Kate Gladstone teaches and remediates handwriting for individuals/audiences in the USA and elsewhere, as CEO of Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works. Kate is also Director of the World Handwriting Contest. Her preference for Rhodia (generally the dot-grid format) is on grounds of quality and Kate mostly uses it with 1.5 mm italic pens, often Lamy with a teal ink (Diamine Teal or Noodler’s Squeteague.)
RD What led you on this particular career path?
I came to this career because, at age 24, I was struggling to improve my own (then) slow, painful, illegible, and ugly handwriting — a consequence of dysfunctional education along with some neurological disorders (most of which had not yet been diagnosed) As I improved my own handwriting, people whom I knew encouraged me to teach others.
My success (teaching myself and then others) — particularly interested my father, who had experienced lifelong handwriting difficulties similar to mine: during and after his Palmer Method childhood. He was the one who most encouraged me: I formally opened Handwriting Repair (now Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works) with classes offered to hospital doctors as part of staff development and quality control initiatives — in several cases, the hospitals had been on the point of losing accreditation, and/or individual doctors had been considered at high risk of facing malpractice charges, because of the consequences of poor handwriting in healthcare.
For over a decade, until electronic prescribing became common (and brought problems of its own), healthcare practitioners composed about 2/3 of my clientele. Today, my clients are anyone from schoolchildren to teenagers — some of whom contact me on their own initiative, having found me on the Internet — to folks of any age who simply want their handwriting to work, for a change (and who therefore are willing to change it so that it will work)
Additionally, many of those aged 35 and under have discovered that they cannot read cursive — and that this has numerous personally and professionally embarrassing consequences. (Fortunately, one can learn to read cursive in about an hour, because one does not have to learn to write cursive in order to learn to read it. I have taught people as young as four to read cursive if they read print — teaching that I do either personally or through the free iPad app “Read Cursive,” on which I collaborated with the educational software company WebTeamCorp.)
Nowadays, I check every new client to see if he or she can read cursive accurately and fluently — or at all. I’d the client cannot read cursive, then I teach cursive reading along with teaching italic handwriting. (In fact, I teach cursive reading by showing how cursive derived, step by step, from simpler and more legible letter formations such as those still used in italic.)
RD Why is handwriting important to you?
Handwriting matters to me for several reasons:
/1/ It’s useful and important to have a means of making your thoughts, transactions, and communications permanent without an electric power supply. Doctors and others in New Orleans found this out the hard way during Hurricane Katrina.
Just days after the worst of the disaster was being overcome in one Florida town, their largest local hospital flew me in to give the doctors some emergency handwriting training because the hospital’s Medical Records staff couldn’t read most of the handwritten records the doctors created in the four days during which the storm had knocked out the hospital’s power system and therefore the computers.
Handwriting and disaster coalesced in another way on that trip — at the hotel where the hospital had reserved me a room during my visit. Guests arriving, including me, were not being allowed to check-in because check-in depended on electronic key-cards — which weren’t working: eventually, someone had the bright idea of going out to hunt up old, retired staffers and asking them how people had checked into the hotel before computer. The answer — the hotel’s ledger book — had been in the basement since the 1980s: under a thick layer of dust, which the retired ex-staffer fetching the book had to blow off before using to teach the other staffers how to use a handwritten ledger to check the guests in.
/2/ There is some research evidence (citations on request) that students who write by hand remember more, learn better, and think more actively about their work than students who use only keyboards. PLEASE NOTE that these gains appear in all forms of handwriting, including print-writing. This point deserves emphasis because too many promoters of cursive, when they quote the research, have quietly altered the reports’ findings to generate “scientific proof” that of a superiority for cursive. This would matter less if such documentable inaccurate statements about research were ‘t made — as they are usually made — to legislators and to other decision-makers，
/3/ A third reason that handwriting to me — at school, handwriting washouts (which I once was) are often jeered (even considered unintelligent) by peers, parents, and even teachers. No child (or adult) should be subjected to this still-permitted bigotry.
