Cherrell Avery, once a calligrapher-in-residence at the V&A, gives handwriting lessons to adults, and believes it is perfectly possible, even in adulthood, to change your style completely and adopt, say, an italic hand – although all I’m after are techniques to improve its legibility, make it more attractive on the page, and lessen the discomfort. In a 90-minute introductory class, Cherrell assessed my writing and set me homework. It made an immediate difference, but real change takes daily practice. Here’s what I learned.
Some great tips behind that link. My faves include choosing the right pen and slowing down. I know this is something many struggle with.
There are a collection of antique shops here in Minneapolis that my wife and I find ourselves near once a month. My daughter takes a monthly class in the area, so we are left for two hours with not much to do other than check them out. We often find cool old wonderful stuff in these shops (the Royal Typewriter photo I posted a few days ago was from one of these) but today I came across a fantastic Correspondence Desk that blew me away.
The handsome blond oak was accentuated with an British green leather writing pad.
Lifting the writing surface reveals ample storage underneath with small drawers.
Underneath the top is storage for inkwells, pens, stationery, envelopes, etc. I especially loved how the inkwell compartments were stained with ink. This was a piece that saw years of practical use.
And even more storage drawers along the side.
It is things like this that the phrase "they just don’t make ’em like that anymore" seems best fitted for. In today’s world, there is no reason for such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship to exist. Very few in this modern age would dedicate a whole desk simply for the act of writing by hand. A computer on such a desk would simply slide off. Only weirdos and freaks such as I (and I suspect many of you) would see the elegance and endless utility of such a piece and be willing to pay top dollar to preserve and use it.
Unfortunately, the shop owner had just received the item and had not yet had a chance to discuss pricing with the owner. So, all I could do was leave my contact information and let him know I would be following up on it in the near future. And, walking out the door of the shop a part of me felt I was, in no small way, walking away from a fate.
“It needs to be the best it can be because that’s really our competitive advantage,” Skip said. “We’re not cheap. If you came to me and said, ‘Wow, I need a million of something in a really big hurry,’ you’re probably in the wrong place.”
I really enjoyed this profile of Horween Leather Company in the new online magazine, The Distance. I actually have an affinity for fine leather goods and, increasingly, many of the ones that have found their way into my life use Horween. One Star Leather Goods, for instance, makes wonderful wallets and notebook covers — many using Horween Chromexcel. And, the Field Notes Cover from Hellbrand Leatherworks that is on my person daily uses it as well. It makes me that much more appreciative of these items knowing the care that went into them at the source — a US based family-owned and operated business.
Ever since it was released, the Metropolitan has been gaining steam. I liked what I saw when I reviewed the original medium nib model, and now that the fine nib model has hit mass release I think it is the fountain pen to choose for beginners over my previous favorite, the Lamy Safari.
I have not tried one personally, but who am I to argue with the astute and experienced Mr. Dowdy. I know many folks that would like to get into writing with fountain pens but are unsure where to start. Now, you know.
Most recently, my written notes have been marked up in Markdown too.
The reason for this is simple: Markdown is so easy to use, so easy to read and so easy to implement that it was a natural progression to transfer the system to analog notes. Obviously, analog notes aren’t actually styled with italicized and bold letters. But the small syntax additions help add context that is otherwise hard to convey.
I often do this as well. Especially to denote italics and bold.
If you’ve ever wondered what Geoffrey Rush was pecking at in The King’s Speech, or what Colin Firth was writing his novel on in Love Actually, this website should shed some light on your questions. I know I’ve definitely added some of these to my “must have” list.
I have added a new page to the site titled Site Notes. I’m using this page to build an evolving set of rules and recommendations The Cramped. A philosophy.txt as it were. This is what constitutes an operating manual for this site. It is also, more than anything, a promise to the readers. As I say on one of my other sites, this is “What we believe in…”
“We don’t write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,” Mueller told me. “The people who were taking notes on the laptops don’t have to be judicious in what they write down.”
She thinks this might be the key to their findings: Take notes by hand, and you have to process information as well as write it down. That initial selectivity leads to long-term comprehension.
So, aspiring writer, I propose that the quality and meaningfulness of what you and I do correlates with our willingness to consume, ponder, critique, and contemplate the thoughts of others. We are not little blobs floating in some sterile vacuum, and neither are we sitting at a typewriter in a whitewashed isolation cell. We only nurture our capacity to say something constructive about the world if we let the world in.
A reminder that, in order to be better writers, we must be better observers. It is essential that we disengage from the blank page regularly so we might go out and have the experiences required to return and fill it.
As an aside, James Shelley’s subscription newsletter, The Caesura Letters, is one of the best things I read daily. It’s smart and challenging. You should check it out.
I have been writing, but if you follow me online there’s no way you could have seen it. In December, as part of my quest to cultivate one habit per month, I journaled every day: quietly, consistently, prolifically. I didn’t mean for it to be a secret, but the deeper I got the further I drifted from the Internet. My tumblr went stale. Old articles of mine resurfaced on Medium, but I didn’t pick up the conversation. I disengaged from industry conversations I normally would have participated in. I didn’t tweet once in three whole weeks. Online, it looked like I didn’t exist. (Or perhaps was on vacation.)
To the Internet, Something Was Up! And I confess?—?something was up. The truth is, I was writing: I was writing by hand. Writing with ink, pen and paper (not the app). And it felt?—?and “felt” is precisely the right word here?—?it felt great.
Beautiful read. And it’s not just about the joys and benefits of writing on paper but also reading as well. This part especially resonated with me:
Writing?—?by hand?—?makes me a better writer. And reading?—?on paper— that makes me a better reader, too.