Bad habits and bad handwriting

My handwriting has never been great but it gets worse as I stop using it. I don’t write letters any more. I don’t write cheques, I don’t write memos, and I don’t compose short stories longhand. Now my handwriting’s mainly reserved for birthday cards and notes to myself. It doesn’t need to be legible to anyone else so I don’t make the effort. Sometimes I think I’ve forgotten how to write properly.

My typing’s not two-fingered any more but that’s also reached its peak and is going downhill. The almost ubiquitous auto-correct has made me lazy and careless. Typed something wrong? No need to go back and remedy it, it’ll right itself in a moment. Forgotten how to spell a word? Type the nearest approximation and let spell-checker take over at the end (remembering to switch from US to UK English first, otherwise it’s embarrassingly obvious what’s happened). When I’m typing somewhere that doesn’t have these features (say in vim) it’s frightening how sloppy and slapdash a paragraph can look. There are some words I know I knew how to spell when I was at school, that I have to look up in a dictionary now.

We’ve all heard someone say that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well (not always strictly true, but a close approximation). Think of it as bad habit avoidance – in other words, if you can still spell you won’t be stumped when the spell-checker’s not working or you try and write a short story with a real pen on a postcard. Or maybe that’s where bad handwriting comes in useful.





  1. A common complaint, I fear. If I make hand-written notes, and am not extremely careful, it’s a turkey shoot whether or not I’ll be able to make sense of them. For this reason I’ve pretty much replaced cursive script with hand lettering (printing), and frankly, even that is hard to read sometimes.


    1. If I want other people to be able to read it, I write in capitals but make the letters I would usually capitalise about twice the height, so it still looks like a sentence. I probably got this habit (among many) from Big Brother, whose (illegible) handwriting I barely recognise, I’m so used to him writing in capitals.

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