RD How can one get started to improve their writing?
To get started on improving your own writing would be a column in itself — that subject needs and deserves more than one article. Here, though, are tips that most of us can use:
■ Cross lowercase t’s as you write them. Don’t wait to go back after the entire word is written.
■ Simplify the downstrokes of letters, by keeping them as free from curves as you can, and using only about a 5-degree to 15-degree slant to the right (too much slant causes poor legibility). A slight right slant is easier to read, in a left-to-right alphabet like ours, than a slight left slant.
■ Eliminate loops wherever possible. Simply retrace your initial stroke on ascenders, or lift the pen without looping on descenders. (Most adults who write fast but legibly normally eliminate some or many loops and joiners in their handwriting.)
■ Join letters with straight lines, not curves. For example, join o to n with a straight, short horizontal line.
■ Be aware of the research on speed and legibility, Current research (citations on request) show that the highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting belong to those whose writing is print-like and semi-joined: joining only where the joins are structurally easiest and least accident-prone.
■ Use very simple, even “print-like,” formations of letters, even when they are capitals and/or are joined. Remember, capitals form only 2% of ordinary prose text (they should not receive 50+% of the elaboration and effort)
■ Most people should position the paper so that its center is in front of the writing-arm’s shoulder. To keep it in place, and move it as needed after a few words, use your non-writing hand — perhaps with a paperweight or a stress ball.
■ Even if you do nothing else as you write, quietly ask yourself — for a split-second, as you finish each letter or numeral, “Did I make this letter well — unambiguously legible — and was it easy to do so without risking accidents in the handwriting?” If you can honestly answer YES to both halves of the question, require yourself to wrote the next alphabet-letter or numeral a tiny bit faster. However, if you must honestly answer “No” for both parts, require yourself to wrote the next alphabet-letter or numeral a tiny bit slower. This — even if just for a few minutes a day — is a powerful means of developing legibility and speed in your handwriting, and an equally powerful means of developing your ability to perceive and evaluate these features of your own handwriting.
Please visit Kate on the web at:Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works.
Read Cursive app is specially designed to help children (and others) learn letters, sentences, words, and stories in different and interesting style. In short, this app will help the users get familiar with cursive handwriting that is going to help them learn even difficult handwriting faster.
Today’s Talk Back subject: Do you keep all of the pages intact in your notebooks/tablets or are you ok with removing them?
In a perfect world I’d like to keep everything intact in all my tablets, spiral notebooks and bound journals. Why? Because in my mind, there is something both powerful and rewarding about seeing a tablet or book filled with ideas representational of a specific period in time.
In reality, my only rule is to keep bound books intact and sometimes spiral notebooks fall into that category, sometimes not. Tablets on the other hand, are regularly cannibalized for whatever task at hand.
I am most effective when I am able to work visually – which means sometimes spreading 53 individual pages out on the floor (or taping them to a wall) so I can get a better sense of how things fit together. These sheets can often be found clipped together and somewhat embarrassingly stored in gallon sized zip-lock freezer bags. (Though they are not stored in the freezer.)
What works for you? In or out?
Pencil or pen in your hand, we know there are words making their way onto the page in one form or another, every day in every way.
What are you writing?
In your Webbie: Do you keep a diary noting daily events? A journal filled with personal reflections? A notebook filled with favorite quotes? A sketch diary? A dream journal next to the bed to document your nocturnal travels?
Is your No. 8 almost empty from jotting down shopping lists for trips to the local farmers market? Lists of wines to buy again stuck behind a magnet on the refrigerator? Notes to UPS to leave the package with a neighbor?
Do you use the Unlimited notebook you keep in the glove box to keep track of the business mileage on your car? To record rare bird sightings at the local conservatory? Write down books read, books to read?
Are you taking full advantage of the 16×12″ No. 38 by sketching out your dream house? New garden? Mind mapping a new business idea to start a pay-what-you-can-afford restaurant?
