Really important things are still written by hand
Nothing can replace your signature! Texts which are close to your heart, you write neither with the computer nor send them as text messages.
You rather write them with love; and by hand.
The point here is not to demonize the computer. There's no reason to do so. It has become an integral part of our time. But handwriting does have its place. Because writing by hand makes a text meaningful and tangible. The hand puts emotions and ideas down on paper. And this is to continue in the future.
The art of writing
A brief history of calligraphy
Please don’t misunderstand: It is far from us to criticize your writing unseen. Perhaps you wield a magic pen or phrase like young Goethe.
Nevertheless, calligraphy – the art of beautiful writing – is in a league of its own. After this brief introduction will you understand why.
The art of writing
Calligraphy is as old as writing itself. And that means it is old; very, very old. Just how old exactly, nobody knows - it is estimated about 5,000 years.
In the Western world, this beautiful writing arose more or less parallel to the Holy Scripture. Copying biblical texts was considered a sacred act, which is why it was necessary to make best efforts. The ultimate objective: legibility. The transcripts were therefore decorated only with illustrations and pictures.
The art of writing
Pretty much in contrast to Islam and Judaism. Here, pictorial representation was – and is – forbidden. Thus, Arab calligraphers created calligrams – shape poetries in which aesthetically drawn words come together as effigies and symbols. For Hebrew calligraphers, precision is paramount. The highly regarded sofers therefore copy each of the original’s letters individually and decorate the words with “coronets”.
The art of writing
In China and Japan, calligraphy is a major art form even today, and it is one thing in particular: an end unto itself.
The actual purpose of writing – being able to read it – becomes completely unimportant. Rather, impulses and emotions are made visible.
The results are expressive scripts which often only express themselves.
The art of writing
So much for history. However, this is not the end of the story. Calligraphy is still relevant today. Arab graffiti artists for example use the traditional calligraphy in their works and convey – nicely packed – political messages as well. In the Middle East, calligraphy thus forms a basis for modern street art which literally puts in an appearance.
The art of writing
You see, calligraphy is more than the art of beautiful writing: It is the art of readable, artistic, accurate, expressionistic – even sprayed – writing.
And even if you don’t use ink to whip up your notes and shopping lists, your handwriting can still be beautiful. In any case, it does tell plenty about you.
Much more than a Word document or an e-mail. And that’s what we like. Do you, too?
Not long ago, the probably oldest manual about love letters was discovered. Where? True to style in Verona - home of Romeo and Juliet. The pink tome named "modi dictaminum" was written by the medieval love expert Guido, who recommended comparing the beauty of the revered lady with gemstones. That will definitely work.
The love letter - the most intimate form of written communication - is sacred. Don't ever consider replacing it with a text message or an e-mail. Confessing one's own feelings will succeed only in handwriting.
Our guide will tell you how!
Lesson 1: Good choice
Before you get started, make sure you have got everything you need for your love letter. Take nice, thick paper - in the colour of your choice. Not too bright though; go for the lighter alternative - pale pink in place of pink, apricot in place of orange, and so on. Adding motifs in the shape of hearts or little roses is allowed, but not absolutely necessary. Here, too, less is more. Should your sweetheart fancy the full dose of romance, then go for it.
There are two things to consider in a pencil: It has to write beautifully and you have to write beautifully with it. Fine ballpoint pens are ideal, yet fineliners such as the STAEDTLER triplus fineliner are likewise well suited. They come in 30 different colours - including subtle natural and pastel shades - to match the paper. Best you choose the proper writing instrument intuitively. Beware of glitter pens and otherwise, though: Cheap run-out versions are often messy, so better invest a little more.
Lesson 2: Adventurousness
You have got your pen and paper? Very well, set it aside. We will do dry runs first. Fetch some notes and take notes. Only when the ultimate letter has been created will we write it down nice and clean.
First of all, think about why you are writing this letter. Was there a specific occasion or incident which inspired you, or do you just want to open your heart? Do you wish to thank someone for the past years or write your way into someone's heart? Think about how you feel and jot down a few notes. Also, you can gather real experiences and moments which you connect with the person. Think about what makes your loved one so unique - even more so if they are failings. Examples such as these will make your letter more vivid and thus more emotional.
Lesson 3: On to anatomy
Your notes are rough diamonds, and you are the jeweller. Once you have determined what your love letter is to be about, you can begin phrasing. Looking for the right words, can easily make you go mad. If that perfect phrase just won't quite come off, crib from the pros. But with style. That is to say: If you do quote Goethe, then stand by it.
