Pens and Pencils

When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?


I have terrible handwriting, I always have had. It’s big and messy and I can’t even read it myself. I write a shopping list every Sunday and every Monday I get to the supermarket and have no idea what some of the words are. I stand there looking at it thinking – what the hell is that meant to be.

One thing I do remember now is that  1 x tin toms is in fact 1 x tin of tomatoes and not 1 x packet of tim tams as I used to think. When reading it written in my messy scribble is was easy to get the two confused.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”


12 thoughts on “Pens and Pencils

  1. I had decent handwriting, enforced by a mother who used to win prizes in school for her cursive script. With the advent of computers and keyboards however, my handwriting has progressively declined to the point where I’ve given up trying to make it look legible. I mostly print now when I have to write a quick note or list. Even with formal thank-you notes I have to use a hybrid form of printing and cursive which looks odd at best, child-like at its worse.

    • Yes I do the mixed print/cursive writing as well. What a waste of time all those hours of handwriting lessons at school turned out to be. Those little books with the sheet of paper behind that had the sloping lines we had to line up our letters with – all in smudgy black pencil. One of those things you ended up doing with your tongue sort of poking out in concentration. My sister and mother have lovely handwriting.

      • I agree about the waste of time spent on handwriting lessons. At the school I work at, they don’t have the time anymore to practice handwriting because the kids have to learn how to pass the assessment tests they’re given in the spring. The teachers in first grade and kindergarten essentially show them pictures of the letters, and the children have to copy them as best as they can. It makes for sloppy writing sometimes, but in the third grade they take keyboarding classes and start writing all of their papers on the computer, so it’s all moot.

        I remember in the third grade, my teacher praised me for my nice handwriting. The next year, I had a fourth grade teacher who was a control freak and kept telling me I wasn’t writing the letters correctly. She made me cry a couple of times because I could not for the life of me figure out what she meant by “correctly.” I came out of the class hating handwriting lessons, not the least because I developed writers’ cramp from all those stupid exercises. I hope that teacher has little devils frying her fingers on a grill in hell!

        • Third grade! – oh wow. What happens to kids who don’t have a computer at home?

          My daughter holds her pencil in a most unorthodox manner and one of her teachers just couldn’t cope and made her put this special rubber thing on the pencil to force her to hold it the ‘right’ way. She just went back to her old way the next year and forever on.

          • The school district I work for has enacted this policy of providing every student from the third grade on up a Chromebook to do their homework on. Most students have a computer at home, so few of them take up the offer. I shudder a bit however as the ones who take the computers home are the ones most likely to break or lose them. It’s the school district’s money, but still, seeing this brand-new laptop coming back to school looking like it was run over by a truck is sad.

            My son was also one of those kids who wouldn’t hold his pencil “right,” so he was given one of those rubber grip things. He complained it made his hand hurt however, so it was abandoned after so many weeks. He seldom writes by hand now—everything gets typed into his smartphone or computer—but he does enjoy art and drawing, and yes, he still grips his pencil with his fingers looking like a spider on a stick.

  2. My handwriting has gone right off in recent years, not that it was ever copybook. I still make notes in meetings long hand as I tend to make mind map type notes that make perfect sense to me…as the time! Students act as though their throats are cut when they are asked to write anything these days. Most don’t even bring a pen to school they are so reliant on laptops.How are they ever going to leave notes for their husbands or wives to “take out the rubbish”?

    • It’s my spelling that has suffered mostly I think. Spell check, text predict and auto correct have made my brain lazy.

      Don’t kids have to write essays anymore? I used to end up with finger cramps at the end of the exams. Is the HSC still a written exam?

      Well you send texts now instead of notes – that way you always have the proof that you sent it and they received it- they can’t throw it away and say they never saw it.

  3. I’ll hand write a blog post or a poem if I’m in my room, say, and the whim hits me to write, and RIGHT NOW. Because I know that if I make effort to get up and walk to my computer, the whim will have quite disappeared. It is such a fragile thing.

    My handwriting/drawing has always been a problem with me: I’m right-handed but I hold my pen/pencil like a left-hander. So the resulting smudgies can be be very vexatious.

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