My handwriting has become awful. (In truth, it has never been all that great to begin with.) Creating letters with the movement of the hand, like any other skill, must be practiced to be done well. Ever since i've graduated from high school, i've learned to type nearly all my notes or other communications. I don't think i've tried to make cursive letters since grade school. I simply don't have the fine digit control to produce well formed letters anymore.
I think many people just assume that writings come naturally because they forgot about all the time they spent practicing. I suppose parents are probably reminded of this when they see their kids start to write their names on paper. If you want an example to remind you of how tricky writing can be, i recommend trying to quickly write out a bunch of ampersands. (I'll give you bonus points if you can draw it without looking at it on the keyboard.) If you are like most people, you probably didn't spend a lot of time in school learning how to make this symbol. I'm going to guess that you will also find it awkward and difficult to consistently make good looking ampersands unless you practice.
I also dislike writing on paper because it forces you to think in a certain way. When using a pen, you must put all your ideas together in your head before you start writing them out line by line. This pre-composition is necessary if you would like your output to have a logical train of thought. Typically when i start typing at the computer, i'll form clumps of ideas on the page to give me an overview of where i want to go. If a really great sentence pops into my head, i just type it and set it aside for later rather than trying to remember it until i'm ready to use it. I'm always moving things around to make it just right.
The reason this is bothering me now is because of all the writing i've been having to do for class. When i'm taking a test, i'm not worried that i won't know how to do the problem; i'm worried that i won't have enough time to get it all out. I have to take the occasional break to give my wrist a rest. There was a recent New York Times article that referenced a report that shows that students with bad handwriting performed less well on test because they had to use so much brain power just to get the words down on paper. You'd think we'd be at the point by now where we could use laptops on our exams. Aren't most kids nowadays growing up at they keyboard?
It seems to me that the mind must adapt itself to work depending on the means available to express itself. I've trained myself to think in a way that works best at a computer. The same applies to other types of thinking. As a programmer, i've learned to think in terms of VB, SQL, or XSLT language and syntax. I'm apparently not the only one this happens to. 43Folders' Merlin Mall shares how he has subconsciously started marking-up (or rather, marking-down) the things he writes on paper with a syntax normally reserved for the web. I find this all fascinating, especially when i began to wonder just how must the things we can think of may be limited by the words we have available to express them.Posted by Matthew at February 12, 2005 05:19 PM