However, ONE quote should suffice - after all, you should be the one writing, not have someone else do it for you. Try to express your emotions clearly. The art is in letting your feelings speak out clearly. It isn't easy, but don't despair and don't be too self-critical. Even if you're no Casanova, your sweetheart will appreciate your commitment nonetheless.
Lesson 4: Let’s get on with it!
Metaphor á la “losing sleep over you” are always a rewarding stylistic device for love letters – although a little more individuality wouldn’t hurt. As well as your feelings, your personality should also come into its own. So remain true to yourself – even if phrasing is difficult for you. There is nothing worse than a love letter which bears the handwriting of someone else. Ghost writing is definitely out of the question.
Whether you give your letter a passionate, stormy or a reserved-sensitive style depends on your situation. How long have you known the person, what is your motive? Always question whether the text conveys your message – from your point of view and your sweetheart’s. If the revered is of the rational kind, ornateness may be out of place; just as ardent of love right after the first date. Less drama, more honesty.
Lesson 5: The secret ingredient
You have to decide for yourself whether to insert metaphors and quotes. You should, however, use one thing for sure as regards content: the secret weapon “uniqueness”. If your sweetheart finds his or her nose awful, it should be the most beautiful in the world for you. And if your loved one is a stickler for order, you praise the perfectionism shown.
From a beauty patch on the derrière to forgetfulness, from flowing hair to lack of self-discipline – there are many things which make up your sweetheart. By naming them you show that you appreciate all this in the person – good and bad. In this way you subtly meet one of the most beautiful statements in the world: “I love you just the way you are.”
Lesson 6: The end
Like the beginning, the end is also very important. This is where you sum up what is dear to you – with emotion and understanding. Push and shove, and you’re out. Too much agitated melancholia won’t work either. Strike a balance that suits you and the intended recipient.
It’s the last words of the letter that stay in mind, so a little sweat-talking is allowed! Alternatively, you can include a linguistic wink to make your sweetheart laugh.
Be creative, open and “sweet”. Say farewell by putting a smile on the face of your sweetheart. That’s 100 points!
Lesson 7: Sound check
It is finished, and so are you, probably. Because the joy of completion is all too often accompanied by the nervousness of delivery. Keep calm; there are still things to do. Now read your letter out loud three times at least, like an audition, while paying attention to tone and rhythm. You may need to touch up a few parts.
You should sleep on it before doing the final copy. Then read your love letter out loud several times again. Don’t be embarrassed by what you have written – unless you don’t really feel it. If you think you may have overshot, it’s better to slow things down a bit. But only a little! After all, you should show some courage in your affair of the heart.
Lesson 8: It’s getting serious
Brains off - paper out. It's time for calligraphic writing. Before you get started with the high-grade paper, you should do some wrist stretching exercises and warm-up writing. Then begin. You want your writing to be particularly beautiful and flawless of course - and if something does go wrong, you can try to pick it up gracefully in your letter rather than to set out anew. Don't forget to date your letter so that your sweetheart can recall the event even after years when nestling in your arm with a "Do you remember...".
Once your creation has been completed, read it again (and yes, you most likely already know it by heart). Does everything fit together? It does. If appropriate, you can enrich the letter with a dash of your perfume. Now you put everything in an envelope and prepare for the hardest part. The way to the letter box.
Lesson 9: It’s getting even more serious
Yes, love letters are like an emotional striptease. That’s never easy. But you have a goal in mind and are therefore ready to be entirely at the mercy of your emotions.
You can deliver your letter personally – for bonus points without looking silly. The good old stamp, however, will do. Or you can slip your sweetheart the envelope secretly. In case of a new acquaintance or a first declaration of love, you should be ready to face hard times. Over the next days you will probably suffer, doubt and despair – and feel the full force of love’s fiendish side. Hold out and wait for a response. Under no circumstances should you contact your sweetheart first.
Lesson 10: A strange game
Some are rewarded directly for their sweet efforts, their feelings reciprocated. For others, merely a delicate bond of love forms, accompanied by loss of sleep and butterflies in the stomach. And others yet have their hearts broken. Ouch.
No matter how your mission turns out: You did everything right. Love is worth fighting for, sometimes even taking a risk for. It didn’t work out this time, but it definitely will next time. Why? Because. In our fast-paced times, you did something special for someone very special: you took time. And someone out there will definitely appreciate this fact. Look forward to it.