Maybe you use a No. 18 yellow legal pad to take notes at meetings? Brainstorm new project ideas over a brown bag lunch? Or maybe you are reworking your resume or drafting a cover letter for that job you really want?
Using the No. 16 to write a bio for that online dating service? A new poem for tomorrow night’s spoken word event? For sketching the old woman sleeping on the subway? Crafting a new menu for the week?
All this and more… What are you writing?
Do contemporary writers still write longhand? J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, still does. “I like physically shuffling around with papers…” – From the dole to Hollywood
Unable to afford even a used typewriter, Rowling wrote the earliest drafts of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in longhand. - January’s Magazine
JK Rowling would stop into a local coffee shop called The Elephant House, sit at a particular out of the way table, and write and write. … in this way Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was written out longhand over many afternoons in a coffee shop and then later typed up on an old typewriter. – from Anita’s Notebook
Rowling: I still like writing by hand. Normally I do a first draft using pen and paper, and then do my first edit when I type it onto my computer. For some reason, I much prefer writing with a black pen than a blue one, and in a perfect world I’d always use “narrow feint” writing paper. But I have been known to write on all sorts of weird things when I didn’t have a notepad with me. The names of the Hogwarts Houses were created on the back of an aeroplane sick bag. Yes, it was empty – source.
I try to sit down at about 9:30 a.m. with a notebook and a pen, and I write longhand until about 1 in the afternoon… There’s a whole bunch of reasons I’ve really taken to it. On one level, I like not being online… Writing longhand, the work feels very clean and satisfying to me…. There just seems to be a lot less second-guessing while writing longhand and that is awesome. – from USA Today
Joseph Hillstrom King, better known by the pen name Joe Hill, is an American author and comic book writer. He has published three novels—Heart-Shaped Box, Horns and NOS4A2—and a collection of short stories titled 20th Century Ghosts.
On Joe Hill’s Tumbler account Joe Hill’s Thrills, a reader asked about the advantages of writing longhand: You never get distracted trying to send a tweet from a notebook. A notebook never pings you with an email…
The artist Charles Wilson iii does rough sketches and layouts, which later become crisp, detailed, unique, final drawings. I think my notebook is like that. It isn’t an outline, but it is close to a rough sketch for a story that will come later… I’m working briskly and loosely, trying to capture a certain energy more than anything else. I’m not worried about pretty language, because the notebook is just for me, and will never impress anyone. I can do delicate, careful things with language in second draft.
Also, a notebook filled with story is satisfying in a way a digital document isn’t. It feels good to take it off the shelf and turn through the pages. A filled notebook is a brick; fill enough, and you’ll wind up with a stack of ‘em, enough to build your own personal palace of the mind.
Other Noteworthy Authors Writing Longhand:
The Long and Short of Writing Longhand on The Booklist Reader
Five Famous Authors Who Write Longhand at Pencils.com
Is writer’s block real? What do you think causes it? And what are your favorite ways to move through it? I’m not sure I have experienced it in the way others have spoken about it. When I get stuck on one thing, I simply shift to the next. By working on a myriad of creative projects at any one time, this typically frees up energy surrounding the “block” and permits the mind to relax enough for the ideas, words, etc., to begin to flow again.
Need some inspiration to get over the hump?
One of my favorite ways to move through the “stuck” is by doodling. (For me, this simple exercise of mindless mark making ended up becoming a foundational element in an entire career based on creativity.) Doodling engages the brain and helps to calm a restless mind. Doodling helps focus our attention which can in theory, help you break through writer’s block.
In this quick TED Talk, author and visual thinker Sunni Brown argues that doodling not only helps people stay mentally focused on the topic at hand, it also improves their ability to process information, and enhances our creative problem-solving.
“Writing is thinking on paper, or talking to someone on paper. If you can think clearly, or if you can talk to someone about the things you know and care about, you can write – with confidence and enjoyment.” – William Zinsser
In Saturday’s interview with Ian Hedley, he mentioned being able to think better on paper. Do you agree?
