Handwriting is everything…until you become a writer.

And the final rule from my youth that I am continually ignoring in my fiction writing job is the critical importance of neat handwriting. I must apologize here to any and all of the teachers that I’m offending with this remark. I’m certainly not advocating sloppy, careless work. When I was in school, however, the emphasis on handwriting was impressive. Long hours were devoted to copying line after line of letters. Important. I get it. One needs to know how to churn out the proper penmanship and letter formation. I’m just saying handwriting and good writing are not synonymous. Writers can produce the most beautiful handwritten pieces ever, but that doesn’t make it quality writing. Not to mention the fact that most people don’t hand write pieces anymore anyway.

What? I can hear folks saying. How can you imply that neat handwriting is unimportant? I’m not, but I’m saying that when one is drafting, caught up in that creative cyclone that I mentioned earlier in the week, it’s okay to be a bit less meticulous. If you saw my notes and pre-drafting work, you would despair (as I’m sure my elementary teachers did.) Know what? When it’s time to turn in the draft, it will be a neat, typed computer file. I never did please any of my teachers with my penmanship, though they gave it a valiant shot by having me practice until my hand cramped. The purpose of writing is not solely to be visually pleasing. It’s to move people and share a world view. If the loops and curves aren’t quite perfect, I’m willing to deal with it.

How about you? How is your handwriting? Do you feel it’s an important part of writing instruction? How did your teachers approach it? All comments get you entered to win the August Starbuck’s card. pencil bunch

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Patrice on August 29, 2013 at 2:42 am

    I wish that I had better handwriting. If I write slowly, sometimes it looks pretty good, but if I write fast or if I’m penning a long draft, my handwiting becomes sloppy. I have heard more and more about students not being taught cursive writing in some schools, and that they cannot read cursive writing. I think this is sad. It seems like we are relying too much on machines to do everything for us. We need to step back and remember some of the “old fashioned” basics of reading and writing.

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    • I think you’re right about machines, Patrice. The more I type, the worse my actual handwriting gets! I think the computer helps me to be even lazier about good penmanship!

      Dana Mentink

      Christian Fiction Author ACFW Book of the Year finalist Betrayal in the Badlands, a RT Reviewer’s Choice Winner http://www.danamentink.com

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  2. I just had to laugh when I read this! I was home schooled, so my mom was my teacher… Yeah, she wanted me to have neat handwriting, but she wasn’t extremely picky about it. I’ve been told that I have very good handwriting — nothing fancy, but it does look nice. 😉 However, when I’m in a writing craze (as my brother calls it), I don’t care a bit about how neat my handwriting is! In fact, my mom says that she can tell when I’ve really taken time with something & when I’m in a hurry to get it all out before I lose it. She says, “When you take your time, your handwriting looks nice… when you’re in a hurry to get it all out as fast as you can, it looks like one of your brothers did the writing.” lol! 😉
    Sometimes I go back & re-write stuff later, though, just so I feel better about how it looks. And so that my brothers can’t lay claim to anything I’ve written… haha! 😉

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