils) tucked away in the safety of their pen holders alone. But is that fair, desirable? Aren’t we making ourselves too mechanical and dependent on machines? If we ignore the font preferences, don’t we all look alike when it comes to handwriting? Our handwriting, in fact, is supposed to be our identifying feature. That mark of individuality seems to be at stake now.

Well, in material terms, it hardly matters. With our writing gadgets, we are better equipped to undertake our writing jobs. But sometimes, somewhere, one would crave being a bit human, personal, manual, shunning away the zooming pace of life. Don’t forget, some of our greatest writings were produced when nobody had heard the names of the modern writing tools.

Handwriting is, in fact, a mirror of one’s personality. It reflects what kind of a person one is. That is revealed by the way one writes each letter in the script. Clarity of letters, their size and proportion, spacing between letters and words – all indicate one feature of the personality or the other. Handwriting thus showcases one’s inner self in an obvious manner. It reflects a person who takes things seriously, and pays attention to the minutest detail. A good handwriting is compared to a string of pearls and sets it’s writer apart from others.

That is not all. Today, handwriting has become quite a serious, scientific subject. Perhaps you know, calligraphy refers to a scientific study of handwriting. Through handwriting analysis, experts are also able to predict about one’s destiny. So by keeping a good handwriting, one can indirectly contribute to one’s own destiny even.

That brings us to the question, where do we acquire our handwriting from? The obvious answer seems, at school, the moment a kid learns to scribble the newly picked alphabets, single words and short sentences, our initiation to handwriting takes place. A child gets home work to fill up pages with the letters exactly as the teacher wrote in the first line. Each task done well is a reward in itself. Sincere efforts fetch the students teacher’s remarks, like, good/very good. Encouraged by the remarks and parents’ jubilation, kids strive to collect as many ‘goods’ as they can, and the handwriting keeps improving automatically. Once that happens, it gradually becomes a distinguishing feature of the girl/boy that goes up till the end.

When I was at school, Ramkrishna Mission, Kanpur, (India), we had to follow certain rules/directives in order to improve our handwriting. That was just about five decades ago. Ball point pens were yet to arrive on the scene. Fountain pens were taboo up to 8th. class. There were holders (nib-less pens) with a slot to fix a nib which had to be dipped in an ink pot (built in) at the right corner of the desk. There were different nibs for English (G nib) and Hindi scripts. In addition, there was a ‘kalam’ made from dry stem of some cane like plant. It had to be scraped with a knife or blade to give it a writing tip. The ‘kalam’ had a thicker tip as compared to the holder and was used to write headlines to make them look highlighted. Must seem pretty tardy and funny to the kids today, but like other tales, the tale of handwriting too would make an interesting read. And yes, quite often after the recess, the leftover ink in the pots was delightfully exhausted by frolicsome students to put blue designs on their mates’ white shirts. Holi was a special occasion for such creative pursuits.

Needless to say, anyone passing through such rigorous training had a visible advantage as compared to those who missed it. My handwriting remained fine enough all through my student days and even after. But coming to the middle age, I noticed a slight decline, the letters getting slightly wavy, rather wayward. I discovered with concern that my writing fingers were getting a bit stiff and shaky while writing. I was worried also because my father, an English professor and writer of repute, was already suffering from shaky fingers quite severely. He would usually take too long to sign a single cheque, and often would spoil a couple during the process. He once revealed to me that he had Parkinson’s disease ever since his younger days. But then it was mild and did not handicap him noticeably. Being his only son to join his profession, I happened to gradually inherit his pen too. He would often pass his writing assignments, which he did not want to do himself, over to me

Now, with signs of decline in my handwriting, I got slightly alarmed of that particular inheritance. But I did not panic. Instead, I said to myself, ‘Fear not – face up!’

I tried to rationalize a little bit and told myself, the body needs proper blood circulation to function normally, so do the fingers. May be, there is some obstruction in the blood flowing through my fingers, and they are turning a bit stiff, hampering their smooth movement with a pen on paper. I reasoned that maybe I needed some kind of exercise to keep flexibility in my fingers.

I do not know if that was medically prudent, but after my morning walks, I started the simple exercise of pressing my fingers and palms against stem of a tree in different positions. That worked. I duly included that in my morning routine and have been regularly following it. I am glad, even today, when I write, it comes quite smooth and readable. Thank god, I did not inherit my father’s affliction and managed to steer clear of it till date.

Stepping out of the flash back and returning to the present moment, I feel it has become imperative to keep the handwriting tradition alive and running. The key to success lies in waking up to the problem, consciously facing it and keeping in constant practice. So take care, have an eye on what you write, and how. If you wish to write beautifully, perfectly, just keep writing. Remember, practice makes perfect.

———-Ashok Misra

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26 thoughts on “Beating the Handwriting Woes

  1. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about handwriting. I am glad that I learned handwriting when I was in school. Now I think only the printing way to write is taught.

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  2. This is such a lovely post. By the time I made it to high school, cursive writing was on its way out of the American school system. While the way we learned cursive is a far cry from calligraphy, I am grateful for the instruction I received. I’m interested by the details about the various nibs you used in school–the kalam in particular sounds fantastic.

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    • Thanks so much Ihodgens, for appreciating my blog and making such nice observations! I’m much honored and am glad that you liked my inputs about the writing instruments (nibs) I used at school. We’ll sure be sharing common ideas in the times to come. Thanks again!

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  3. I am a painter and have a lovely handwriting because I like the way it looks, even the way it feels. However, when I write poetry, my handwriting sometimes changes drastically, as though someone else were writing. Actually, as though several other people were writing, sometimes five or six different people, all putting in their two cents on the subject and making up the poem. I think, perhaps, these are not my poems at all since, as you say, handwriting reflects the inner personality.

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    • Thank you so much onadanta! I’m honoured to have appreciative words from a painter! I was really amazed to learn that when you write poetry, you feel as though someone else were writing. That was exactly how I felt about my own poetry writing. I even expressed that in a blog post too. So, we happen to share that sublime experience and feeling. That’s great indeed! We’re sure going to share a lot more happy experiences and observations. Wishing you all good luck for whatever you’re doing.

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  4. I loved this post, it brought some great memories with it. Beautifully penned thoughts Sir but I think this post should have been written in your handwriting to give it more justice 🙂 Just a thought no offense please 🙂 🙂

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  5. I find this column very interesting and informative. But Sir, to tell you the truth, I am more benefited with the help of these electronic gadgets, because since my handwriting is not good, this limitation of mine is getting shadowed. 😀
    Anyways, even Gandhi Ji lamented of his poor handwriting and said “Good Handwriting is an essential part of good education”.

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