Is there a place for the handwritten word in our digital age? Of course there is!
In this time of lockdown I find myself thinking about how technology is helping us through these tough times. Those working from home are taking part in Zoom meetings. Fitness fanatics are sweating through online workouts. Twenty-four hour news and podcasts are helping us either stay in the loop or fill the silence with music, humour or interesting interviews. Not to mention how easy it is to keep in touch with friends and family through video calls and instant messages. Don’t get me wrong – I am extremely thankful for all the tech that is helping us through these weird times.
But I find myself increasingly appreciative of the analogue too. My current daily activities are quite an even mix of the two. I am designing new work through computer software and by using up art supplies I’ve been hoarding. Writing blog posts and updating my website alongside keeping a daily handwritten journal. I enjoy catching up on podcasts and having Alexa play me whatever music I crave (or at least a song with a name that sounds vaguely like the one I wanted to listen to!). However, by relearning how to knit I am taking a slower pace in my hobbies and practicing mindfullness.
As more and more of our lives are being lived online and offices are filled with computers is there still a place for the handwritten word?
Computers were just becoming accessible to the average household by the time I was entering secondary education. Email and online messaging were an exciting new development and some of my friends even had mobile phones! These days I have witnessed, in some degree of shock, friends handing clumsy, sticky toddlers their £800 iPhones to play with! Our children are growing up instinctively knowing how to use these expensive gadgets.
There are warnings in the news that a shortage of surgeons in the near future has been predicted. There are plenty of well educated medical students coming through universities but they lack the hand skills to perform practically as surgeons. These students have not spent enough time drawing, painting or making things with their hands. They are typing their notes rather than hand writing them.
I keep a handwritten daily journal. I find I can connect with my thoughts much better on the page than on a screen. With the added advantage that I can write in bed at the end of the day without the dreaded “blue light” we are warned about upsetting my sleep.
My day job as a bookbinder involves very little screen time. I take notes and draw sketches for each job as I speak to our customers so we get their book bound exactly how they want. Every day I write our tasks up on a huge white board so we all have reference to what is going on in the bindery that day or week.
I keep my planner analogue. My husband and I have a shared calendar through an app on our phones but I find life so much easier without it! We often forget to add events or appointments and I seldom reference it again until it’s too late! I much prefer a to write on a wall calendar if we both need to see it. I also keep a paper planner or diary of some sort. Everything I need in one place and I can see my whole week or month at a glance.
There are many highly functional apps for task and project management around these days too. I love the idea of that. It must be great for those who need to share information online but for me a notebook full of to-do lists is my friend! Even just the act of writing down what I need to do helps me remember it. And if it’s not worth writing down then it’s not worth doing – cutting my list in half before I’ve even begun!
I have noticed this slogan a lot over lockdown in the UK. My thoughts on keeping things handwritten is what works for me. It increases my self awareness and helps me be more thoughtful. For some, using a computer or tablet is second nature but I would encourage those people to try something different while we all have this opportunity.
For this (hopefully short!) time our lives have changed. These changes are different for everyone. Some front line workers are working longer and harder than ever before. Others are drowning in homeschooling confused children. Some are furloughed and finding themselves with more free time than ever before. And others have found themselves unemployed and panicking about their future.
However your life has changed, chose to make some changes you can control. Try keeping a journal and don’t feel self conscious about it. Make a daily to-do list and find satisfaction in ticking even simple tasks off during your day. Write to a friend or family member, pop a card in the post and spread some love. Step away from your online life. Stop checking for news updates or worrying about everyone seeing your grey roots in your Zoom meeting. Everyone is experiencing changes – you do you!
It’s always my go to tip. Writing it down improves your memory, your fine motor skills and helps you to focus. All you need to do is find a way to do it that works for you. Stay tuned for my upcoming articles for suggestions on this topic!