In Praise of Cursive Writing


Back in the days of quill pens and ink wells, Charles Dickens began his writing career first as a court stenographer and then a reporter on the daily activities of the English Parliament. Maybe the interesting array of the names of his characters arose from the parade of plaintiffs and lawyers he met while scratching away with his pen. In our age of word processing, when most of us barely recall typing, much less cursive writing, it is hard to imagine Leo Tolstoy penning over 1,000 pages of War and Peace or Shakespeare churning out 38 plays and hundreds of sonnets.

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And yet, we call ourselves writers, with a winsome nod to the true writing of a past filled with ink splotched pages and crossed out lines. But there in that disorderly process, there lived a richness of creativity with circles and arrows, side-by-side with doodles and fanciful drawings in our margins. It was a pace when the work of writing dragged on far slower than racing minds, and allowed us to slowly consider our words as they scrawled out on the page. Without the ability to click “send” or “publish now” we possessed an extended moment between imagination and reality and a slower time that worked as a wonderful assistant. It was a time that God granted a holy pasue, so that we could sift through our thoughts and remember that our words have power.

Before God said, “Let there be light!” He had had an eternity to consider what he would do in creation and the exact order in which He would do it in. So, when He spoke those first words – immediately it was so! He has called us to be writers, in His likeness though we are deeply flawed often filled with a mixture of confusion and faith. So, we should be thankful for interruptions, for scratched out lines and the constructive criticisms of friends. In that space between our words, we can reconsider our message and imagine whether others will be encouraged or insulted, stirred to action or lulled to sleep and more importantly we can listen. For if our writing is to be His message for others, then we must hear the whispers of the Word who became flesh at Bethlehem and wonder what He would have us to write today!

5 thoughts on “In Praise of Cursive Writing

  1. Research is proving that handwriting does have benefits over typing. And “the richness of creativity” you mention here is certainly one of them (though I’m not sure the experts have identified that benefit yet). One distinct disadvantage of typing is using the delete key too soon. Sometimes I’ve wished I’d saved a tidbit that didn’t fit well where it was but might have worked further along in the piece. Alas, it’s gone!

  2. “Without the ability to click “send” or “publish now” we possessed an extended moment between imagination and reality and a slower time that worked as a wonderful assistant. It was a time that God granted a holy pause, so that we could sift through our thoughts and remember that our words have power.” So I’m still old school and like to write out my ideas, drafts, and hard edit, so this resonates so much. I think you just put into words why I stick to pen and paper. On another note, my children learned to write cursive (a skill no longer taught in school). I laughingly tell them that when they grow up they can get jobs as cursive interpreters.

    • I still write out some ling hand, especially the poetry. Lots of x’d out stuff and circles and arrows before it reaches the keyboard. So glad to hear your children are learning the foreign language of real English! Blessing Beth. Thank you for your input.

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