How have you developed a handwriting habit?
June 29, 2011 9:15 PM   Subscribe

What are some handwriting uses that encourage regular, repeated sessions? Difficulty: Meaningful output (i.e. not rote exercises), creativity optional (i.e. writing short stories, composing lyrics are less desirable).

I'm a fan of stationery and general writing paraphernalia (e.g. fountain pens, inks, fine papers, blank notebooks). I've acquired a stockpile. I'd like to use it now, please.

Correspondence seems like a natural fit with this and is something I'm looking into. I attempted keeping a journal, but was stymied by my compulsion to record lots and lots of detail (entries took a long time and I got behind). I'd prefer applications that didn't require (a significant amount of) creativity -- "write a page of a short story every day!" isn't helpful. I realize this is an arbitrary distinction.

My hangup is generally "this is nice and/or (relatively) expensive stuff! I don't want to waste it!" e.g. by doodling, scribbling notes, etc. Tell me how you've developed a habit for handwriting.
posted by brentajones to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Find poems, quotations and so on that you like, and transfer them into a single book by hand. It'll help you memorize them and also be nice to flip back through later.

If you get bogged down in details, how about journaling something very specific? A dream journal would be cool. You could also do a journal version of my friend's favorite conversation starter, Happy/Crappy: write one good and one bad thing that happened to you that day. You could try limiting yourself to one or two sentences.

But, also, My hangup is generally "this is nice and/or (relatively) expensive stuff! I don't want to waste it!" e.g. by doodling, scribbling notes, etc.

I used to be this way about things like fancy bath products, until I got the advice of "if you save something for the Perfect Occasion, you will literally never use it." On the other hand, using it on any old day can make that day feel a little bit special, which is awesome!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:25 PM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]

I use my fountain pen and its ink every day for everyday sorts of tasks (writing notes for school, for one thing).

Blank notebooks are ideal for doodling and random notes. I like the "treat it like twitter" suggestion above. I think I read here once a question for someone's dad, who had piles of old notebooks wherein he wrote a simple sentence or two if something significant happened that day. Not necessarily to him, though that as well. Thought that was a neat idea.

As for the fine papers, maybe write letters to yourself to look back on later? Or just write an unexpected letter to a relative, friend, etc. People usually like receiving non-junk snail mail and it's a chance to practice good handwriting.
posted by asciident at 9:49 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go to interesting public lectures and take notes. If you're like me, this will also help you remember what you've heard.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:39 PM on June 29, 2011

make sets of hand lettered christmas/birthday/invitation cards and sell them on etsy
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:42 AM on June 30, 2011

Morning pages (from The Artist's Way book) are 3 pages of journaling every morning about whatever comes into your head. No worries about whether too detailed, too vague, too boring: the whole point is to brain-dump it first thing every morning. So in this case, at least, if it's too detailed? You're doing it right. And since it has a built-in page limit, you don't have to worry about filling your notebook the first week.
posted by instamatic at 2:03 AM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

How about writing out your favourite recipes onto recipe cards or a nice but sturdy notebook?
Or if you have any family-heirloom type pieces of furniture, you could write out their stories then tuck the paper into a drawer.
Write out an instruction booklet on how to take care of your house/pets should you ever get sick or suddenly incapacitated
If you have a house, have you done any renos? Detail those and keep them with your receipts/warranties
Make an address book
Write letters to your future self/your kids/your parents
Have you gone on any great trips? Write what you remember about them
If you garden, keep a record of the weather/conditions specific to your land
Take up a cause, and write letters to politicians
posted by meringue at 2:40 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Architecture and technical drawing, although they are both extremely stylized format.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:17 AM on June 30, 2011

I have a similar stockpile so I'm reading this post with interest.

I know you're already looking into correspondence. I'm trying to get it into my head that a meaningful note does not have to be 3 healthy paragraphs or more. It could be "Thinking about you today, Aunt Daisy. I remember the day we spent on the lake. It started raining and everyone else left but we just sat under the trees and played pinochle. Love you!"

Or a joke, or a twitter-esque observation.
posted by bunderful at 4:38 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm starting a grad program soon and will be a little short on time, so I'm reading about 11 books ahead of time and want to cross reference the information to help with research when the program starts. As I'm reading the books I keep a subject index of every page I read. Proper nouns go in as well as the jist of each topic discussed, tied to which page I read them on. I'm going to digitize these and put them in a DB to search later on. I'll also add to it as I go through school and read more books, so it should be pretty big within a few years.

Because I can I'll make it into a Google style website, but one big searchable text document would be just as good. I suppose I could go old school and skip digitizing by alphabatizing the topics and updating as I go, but that sounded like a pain so I chose the digitizing route instead. YMMV.
posted by jwells at 5:30 AM on June 30, 2011

On the correspondence idea - letters to soldiers?
posted by lakeroon at 5:43 AM on June 30, 2011

seconding showbiz_liz on copying great works that you want to remember.

I had to do this as a mild form of punishment (chewing gum, tardy, etc - not major discipline) in high school, where the warden was my English teacher. She made sure I had interesting, provocative and well-written things to copy, including great poetry, plays and essays, and high quality student papers from the past.

I learned a lot, and really enjoyed it. She kept the papers at the time, but I've developed a lifelong habit of copying short works that meant a lot to me.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:37 AM on June 30, 2011

I don't know if you're at all religious, but my mom goes through stationery like nobody's business because she's on the prayer line at her church. There's a notebook in the church where people write down people or situations they want to pray for (mostly ends up being sick relatives), and once a week the prayer line leader collects the list and sends it out to the rest of the people on the prayer line so they can pray about it. They do it mostly by email, but my mom volunteered to send a paper version to a few older ladies who don't use the internet, so she writes out the list by hand for each of them every week and mails it along with a short note.

So maybe even if you're not religious, you could look into correspondence with older people especially?
posted by sigmagalator at 7:11 AM on June 30, 2011

I attempted keeping a journal, but was stymied by my compulsion to record lots and lots of detail (entries took a long time and I got behind).

Ha, your question happens to coincide perfectly with what I was just working on. Have you seen the Joshua Hempstead Diary? Lots of detail, every day, for almost 50 years. And it couldn't have taken him that much time, because he was so damn busy. He uses very short sentences. Like twitter WAY before its time.

Other thoughts:
-Write a blog, but by hand - scan the written paper and post it.
-Take notes. If you don't have to for work/school, then en forme de poire has a good suggestion with lectures. Or documentaries, if you're already watching them at home.
-Write a little review or summary of every book you read and movie you see. (Then you'll never wonder if you read or saw it years later.)
-Make inventories of your belongings. (Would make packing easier if you move, and might help eliminate duplicate stuff you own.)
-Make lists of everything you have to do each day.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 7:26 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

A similar idea to others suggested above: write a commonplace book.
posted by misteraitch at 8:50 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

One way to find correspondents: join (it's free!) and look for letterwriting swaps. Every month there is a swap just for fountain pen letterwriters. Lots of fun for the price of a postage stamp.
posted by daneflute at 3:58 PM on June 30, 2011

Thanks folks. Everybody's got good ideas here. I especially like the idea of a commonplace book (though I still have to fight that "must. keep. it. all." urge) as well as the notion that correspondence can be short and still valuable.

If anyone else is out there, keep 'em comin'.

(incidentally this was my first ask, so thanks for making it worthwhile).
posted by brentajones at 6:00 PM on June 30, 2011

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