The Power of Handwritten Notes

Technology has come a long way. Nowadays, we can easily communicate with each other on social media—all we have to do is pull out our phones! With just a few taps on the screen, we’re able to put together a message, which we can then send to our friends with the touch of a button. You have to admit, it’s pretty convenient. As a matter of fact, it might have replaced face-to-face communication to some degree!

As much as we’d hate to admit it, typing on a keyword (whether it’s physical or on-screen) has become somewhat of a necessary skill. Think about it—you probably do it every day, whether it’s on your computer or on your phone! Imagine if something were to happen and all the keyboards in the world were to be taken away—we’d have trouble expressing ourselves! Our productivity would probably also decrease.

The History of Writing Instruments

Writing instruments have changed significantly over the years. At one point, we didn’t even use a pen or ink! For instance, Ancient Babylonians used to write in soft clay tablets with triangular styluses.

As far as we can tell, pens were first used by scribes Ancient Egypt. More specifically, they used reed pens, which were made from cut reed straws. Their version of paper was “papyrus”, a type of paper that’s derived from the papyrus plant.

In the western world, quill pens became popular in the sixth century. Made from goose, turkey, or swan feathers, they were the writing instrument of choice during medieval times. Unlike reed pens, these tools were flexible and allowed for various strokes. They had a drawback, though—they constantly had to be sharpened. To do this, an individual would need to use a small knife.

By the early 1800s, individuals had started to develop steel-point pens on a mass scale. They still needed to be dipped in ink, but they were much more affordable. As one thing led to another, the fountain pen came to be. Unlike its predecessors, its design allowed for the ink to flow smoothy during writing.

The ballpoint pen, as we know it, was invented in the 1940s. Featuring a small metal ball, they not only distribute ink smoothly but last a lot longer.

Handwritten Notes: A Forgotten Method of Communication?

Let’s face it—handwritten notes are not as “popular” as they once were. Why? There are better ways to communicate nowadays. For instance, we can send someone a text message or email. Not only is it more convenient (you don’t have to pick up a pen, for one thing), but it’s a lot faster. For one thing, you don’t have to wait for the other person to come and see your note. Instead, they’ll get a notification when they receive it—it happens almost instantly.

That’s not to say that handwritten notes are no longer being used, though. People still use them all the time—just not as often. Of course, it depends on your lifestyle too. Take students, for example—they probably write a lot more than the average person. Surely, even you used sticky notes when you were studying? There are also people out there who enjoy writing letters by hand. Ask any one of them and they’ll likely tell you that it means a lot more when you write each of the letters out yourself!

The numbers have gone down, though. According to a survey by the U.S. Postal Service, the average home receives only one personal letter every two months—as opposed to once every two weeks in the late 80s. Assuredly, this is due to the rising popularity of texts, tweets, and emails. 

Having said all that, it’s too early to write off handwritten notes. The truth is, they remain impactful in several different ways.

Why Handwritten Notes Are More Effective Than Digital Communication

What do handwritten notes have to offer that texts and emails don’t? Let’s find out.

1. They Are More Thoughtful

Texts, emails and other forms of electronic communication require minimal effort. Even when you make a mistake, all you have to do is tap on the backspace key. Not a good speller? Not a problem! There’s always the “autocorrect” feature. Even if you don’t know how to spell a certain word, the computer will get it right for you!

The same can’t be said for handwritten notes. They require more thought. If anything, you have to plan ahead as to what to write—there’s no “backspace” button. You can always cross out a word or use white-out, but too much of that can impact the overall note or letter. 

Given that, it only makes sense that it’s the more thoughtful form of communication. Which would you rather receive? An e-card sent to your email or a physical card with a personalized message for your birthday? Most people would prefer the former, and for good reason—after all, the other person had taken time out of their day to write it for you.

Not only is it more time consuming, but it costs more too. Unlike emails and texts, which only require a few presses on the keyboard, handwritten cards actually require money in that they need to buy a card and mail it.

2. They Show Deeper Appreciation

A well-crafted handwritten note means a lot more than an email, which may or may not have been copied and pasted from somewhere on the internet. When used to say “thank you”, it shows a much deeper appreciation—it lets the other person know that you’re willing to spend time for them. That in itself, carries its own meaning. Wouldn’t you want people to let you know that you’re important to them?

3. They Are Permanent

Digital communication is convenient, there’s no doubt about that. But it does have one major drawback—it’s not permanent. Take emails, for example, once you delete them from your inbox, they’re gone forever. It’s also not uncommon for servers to purge old mail every once in a while to free up room.

The same goes for text messages—they can easily be lost. Even if the file is still on your device, it can be hard to find with all the chat logs that you probably have! Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to sift through texts to find the one that you’re looking for.

In contrast, handwritten notes and letters have permanence. They actually exist as a physical item. You can easily store them away and read them later. I’m guessing that most of us probably still have our old high school yearbooks in our rooms somewhere! There’s just something about reading old notes—it gives us a nice trip down memory lane. They’re much more memorable.

4. They Stand Out From Texts and Emails

From a business perspective, handwritten notes can make you stand out. Applying for a new job? Instead of sending the company a follow up via e-mail, consider picking up a pen instead. Write them a personalized message and send it off—chances are, the hiring manager will be much more likely to remember you. Think about it—what’s more memorable? Clicking an email in their inbox or opening an envelope and reading a letter? It doesn’t take that much more effort on your part, either.

5. They’re Personal

You can’t “copy and paste” when it comes to writing notes and letters by hand. After all, the content is specifically written for the person that you’re writing to; it’s not some sort of mass communication.

On top of that, handwritten notes give you a chance to show off your penmanship, which can reveal a lot about your character. Not just that, but it’ll give the note personality—especially if you end it with a signature. In any case, you’ll definitely be making a lasting impression on the recipient!

Who’s Known For Writing Handwritten Notes?

Most celebrities do their communication via social media. Some, however, do make use of handwritten notes. Take George Bush, Sr. for example—he was well known for his handwritten notes.

George Bush Sr.

Being a president isn’t easy—but that didn’t stop George H.W. Bush from handwriting thank you notes to world leaders, allies, even his opponents! For this reason, he’s often regarded as one of the modern era’s greatest letter writers. While he typed sometimes, he much preferred using pen and paper. Allegedly, he had picked up this endearing practice from his father. Since then, he has also passed it down to his two sons.

The practice of writing handwritten letters also helped him from a political perspective. According to Condoleezza Rice, the 66th United States Secretary of State, George H.W. Bush often wrote congratulatory notes to foreign leaders—even if it’s for a minor achievement.

Over the years, he wrote so many thank you notes that he had enough to fill a 700-book. The memoir titled, All the Best, George Bush, also included memos, letters, and diary entries. Published in 1999, it shared with readers his private thoughts through his correspondence. 

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