I admit, as I begin this post, that it is somewhat ironic. After all, typing a blog post intended to be a defense of handwriting is about as ironic as it gets. However, the topic has been on my mind for some time. I believe that good penmanship is a mark of a gentleman of style and substance, so let me lay out my five reasons.
1. Penmanship requires concentration. Scribbling does not. Scrawling out printed letters does not. Hastily scratching out a bullet point or two on a scrap of paper does not even come close. All of these may be part of the daily life of a man about business at any level, but penmanship requires concentration, and attention to detail. A man who takes enough pride in his writing to do it legibly and well is a man who likely puts his concentration into other things as well.
2. Penmanship requires patience. In a day of instant gratification, the individual who embraces the long haul, the slow development of mastery of a highly detailed skill is a rare breed. This type of discipline is easily transferable to learning any other highly detailed skill, whether manual or intellectual.
3. Penmanship requires thoughtfulness. Sending a text or a tweet is rapid, quick fire and often about sending out the first thing that comes to mind. However, when words must be written out carefully so as not to be thrown away and started over, the writer must first think at least enough to know where the message is going before it begins.
4. Penmanship can be a meditation. I have several journals for writing. I doubt that at any time they will be seen as anything more than collections of snippets of thought. However, one of those journals existed solely for the purpose of stream of consciousness writing. It was a place where I allowed thoughts to flow from my mind through my pen to the paper, and then when I was done I was surprisingly clear. This is meditation in its purest form, and handwriting can facilitate it.
5. Penmanship requires … a pen. I have many pens. Ballpoint pens, rollng ball pens, fountain pens, novelty pens, collector pens, hand made pens, pens of various shapes and sizes. Many of them have been gifts, some of them gifts to myself. But all of them have a story. They are jewelry for the gentleman. They are tools prized for both form and function. They are also an indication of one ready for action. After all, almost daily, someone will ask you to sign something.
There may be many more reasons for penmanship, but these five seem, to me, sufficient enough to encourage the gentleman of style and substance to embrace it.