What F.R. David recognized so consequentially in 1982 took him to the top of the German music charts and sold more than 8 million records for him. The secret of "Words" lies perhaps in its veracity.
Because writing isn't easy, and writing songs is even less so. But don't bury our head in the sand just yet, little John Lennon.
Our tutorial will help to make it happen.
Lesson 1: The theme is the theme
A good song needs a good theme. Very rarely does this come through inspiration; more often by pondering a bit. Autobiographical experiences are just as useful as fictional stories.
And the real environment provides excellent material. Take “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, for example. The idea for the song came in Montreux in 1972, when part of the band accommodation for a Frank Zappa concert caught fire. The smoke drifting over Lake Geneva became a musical masterpiece. Inspiration waits round every corner. So keep pen and paper ready to capture it.
Lesson 2: In search for a title
Now it gets trickier: Once you’ve chosen a theme, you need a catchy title. At best, it will state all that makes up your song. Whether word, sentence, question or digit – be precise yet simple.
This is how it’s done: Lay out ready a dozen slips of paper and the matching pencil. A pencil supports creative processes because we associate it with artistic activities like drawing and sketching. Now scribble away happily and put down whatever comes to mind – no matter how insubstantial it may be. Because what’s on paper is out of your head and thus makes room for that brilliant idea.
Lesson 3: Hooked
Ideally you will have created not only a title in Lesson 2, but also a “hook line”. That would be phenomenal. If not, cerebrate until smoke rises from your cortex to come up with that catchy phrase for a catchy tune. Madonna for instance did it with “Like a Virgin”, or Led Zeppelin with “Stairway to Heaven”.
Now it’s your turn. The hook line should necessarily be part of the chorus – better even, the song’s title. Because once this line is in your head, it will stay there; it will even help you remember the melody. You know what it’s like: You go to the record store, ask the shop assistant for a song “buffalo soldier something or other” while humming embarrassingly. And presto, you have the right CD in your hand. It all depends on the hook line – and you can encounter it anytime, anywhere. So make sure that you always carry your writing utensils with you.
Lesson 4: Words in disarray
The principle which you used to produce the title is also applied for creating the lyrics. Get out the blank sheets of paper and the musing pen! It's time for brain storming - or more precisely, mind mapping.
Put down your song's central theme at the middle and then associate at will. Name topics to better categorize everything that comes to mind. This lets you create a thematic medley to choose from. And the lyrics will come naturally!
Lesson 5: Chicken or egg
The lyrics are outlined – or not. No big deal, we’ll move on. To the heart of the matter. You already have a melody in mind? Wonderful, then start tinkering with the lyrics.
Or the other way round. Just don’t have one bend over backwards to accommodate the other. A good text forms an inseparable, symbiotic relationship with its melody. If yours doesn’t, you need to work at it. Over and over again.
Lesson 6: Ego trip anyone?
Remain true to yourself. Writing lyrics always means writing a personal story in your own words. Here, individuality is the secret of success. So don’t try to copy anyone; reflect instead on your own experience. The pen in your hand is the key to your soul. Use it. After much striking out, re-arranging and adding, you start again from scratch.
This, too, is part of the creation process and a salutary shock: Crumpling up a piece of paper and throwing it in the dustbin is an immensely liberating feeling.
Much more so than dragging a Word document and dropping it onto the trash icon.
Lesson 7: Being moody
Eventually, the first line will be done. And it feels pretty darn good. For the further development, focus on your cadences, choice of words, lyrical melody and go on in this way. Rhyme as you please – and only if you please. With each word, you should reveal a little of yourself and make your emotions felt. Be mild.
Lesson 8: Showing style
Once you have established your personal style after few lines, decisions must be made: What should your song be like? The classic approach of verse – chorus – verse – chorus – bridge – chorus. Or completely different? Think about it, but in the end, trust your instinct. It’s usually right.
The chorus forms the heart of this opus of yours. You will devote most of your time to it because it’s your song’s “repeat offender” and critical to success. Try to create a melodic and lyrical unit, one that goes directly to the head – and make sure the words are singable. The verses should also be consistent in terms of length, stress and rhythm. Although harmonious by itself, the verse is set off from the chorus by the melody. The bridge does exactly that: It often appears in the last third of a song, because it clearly stands out from the rest, thus preventing the song from becoming tedious. Reach into your textual and melodic bag of tricks and try something new – this lets you lead up to the chorus at the end and liven up your song. By the way: There are songs that work great even without a chorus. Nevertheless, you should try it with a chorus first. Unless you are Freddy Mercury and your song is “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Lesson 9: Tapped
Perhaps your hand and the pen have already grown together – lay it aside for the moment (or, if necessary, tear it off). You may now, for once, take advantage of the amenities of the virtual age.
