What the #@!*% Happened to My Handwriting?

The Lost Art of Penmanship

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Marc Brownstein Marc Brownstein
At age eight, I figured out that I was better with words than numbers. That was the beginning of my copywriting career. Over the years, it became easier for me to work on ideas long-hand than at a computer. Back in the day, when I was at Ogilvy & Mather, I wrote and wrote and wrote -- mostly on pads of paper. I had pretty decent handwriting. And some of my ideas weren't too shabby, either. Even when I moved to my own agency, I worked long-hand.

Lately, however, my handwriting has fallen victim to technology. Yes, even as I sit here and tap out words for this column on a keyboard, it's one less time I get to actually write with a pen. The result is that my handwriting has gone to hell. And my signature is less legible than it ever was.

That's what happens when we write more on BlackBerries and laptops than with a pen or pencil. As the president of an agency, I don't get the chance to write that much anymore. But I do sign checks, and, man, is my signature nasty.

Yes, folks, the art of handwriting is going the way of the VHS tape. Or now that digital downloads are the norm, perhaps the fair analogy for something dated is a Compact Disk.

It makes me wonder: Are ideas better when they're written out or typed? It might be an interesting experiment for those of you on the creative side. For me, long-hand still works best.

So I'm curious: Are you experiencing the same erosion of your penmanship? Miss your unique style of handwriting? Do ideas come to you easier on a pad of paper than on a computer screen?

There's a strong argument to be made that marketing ideas were meant to be written long-hand. After all, it's hard to crumble up lousy ideas on a screen and shoot 'em into the trash can.
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