Writing for the future

I’m always encouraging people to write the stories from their lives so future generations will learn about life in the “good ol’ days” and maybe learn a thing or two from our experiences. If you’re finally encouraged to try your hand, here’s a little additional advice.

Take some time tomorrow to go by a stationary shop, art supplies store or Hallmark retailer and peruse the writing instruments and writing paper.

Choose a pen that fits in your hand, not too heavy, not too fat, and one with a writing tip that you prefer, resulting in bold, medium or thin lines. The color of ink covers the spectrum. Popular choices include blue, black, purple and green.

Next, choose an acid free paper that will last the passing of time. The paper serves as your canvas so let it complement your ink color choice.

I prefer black ink on white paper, but my dad preferred green ink on ivory-beige paper.  You might even decide to mix it up, depending on the type of letter you’re writing. White ink on black stationary makes a daring statement. It may not be your taste, but again, it may be just the right choice for a letter that speaks of regret. A word of caution: Don’t let your pen and paper choices be so audacious that they overwhelm your words; your words are what count.

Why am I suggesting that you invest in a pen and paper when we’re in the digital age?

There are benefits you’ll receive by hand writing your letters. For example, the physical movement of the hand pulls on another muscle (the brain) to conjure its cognitive processers to release memories. Also, humans cannot write as fast as they can type. Hence, hand writing forces you to slow down and focus.

Yes, most people’s handwriting is messy, but so is life. Engage in the messiness for self-awareness and self-discovery. You’ll cultivate the integrity of emotional truth in the process. Many of us have the handwriting of a physician writing a prescription (translation: almost illegible), but there is something heart-warming about seeing correspondence in a person’s own scrawled handwriting rather than in immaculate word-processed computer type.

But, of course, the choice is yours. You may decide, after you’ve written a few pages, that your intended reader(s) need the legibility of computer text over your scribbling. But even if you write your final draft on the keyboard, I urge you to explore the benefit of writing your quick draft by hand, even if it’s with a number 2 pencil and ruled notebook paper.

And I’ll let you in on a secret: While I care dearly about all the written correspondence my father left, I treasure his handwritten notes the most. There’s just something about his tiny, cursive handwriting in that green ink on ivory-beige paper.