Amongst the vastness of the World Wide Web, there are dozens of sites which feature lyrics. Surf around to find inspiration. Analysing existing lyrics will definitely turn up something useful. Which words do you like, which rhythm? Even poor or “schmaltzy” songs offer valuable learning experience and a chance to do a better job.
Take up the challenge.
Lesson 10: Game’s up
This dreaded moment will come: writer’s block. But don’t despair. Set your collected works aside, and treat yourself to a creative break. As the song “Handwritten” by The Gaslight Anthem goes: “I know there’s someone out there feeling just like I feel”. Your famous colleagues know this problem all too well.
Don’t worry, in a few days the world will look different again. Good lyrics need time to develop. Paper doesn’t blush, so why should you.
Lesson 11: The final spurt
The finishing line is near. Go through your manuscript thoroughly, checking it for consistency. Take out the last small quirks. The smile just keeps getting bigger – and rightly so.
And now write everything neatly together. Yes, also by hand. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, you should conclude your work with this last sacred act. Secondly, handwritten song texts are worth a fortune – provided that they are as good as those of Bob Dylan. And they could be one day. Now that you have mastered the basic skills of writing lyrics, it’s up to you to make an art of it. Have fun!
Penmanship is from yesteryear. It dates back to school, when a strict teacher drilled us in aesthetic perfectionism and rewarded pretty bows with a smiling face. Today we scribble only when we have to, when neither computer, tablet, nor smartphone are readily to hand. Therefore, we have forgotten not only calligraphy, but also the significance of handwriting itself.
It's high time to change that.
Lesson 1: Practise
Considering the fact that the average adult has not held a pen in hand in over a month, practising is the be-all and end-all. A simple trick works wonders: Always carry a pen with you - and use it.
Instead of typing a telephone number directly into the mobile phone, write it down first. The fountain pens by STAEDTLER are ideally suited for the lessons because they prohibit scribbling and encourage writing slowly.
Lesson 2: Continue to practise
That’s so mean. But once you have returned to using a pencil regularly, the pace will increase. Now you will write whole sentences. Make sure that your writing remains consistent.
Regardless of the direction it slopes, as long as the overall result is elegantly proportioned. Then, the synthesis of the arts is within reach.
Lesson 3: Endurance in writing
You have perhaps already noticed how delighted your synapses are. Writing by hand is good for the brain - and it gets any mind going again which has been collecting dust because of computer use. Thus motivated, you may try your hand at a love letter or a thank-you note.
In doing so, try painting the words instead of simply writing them. Content is of secondary importance: After all, a handwritten letter appeals to the emotional part of the reader's brain somehow or other. You simply can't go wrong.
Lesson 4: Stick to the task
Congratulation! You have shown endurance. Don't stop just now - it would mean giving up this beautiful script for the touch system on a keyboard. We do realize that you will not be sending your tax advisor artful cards in future. That's not the idea.
Rather you should realise that you should not equate your tax advisor, co-worker or advocate with your partner, friends or family members. So to the tax office you should continue writing e-mails. And to your loved one a real letter now and then - in your personal, beautiful handwriting.
Can I also sign with an X?
This is not possible in most countries. After all, the individual signature serves to personally confirm documents; an X doesn’t provide sufficient proof of identification. In past ages, people often signed with an X – sometimes even with three. This, however, revealed that the person was unable to write or – mildly put – illiterate.
Why is writing by hand so exhausting?
Because you do it so seldom. Handwriting is like a sport: Jogging just once will not turn a couch potato into a top athlete – it will result only in aching muscles. But practise makes perfect. This applies to pencil acrobats as well. So go on practising and keep at it. Your hand will once again get used to the unaccustomed strain and will eventually write “all by itself”.
Let’s talk shop: What is a facsimile?
Facsimile is Latin and translates roughly to “make alike”. Thus, the term refers to a copy of a document which is faithful in terms of size, colour and condition. Such facsimiles are often used in museums, if the historical original is too valuable to be displayed. The sophisticated production process is done by a complex pressure-mechanical or photomechanical process rather than by hand because no handwriting can be copied 1:1.
