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The content of this book was created by 100+ strangers that I personally contacted through mail and who anonymously submitted responses to questions I pinned up around my school and neighborhood.


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Handwritten letters and notes are an extremely important means of expression that is being lost in today’s digital world.

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Letters indicate extra investment and are likely to be more meaningful because of the effort put into them, making them a unique and exciting alternative to online communication. Receiving a physical object in the mail is much more notable than sending a Facebook message or email. Physical letters are permanent in a way that is more tangible and enduring than online communication. Many people treasure notes and letters for a long time, whereas emails and electronic messages are sent more frequently and are easily forgotten.

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Today, people are forgetting the importance of handwriting as a unique tool for communication. This book aims to remind people that penmanship is a necessary skill to have in an increasingly digital world. Not only does handwriting help develop fine motor skills crucial for kids learning to read and write, it also causes people to think more about what they want to communicate, encouraging meaningful correspondence.

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Through curiosity and thoughtful responses, those who chose to participate in this book demonstrate why handwriting is a fun and engaging way to communicate. This project established real life connections and caused unique interactions through the process of handing out and collecting cards. Handwriting allows people to express themselves in various ways and take a break from staring at their screens. It is an important exercise to fuel learning and creativity within the brain and is scientifically proven to make people happier.

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What I mailed: I mailed an informative handout to introduce myself and explain the project, a question card, and a pre-paid return envelope. I sent these to 100 addresses found randomly through Google Maps and by posting a description of my project with an anonymous address submission form on the internet.

Question cards (question on front, project explanation on back)

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What I pinned around my neighborhood: Around my school and neighborhood, I hung up a poster that explains my project surrounded by several question cards, as well as a return envelope for people to place their responses in. I hung these in six different locations, with a total of 100 cards pinned.

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Responses received:

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Fact: Handwriting is good for your memory. “The act of handwriting helps students (and adults) retain information more effectively than when keyboarding, mostly likely because handwriting involves more complex motor functions and takes a bit longer.”

The University of Stavanger, “Better Learning through Handwriting.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/ releases/2011/01/110119095458.htm (accessed April 6, 2014).

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Fact: Handwriting improves overall happiness and well-being. In a study by Kent State University, writing letters of gratitude and recalling past memories was proven to positively impact multiple aspects of well-being, including happiness and gratitude. Writing also benefits those who suffer from depression.

Toepfer, Steven and Kathleen Walker. “Letters of Gratitude: Improving Well-Being through Expressive Writing.� Journal of Writing Research. no. 3 (2009): 181-198.

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Fact: Online communication causes anxiety, self-consciousness, and addictive behavior. “Internet provides a means for young people to be distracted from stressful experiences, and hence the usage of Internet becomes a coping mechanism. In fact, it has been established that stress is a known risk factor of addiction to substances and also a factor in addiction relapse tendency.” Lam, Lawrence. “Factors Associated with Internet Addiction among Adolescents.” Cyber Psychology & Behavior. no. 5 (2009): 551-554.

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Fact: Handwriting is good for your brain. “Writing by hand is different from typing because it requires using strokes to create a letter, rather than just selecting the whole letter by touching a key. These finger movements activate large regions of the brain involved in thinking, memory, and language.”

Bound, Gwendolyn. “How Handwriting Trains the Brain.” Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2010. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405274 8704631504575531932754922518 (accessed March 24, 2014).

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Statistics Type of content 30%

Paragraph

20%

Sentence

15%

Word

25%

Doodle

10%

Drawing

Emotion 25%

Sad

35%

Happy

15%

Funny

10% 10%

Worried Frustrated Confused

5%

Submission type 20%

Mail (USPS) Email Scan

10% 40%

Envelopes

30%

In Person

Handwriting style Cursive

10% 50%

Printed

30%

Messy Bubble letter/doodle

74

10%


Locations 30%

25%

Europe

65%

United States

West Coast East Coast

40% 12%

Midwest South West North West

6% 7% 5%

United Kingdom

5%

South East

Northern Europe

30% 30%

Eastern Europe

15%

Southern Europe

20%

10%

Other

Western Europe South America 1% Asia

1%

No response

8%

Questions answered 6 responses

What’s the last compliment you’ve received? Do you have any regrets?

11 responses

What’s something you wish you could say?

5 responses 6 responses

What was fun about your week?

9 responses

What made you smile today?

4 responses

What’s a happy memory you have?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? How are you feeling today? Who is the last person you met? What was your first pet?

9 responses 11 responses

3 responses 5 responses 10 responses

What’s your favorite piece of clothing? What did you eat for lunch? What would make you happy right now? What do you see around you? How does the sky look today? What would you like to change? What’s a fear you have? Where would you like to travel? Who did you last talk to?

5 responses 7 responses

4 responses 5 responses 3 responses 7 responses 5 responses 5 responses

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How can you personally make a difference to the lost art of handwriting? Write something! Write to a friend, write down your thoughts, or draw a picture. Chances are, it will allow yourself to relax and create something meaningful – no matter how much time you spend doing it. Exercise your brain, put aside your devices, and write!

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Fill out and submit at http://thehandwritingproject.com 77


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Thank you to the many people who contributed to this book.

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The 80


End. 81


The Lost Art of Handwritten Communication  

A book that highlights the importance of handwriting in an increasingly digital world, created with content received in the mail by sending...

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