Today's Washington Post has an article on the sad and swift decline of handwriting among today's students. It's taken a very low spot on the priority list of teachers whose days are filled with getting students prepared to take standardized achievement tests, which require little handwriting at all. As the Post points out, keyboarding killed shorthand and is apparently whacking away at cursive writing too.
When handwritten essays were added to this year's SAT, only 15% of the 1.5 million taking the test used longhand in their essays. The rest used block printing.
Many educators shrug. Stacked up against teaching technology,
foreign languages and the material on standardized tests, penmanship
instruction seems a relic, teachers across the region say. But
academics who specialize in writing acquisition argue that it's
important cognitively, pointing to research that shows children without
proficient handwriting skills produce simpler, shorter compositions,
from the earliest grades.
Scholars who study original documents
say the demise of handwriting will diminish the power and accuracy of
future historical research. And others simply lament the loss of
handwritten communication for its beauty, individualism and intimacy.
For anyone who's a writer or an artist, the right tools and the right ambiance can set the stage to promote creativity. Artists and writers who love their notebooks and sketchbooks can turn a trip to Office Depot into a great adventure. Attitude is everything.
There's a brand of bound notebook called a Moleskine that seems to inspire special creativity and brand loyalty. The Moleskine company produces many sizes and types of blank books, ruled and unruled, some with pockets bound right in. There are even Moleskines in storyboard format for artists and filmmakers.
Moleskines have spawned creative communities and fan websites. The best-known of these is Moleskinerie. This site celebrates the creative life, publishing pages from artists' and writers' books, offering writing and organizational tips, and Moleskine lore. It also links to sources for purchase. If you own a Moleskin, even just to list grocery needs, it makes you feel like you're part of that great creative community.
Moleskine also has spawned Yahoo groups, a Flickr group, a LiveJournal group, a MySpace group, an Orkutt group, and a GoogleGroup. The Moleskinerie site also links to all these groups.
Ever been bitten by the writing bug? Do you dream of writing the novel that resonates and expresses the yearning of angst-filled sleepless nights and the breadth and scope of the wretchedness modern life? The ethereal highs, the desolate lows? Well, it's time to marshall your verbal arsenal, quit dreaming, break out Roget's Thesaurus, and, figuratively speaking, put pen to paper. November is novel-writing month and Nanowrimo is the online novel-writing project that can get you going.
The object of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is to write a 50,000 word, 175 page novel by the end of November. Nanowrimo has been around since the late 1990s and loads of writers, improbable as it sounds, have completed their novels. Publishing may be another story, but that's not the point. Write like crazy for a month and share your experiences with a group of like-minded dreamers of the impossible dream: that's the point.
There's losts of support and fellowship on the site, and as the Nanowerimo site says,