Will we still need handwriting in the future?
Yes we will. Writing is one of the most important attributes of human beings and handwriting one of the main characteristics of the individual. Because no one else writes like you – except on the computer. With all due respect for technical progress and making work easier: Words typed are not the same as words written by hand – and never will be.
Is there a dominant hand?
For about 85-90% of the population, it is the right hand. But please don’t misunderstand: The dominant hand doesn’t suppress the other one. Rather, it is the one we use to perform complicated processes with. And this includes writing.
In the past, left-handers were re-educated to use the right hand instead. This is no longer the case. Today we know that the respective other cerebral hemisphere is responsible for the dominance, a circumstance which is difficult to change. Interestingly, animals also have a favourite hand or paw. And there are almost as many left-handed animals as there are right-handed ones.
How do I write secret messages?
There are many possibilities. We will present the three which are easiest: Milk, vinegar and lemon juice. Simply use one of these liquids in place of the good old ink, and you can write your messages invisibly even on normal paper. To make the message appear, all the receiver needs to do is to hold the paper over a candle or other warm light source. It’s fun – not only for children!
Why should you always carry a pen with you?
Because the woman – or man – of your dreams, your dream job or your dream apartment could be just around the next corner. Armed with a pen, you can quickly jot down important details. In the age of mobile and smart phones you could, of course, do this differently; the traditional method is nonetheless much simpler.
After all, your flame’s telephone number scribbled on a napkin is a much nicer memento than just another number added to your telephone’s contact list.
Why do we write so seldom?
Because computers and the like relieve us of this manual work almost everywhere. Today, most workplaces are equipped with a computer while laptop computers and the like are already waiting at home. This makes us lazy. Thanks to smart phones, we have become increasingly lazy when on the road; instead of taking up pen and paper we rather pull out the electronic darling. Such devices do make life easier, a fact everybody welcomes. And rightly so. Yet using a pen once in a while hasn’t harmed anyone – least of all our brain.
Will the children of tomorrow still write by hand?
It would be better if they did. Not only because it makes you smart. Writing promotes coordination skills and has a positive effect on the whole brain because it trains many important parts of it. When typing on the keyboard, the processes are less complex. Moreover, information written is better embedded in memory and thus remembered more easily than if only typed.
Will handwriting die out some day?
Let’s not paint a black picture of this subject; nor simply gloss over. Instead, let’s put it this way: Handwriting as such will definitely stay with us for a long time. But we like to rely on other tools – audio books or the walkie-talkie functions of mobile phones are examples for this. It is therefore all the more important to take time for old-fashioned skills every now and again – essential human skills like writing by hand – and to apply and consciously maintain them. In a fast-paced world, the motto may at times be ‘slowing down one’s life’.
Can you earn money with handwriting?
Under two conditions: Either as a real calligraphy talent who gets paid for writing beautiful words – or if you are dead. Harsh words but true. Bill Gates paid more than 30 million $ for a notebook of Leonardo da Vinci. Had the Italian scholar been alive, the founder of Microsoft would probably have paid much less.
How do I as left-handed person avoid smearing the ink?
Nothing easier than that! Instead of using a conventional fountain pen, better use the STAEDTLER pigment liner. This fine liner dries within seconds, ensuring that nothing becomes smudged. Nine available line widths also provide a range of applications.
What did Goethe have to do with pencil-writing?
Well, Germany’s favourite all-round talent always appreciated a pencil’s ease-of-use. Because writing with a quill or dip pen required some kind of inkwell – along with dunking and wiping. Hence Goethe praised the easy handling of a pencil, even lauding it in “Dichtung und Wahrheit” (Poetry and Truth): “In such a mood I liked best to get hold of a lead pencil, because I could write most readily with it ; whereas the scratching and spluttering of the pen would sometimes wake me from my somnambular poetising, confuse me, and stifle a little conception in its birth.”
Why do my pencils always break?
There are two reasons: You have got either poor pencils or an old sharpener. Do the test with a STAEDTLER pencil. If its pencil tip breaks off, too, then the sharpener is to blame – and it’s time to pension it off. Over time, the blade of the sharpener becomes dull and it will no longer work. Replace your sharpener regularly. Rule of thumb: Time’s up after 12 fully-sharpened pencils or 24 coloured pencils.