Handwritten letters carry more of an impact

Ana Bon, Artistic Director

Do people recognize their own handwriting? Is type the new form that has gradually been taking over the art of penmanship?

Writing with a pencil has never been such an arduous task for some, but for others, handwriting is a normality that keeps them sane.

Like a remedy, therapy and a necessity. How many times you have typed something when you had the chance to write it? Or can you count how many times you have received a handwritten letter, or wrote one yourself? It would be unsafe to say that handwriting is a lost art.  Perhaps, forgotten, but not lost and definitely not dead.

“You have to realize that people don’t send letters anymore because it’s a lost necessity,” said Ahmed Rashwan.  He is currently living in Dubai and sends letters to a friend at Madison College. “People send letters these days simply for their own personal interests or entertainment.”

People send letters for various reasons, personal or not. The question is, do people actually write and send letters, how often? Is it truly a lost art?

“I sent a letter to Scott Bakal, he is an illustrator that was featured in Communication Arts,” shared Emily Maryniak, a graphic design student at Madison College. “He responded back with a handwritten note saying my note had made his week.”

Maryniak usually doesn’t handwrite letters except in special occasions, like holidays and birthdays.

“This was a special occasion in that I don’t usually write to someone just to tell them I like their work, this was our illustration teacher’s great idea, and one I definitely want to keep doing,” Maryniak shared.

Maryniak wrote Bakal due to Courtney Dicmas’ idea that all students in her illustration class should send a handwritten letter to a designer or illustrator they admire.

Dicmas mailed student’s letters and Maryniak was one of the few students that heard back from their recipient.

“He drew on the card and beautifully lettered my name on the outside of the envelope. He also sent more postcards of his work and a nice 8” by 10” high quality digital print,” said Maryniak. “I definitely want to send him another card to thank him for all this!”

Maybe in this email and type driven world, Maryniak’s handwritten letter touched Bakal in a way that a typed email wouldn’t.

But why do handwritten letters carry that magical touch?

“When you send someone a handwritten letter, invitation, thank-you, or condolence, you are extending your humanity to them,” shared Dicmas.

“You are saying to them, ‘You are valuable to me. You are worth my time. You exist in my world and I want to exist in yours.’ ”

Maryniak’s handwritten letter did just that, and Bakal in fact showed his appreciation in return. But making someone’s week upon receiving a handwritten letter is not the only benefit from writing.

Dicmas shared her thoughts regarding mindfulness when writing.

“My brain always moves faster than my hand.  My monkey mind gallops ahead – it jumps to conclusions, makes assumptions and very often says the wrong thing,” she stated.

“Writing by hand gently filters out all that noise. It forces me to slow down and really think about what I mean to say and how to say it well.”

Can it also be that a use of a writing utensil can help someone reach mindfulness?

“Writing in a notebook or journal at the end of the day unfolds in me the delicious, almost selfish joy of uninterrupted thought,” continued Dicmas. “I can let my mind unfold at its own pace, see how thoughts connect and relate to each other, and relive the day’s events.”

Not only can handwriting prove existence, feelings and help process and break down information, for some people it is even more than that.

Dicmas shared, “I can feel the triumphs of the day twice – once in the initial experience, and once more in the recollection and recording of it, I can revisit past joys and sorrows and re-learn the lessons that would have otherwise slipped through the cracks of busy, day-to-day life.”