The Lost Art of Writing

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Poignant post considers the lost art of writing, pondering what we sacrifice when all communication is electronic.

My grandpa wrote love notes to my grandma.

Not just when they were young. He wrote them throughout their marriage, even as an elderly man in the last few years before his death.

I know because I found some of them.

Discovering such treasures is bound to make a person start pondering.

And in this moment, what I’m pondering is that I hardly ever write anymore.

I’m not talking about the fingers-tapping-on-keyboard-or-phone-screen kind of writing. I do plenty of that kind.


I’m talking about the fingers-grasping-pen-and-applying-ink-to-paper kind.

I use my iPhone for my grocery lists. And my vacation packing lists. And my blog post ideas list. And my every-other-kind-of lists.

I can’t remember the last time I hand-wrote a list on a notepad, or even on the whiteboard I still (for some reason) keep on the fridge.

I text my husband. And my family and friends.

If I have something lengthy to say, I send an email or a Facebook message.

I can’t remember the last time I hand-wrote a full letter.

I use the Bible app, both for reading and for taking notes.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote in my leather-bound Bible.

I use my laptop for blogging and book writing.

There’s not even a need for labeling pictures. The date becomes part of the properties of a digital photo, after all.

And I can’t help but wonder what we’re missing out on.

Not so much now, I guess.

But when I’m finally in my heavenly home, my children and grandchildren will miss out on all the little pieces of me I’ve so delighted in finding from my grandparents.

The postcards and letters.

The tiny, carefully printed, time-worn notes in Bibles.

The fading labels on the backs of pictures.

The hastily scrawled grocery lists.

The quickly jotted highlights of our family reunions.

And let’s not forget the love notes.

Interestingly, my grandma was no stranger to technology. I was surprised and impressed when she learned to use a computer as a 70-something-year-old woman.

I found this email from my grandma not too long ago.

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I was so thankful to find this message, tears dripped from my cheeks as I read these precious words from her.

Her personality is all over it, though her fingerprints aren’t.

But even if I were to print out this note and hold it in my hands and soak in the warmth of her words as I hear her voice in my imagination, it wouldn’t mean as much to me as the letters I have bearing words she wrote with her own hand.

In the script that was distinctly hers.

It’s just more meaningful that way, isn’t it?

Sure, handwriting takes longer. Let’s consider correspondence, for example.

A trip to the store must be made, where stationery is chosen, then purchased.

Attention must be paid to whether there are enough stamps lying around or whether a trip to the post office is in order.

A pen must be found. (Is that the hardest part for anyone else, or is it just me?)

And that pen will probably be out of ink, so another one must be scrounged up.

After all that comes the pouring out of thoughts onto paper. Thoughts that take time to form in the mind and then more time to form on the paper.

Next comes the hunting down of an envelope, followed by searching for an address. Then, finally, a trip to the mailbox.

I’m tired just thinking about all the effort required.

And yet isn’t that what makes handwriting so valuable when we’re on the receiving end? The time taken. Effort exerted. Personal touch applied. 

It’s a gift.

An increasingly rare one, and yet, one I’m determined to begin imparting to those with me now, and to those I’ll leave behind someday.

The time. The effort. The personal touch found in the lost art of writing.


Want more encouragement in your Christian walk?

My 30-day devotional, Drawing Near: 30 Days Toward Intimacy With God, is now available on Amazon! Drawing Near 3D cover
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10 Replies to “The Lost Art of Writing”

  1. Terrie

    I LOVE this piece….but then I bet you knew I would. Yep…we have lost the “art” of writing and I agree that there’s nothing like a “handwritten” note from someone (or even to someone). Thanks for reminding us of this lost art.

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Thanks for stopping by, Terrie! And you’re right – it doesn’t surprise me that this resonated with you. 🙂 I can still picture your lovely cursive in my mind’s eye!

  2. Brenda Lester

    I loved getting little notes and cards from Mrs. Angove. Well after an extended hospital stay she would continue to send me notes of encouragement and well wishes. During times of trouble she would send me a card or note telling me she was thinking of me and that I was in her prayers. Whenever I send a card to a friend or church member(which I don’t do as often as I should) who is ill or going thru a hard time I hope it lifts their spirits like Mrs. Angove’s did mine.

  3. Rosemary

    Hi Jennifer, I have fifty years of my aunt’s diaries, written in her own delicate hand. They are one of my greatest treasures along with my parents’ love letters and my grandmother’s recipes. When I’m gone, will my children treasure my blog? I need to give some thought to that. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece.

  4. Ginger Harrington

    Oh yes, handwritten notes can leave a legacy of love. In this day and age we are increasingly defaulting to the electronic. Though it is fun to hear from scads of friends on FB on your birthday, it cannot compare to the time and love that sends a card. Linking with you today at Grace and Truth.

  5. Tai East

    Beautiful post, Jennifer! Like you, I use my phone for everything, but I’ve made it a point to actually buy a journal to journal my prayers instead of using the app in my phone and there is something very special about using a pen and paper to connect with THE LORD. I find such intimacy in handwriting my prayers to HIM. … It was a joy to visit with you. Peace and many blessings to you, Love! 🙂

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Thank you for sharing that testimony, Tai. I’ve made some changes as a result of this post, and this is one I still plan to implement. I’ve never been one to journal, but recording my prayers – especially those based in Scripture – is something I plan to begin soon. Thanks for stopping by!


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