On longhand

Today I wrote a letter for a client. In longhand. I fell into a rhythm. My hand moved faster and faster. And when I was done, it looked beautiful.

The longer you spend away from longhand, the worse your handwriting gets. My scribbles used to be uniform, artistic and rounded. Now, they’re slanted, often indistinguishable. But the scribbles are still consistent. They form a pattern. They flow. Good handwriting flows like a calm stream of water, quick handwriting like a waterfall.

Bad handwriting – in which I mean awkward, inconsistent, messy – doesn’t flow at all. It’s bricks rolling down a hill. It lacks confidence.


When I see bad handwriting, it feels like it’s created without confidence. The words come slowly, the letters form awkwardly. Hurried longhand might not be easy to read, but it’s confident, filled with purpose; understanding of the fleeting nature of thoughts, in that we all think at 10 times the speed it takes to write.

Which makes longhand such a beautiful art.

Computer fonts don’t change with the mood. They don’t betray the situation. They’re just there, all exactly the same, needing only themselves to convey a thought.

They allow the writer to leave confidence behind. And in doing so, they lose the romance of what longhand truly is – an expression of genuine thought, from mind to hand to paper.

This was lovingly handwritten on October 13th, 2009