The Fading Art of Writing Letters

LetterWritingSocialAs laptops and smartphones become standards of communication, the act of handwriting declines. Common Core State Standards no longer requires that students learn cursive and, according to The New York Times, “[They] call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.” While this is the trend, some community members still celebrate the art of writing by hand.

Every fourth Sunday of the month, the Corvallis Public Library hosts a Letter Writing Social where participants craft notes to friends and family, exchange handmade or store-bought stationary, and “encourage each other to sustain the epistolary tradition.”

Benefits of Writing by Hand
Yes, technology is king, but research shows that doing some things the old-fashioned way can actually make you smarter. In a study conducted by University of Wisconsin psychologist Virginia Berninger, data showed that, “When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas.”

These claims are supported by brain imaging that showed “greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory” when children wrote by hand. Others argue that handwriting, as opposed to typing, can increase levels of creativity. However, research is still preliminary.

Why You Should Write Letters
While it can take more time, handwriting is a more intentional practice than typing on a keyboard. There are far less distractions when you’re staring at a piece of paper instead of a computer screen. More importantly, your handwriting is uniquely you—whether you’re writing in print or cursive, those are lines and squiggles that only you can create.

When pondering the power of written letters and scribblings in journals, poet Charles Simic said, “Just think, if you preserve them, your grandchildren will be able to read your jewels of wisdom 50 years from now, which may prove exceedingly difficult, should you decide to confine them solely to a smartphone you purchased yesterday.”

 The next Letter Writing Social is this Sunday, Jan. 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Main Meeting Room of the Corvallis Public Library, 645 NW Monroe Avenue.

By Anika Lautenbach