We all remember the elementary school days of slaving over handwriting worksheets, trying to get all those loops and curves just right. But did you know handwriting is more than just a skill learned in school? There are actually many benefits of writing by hand and putting that good old-fashioned pen to paper, including improved creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. National Handwriting Day, celebrated January 23rd, 2018? Ring in the holiday in style by exercising your creativity, writing a letter to a loved one, or doodling in a notebook during a meeting (don’t worry, we won’t tell the boss!).
What is National Handwriting Day?
It may seem like every other day is some obscure holiday (speaking of, January 23rd is also Measure Your Feet Day), but observing National Handwriting Day actually dates back to 1977. Coined by The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, the holiday falls on John Hancock’s birthday. Hancock is likely the most iconic scribe in US history, thanks to his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence.
Hand Writing Versus Typing
As mentioned, writing actually has deep-rooted benefits:
- – Handwriting exercises a complex cognitive process involving neuro-sensory experiences and fine motor skills. By feeling the writing surface, holding the writing instrument, and directing precise movement with thought, you give your brain a full workout!
- – In contrast, typing is a simple, memory-based movement. Executing key strokes is just a repetitive movement.
- – Research shows that children who practice their handwriting have higher levels of literacy and cognitive development. This is likely because as children learn how to quickly translate mental images of letters into a physical form, they begin to understand how letters form sentences and meaning.
- – Strong writing skills also improve reading comprehension.
- – Writing notes by hand helps you retain knowledge more than typing.
- – Writing and drawing by hand increases creativity because we are forced to slow down, consider the big picture, and come up with creative ideas.
Learn more about the many benefits of handwriting in our infographic, The Benefits of Handwriting vs. Typing.
Ways to Celebrate National Handwriting Day
While on every other day of the year we turn to our keyboards and smartphones, let’s use National Handwriting Day as a chance to dust off the old pen or pencil and get writing.
1. Write a Letter
There’s nothing quite like receiving a handwritten letter or card in the mail and unfortunately, this is becoming a lost art. But National Handwriting Day is the perfect time to revive this tradition! First, make a list of all the friends and family you want to reach out to. Next, pick up some simple postcards or pretty stationery and think about the message you want to write. Maybe you want to include some fun past memories, a handwritten poem, or an update on how your life has been. No matter what you write, the recipient is sure to appreciate the effort and you will be practicing your penmanship at the same time!
2. Draw a Doodle
Whether you’re on a call, sitting in the waiting room, or just lounging on the couch, doodling is a great way to express some creative freedom and exercise your writing skills. Take your doodles one step further by expanding them into a larger sketch. Who knows, you could create your next piece of art! Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or creative person, it never hurts to tap your inner creativity with help from pen and paper.
3. Color in a Coloring Book
You might have thought that this little hobby was left in your childhood, but adult coloring books are back (and for good reason). Coloring, which is similar to art therapy, has been shown to reduce anxiety, create focus, and encourage mindfulness. Plus, it’s fun! Grab some colored markers or pencils and start your own coloring book art piece to celebrate National Handwriting Day in style.
4. Learn What Your Handwriting Says About You
More than just a means to an end for writing assignments, your handwriting is actually a great window into personality traits and preferences. Graphology is the study of handwriting and analyzes a writer’s character, personality, and abilities and it’s been around for a long time. In fact, how you write can indicate more than 5,000 different personality traits and can even be used to detect certain diseases, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, earlier. Below are some notable characteristics:
- – Writers who use large letters are more likely to be outgoing, people-oriented, and outspoken, while those who use small letters might be more shy and withdrawn.
- – Those that write rounded letters are creative and artistic, and those that write pointed letters are intelligent and curious.
- – Big loops in letters indicate open-mindedness and the need for adventure and narrow loops might correlate to skepticism or restriction.
Read more in our infographic, What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?
5. Analyze Handwriting Styles from the Past
While you’re examining your own handwriting, try looking into some of the most famous scripts of the past! Like speech patterns and dialects, handwriting changes over time and it’s fascinating to look at the history of penmanship. See how famous authors wrote some of their best work:
- – Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, would not only hand write his work, but he would also add beautiful doodles within.
- – David Foster Wallace, a popular postmodernism writer and poet, added stickers to his handwritten notes!
- – Jane Austen’s handwriting was beautiful but mostly illegible, at least to 21st century eyes.
- – Walt Whitman, the iconic humanist, poet, and writer, had picture-perfect calligraphy.
- – Anyone who has read Grapes of Wrath by author John Steinbeck won’t be surprised by his dedicated, disciplined, font-like handwriting.
As you can tell, handwriting really tells a story about a writer’s work and style. Take National Handwriting Day as a time to celebrate this art form.
6. Create a Vision Board
National Handwriting Day also corresponds with the beginning of the year and making resolutions. A vision board is a great way to visualize your goals for the upcoming year and creating one from scratch is the perfect way to celebrate handwriting and art. Vision boards are simple to make. All you need are some old magazines, newspaper, other media, and art supplies. Find things that resonate with you, such as a person in a suit for career growth or a big salad for healthy eating, and put them on your board. Then, hand write words of motivation to finish the piece.
Check out some vision board examples here!
7. Practice Your Signature
No one said that John Hancock is the only one that can have a cool signature! Your signature serves as your personal mark on everything from checks to cards, so take time on National Handwriting Day to perfect it. Try different styles, spellings, and structures. Just initials? Full name? Larger first letter? The possibilities are endless.
8. Keep a Dream Journal
Dream journals are a way to keep track of your dreams and are often used to find patterns in thoughts and emotions. They can be used as a springboard for a writing piece or just as a fun hobby to monitor what your brain is cooking up! First, find a journal that you love and can keep right by your bedside. Then, make a habit of recording your dreams right when you wake up. Even if they are just fragments of memory or emotions you felt, starting the habit is key to dream journaling. You might be surprised with what you come up with! Ryan Hurb at Dream Studies explains his process for dream journaling here.
Handwriting is more than just a tedious task we learn in school. It is a window into our unique personality, an instrument of creativity, and a brain exercise! Celebrate National Handwriting Day this year with some fun, stress-free writing time, art, or journaling.