When Did we Forget how to Write?

This week I have been writing. I don’t mean ‘writing’ in the blogging sense or typing but actually writing. You know – by hand!

In the last few days, I have averaged six pages of A4 writing in a couple of hours. It is many many years since I have done so much writing and I learned something rather interesting doing it. My hand hurt. I actually got to the point where I had to put down the pen for the evening and couldn’t continue, two nights in a row.

I am sure writing didn’t hurt me when I used to do more of it. Back at school and at University, I hand wrote everything, day in and day out and I never thought twice about it.

Is it just me who has, on the whole, stopped writing by hand for anything other than the odd list or note?

When did typing take over from writing? Did it just sneak in and no one noticed? Did someone notice but not say anything?

Gone are the days where I hand wrote letters to friends, wrote in a paper diary, had a paper address book, kept written to-do lists and wrote paper work notes.

As someone who can type at a speed that I don’t want to admit even to myself, I find myself typing as the default option, most of the time. I spend my life typing both in and out of work. I type in all sorts of software. I type when I blog. I type in Evernote, Trello, and Google Keep to stay organised. I type emails, whatsapps and text messages. I type on social media. I type when I research my family tree. I type in google calendar and contacts. I probably spend a good 12 hours with my hands on the keyboard of a computer or a phone on any given day and much much more on busy days!

I do find that when I am doing genealogical research I find myself making handwritten progress notes when trying to solve mysteries but even then, I commit my work to print as soon as I am sure I am on the right or the wrong track. These notes are simply what I once would have put in my ‘jotter’.


The ironic thing is that I have quite good handwriting. Filed away in my office are my Calligraphy tools. I actually used to take courses and enjoy creating mini masterpieces at home.

I have seen lots written online about how ‘kids nowadays’ spend too much time on their phones and how everyone is always ‘online’ rather than ‘actually doing things’. What I hadn’t considered is that the move towards a more digital world may have actually killed off our writing skills. I realise that perhaps I may be a little out of practice when it comes to writing essays by hand but to actually be in pain when putting pen to paper really gave me something to think about.

Did we kill the art of handwriting? Is this generation’s evolution to be the loss of the muscle tone required to write by hand? I find this a rather backward idea in what we usually think of as such a forward-thinking world.

Maybe we will have to look to those places that are described as ‘developing’ in the world and ask for their help to re-learn the skills that we are losing. Perhaps we will come full circle with the learners educating the teachers once again.

I will admit that in our home, despite a lot of reliance on technology, I insist that we use a family planner that is a paper one. We have a column for each of us, one for all of us and one for homework due. It works. I have tried to institute many different digital solutions to the family planning problems but so far, this is the only one that actually works and that the whole family commits to, so I guess it is here to stay. I suppose I will have to start writing more on the planner in smaller writing, just to get more practice so that next time I have a handwriting marathon I don’t end up in pain.

Author: catcandothat

I like to write, read, knit, cook, travel, dye my hair, obsess about genealogy and I'm learning to code. In my spare time, I have a full-time job and family to care for. I have previously written as Lentils

8 thoughts on “When Did we Forget how to Write?”

  1. My hand writing is absolutely tragic! I’ve even found that my left hand is better now than my right. It’s a bit sad that lovely hand writing is a dying skill! It’s turning into an art pretty much!


  2. I heard ,not sure if true but kids are no longer going to be taught cursive writing… sad. My Late Mom had the most beautiful writing and I have very little of it left.


  3. My father tells me that his father loved the act of writing: putting pen to paper. He addressed every one of my parents’ wedding invitations himself in calligraphy. I don’t have any memory of him, his having passed away when I was 1. A couple of years ago my father discovered a few pages of his handwritten stories of his childhood, and reading his own handwriting talking so personally about his life was so special, it felt like he was there with me.
    Although of course as a person of my generation, I immediately typed it up and emailed it to the rest of my family 😂


      1. Yes – I have a recipe book with the handwriting of my gran. It is very special seeing a loved one’s handwriting after they have gone.


  4. I too used to write by hand for hours and hours and hours. I used to write stories, but cultivate different handwriting styles just for the fun of it, and practise calligraphy. I learnt touch-typing when I was temping in my early twenties, and at some point started “writing” by typing. Then at work we switched to typing all notes and since that my handwriting has become not only less neat (I used to pride myself on flowing forms!), but like you, it hurts! I can’t even sign my name properly any more! Something goes wrong before I get to the end!!


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