As a visual person by nature, words on a screen can often feel very one-dimensional to me. When I put pencil to paper, I can doodle in the margins, circle great ideas, cross out the not so good ones, and rearrange a series of papers on the floor to see which part of a project should come first, next, etc.
“Sketchbooks are not about being a good artist, they’re about being a good thinker.” – Jason Santa Maria
Good Ideas Grow on Paper: “Great designers have one thing in common: their design process is centred on ideas; ideas that are more often than not developed on paper.”
“you slow yourself down so you can consider each thought”
Doris Plumb uses a writing process that involves writing quickly in a journal, without thinking, so students’ ideas come out fast.
There’s nothing like a new journal for a new year. Was one of your holiday gifts a new journal? Need help getting started? Here’s a few ideas on how to use it:
You can use it as a personal diary, which would include entries arranged by date, reporting on what has happened over the course of a day, week, etc. A personal diary might include personal experiences, and/or thoughts or feelings. It may also include comments on current events outside your direct experience
You can use it as a commonplace book- essentially a handwritten scrapbook filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, proverbs, prayers, etc. Commonplace books are useful as an aid in remembering useful concepts or facts, and each book becomes unique to its owners particular interests.
You could use your new journal as an urban sketchbook – one where you practice drawing on location in cities, towns and villages you live in or travel to. (Take a look at the Urban Sketchers Flickr Pool for inspiration.)
The purple journal shown above is a Rhodiarama Webbie. These notebooks are available in two sizes: Large 5 ½ x 8 ¾ ” & Pocket 3 ½ x 5 ½ ” and in 15 colors: Black, Chocolate, Taupe, Beige, Anise, Turquoise, Sapphire, Iris, Purple, Lilac, Raspberry, Poppy, Tangerine, Orange & Yellow
Did you know that ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the beginning of each new year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts?
Tell us your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions. Do you make them? Typically keep them? This time each year, I make what I call a Manifestation List. On this list, I include a variety of situations I wish to manifest- from the kind of person I want to be, (compassionate, mindful, disciplined) to more goal specific desires. (Write successful grant proposals, attend more online classes.)
According to a study by the University of Scranton/Journal of Clinical Psychology, the Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 were:
1 Lose Weight
2 Getting Organized
3 Spend Less, Save More
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 Staying Fit and Healthy
6 Learn Something Exciting
7 Quit Smoking
8 Help Others in Their Dreams
9 Fall in Love
10 Spend More Time with Family
According to their study, the percentage of resolutions able to be maintained through the first week of the year was 75%. Past two weeks 71%, past one month 64% and past six months 46%.
In a 2007 study from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends. (from Wiki)
5 businesses that profit from New Year’s resolutions at Market Watch
Top 10 Healthiest New Year’s Resolutions at Health.com
Happy Holidays! Please enjoy this month’s link selections, along with a few holiday inspired art journaling videos, and also this Book of X-Mas Pinterest Board with loads of ideas for holiday related journaling ideas.
Lightning in a Bottle: J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey is Back at Ink Nouveau
Macro Nib Shots – Photo Post at Ed Jelley
The Red Corvette of Tape Dispensers at Blog – Rad and Hungry
Christmas 2014 at Fountain Pen Restoration
Vincent Van Gogh’s Notebooks at Making a Mark
A 22-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Late January, 1974 at Thought Catalog
Review: Leather On The High Street 3 Pen Case at Gourmet Pens
Overthinking Pen Travel at The Pen Addict
J Herbin Ambre de Bermanie ink review at Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Top 10 of 2014 at A Penchant for Paper
More Stuff Around The Desk at My Supply Room
Happy Inkmas at Palimpsest
Link Love: Another Time-Sucking Rabbit Hole at The Well-Appointed Desk
In Week 2 of The Paper Project, we offered a sample from one of our most popular G Lalo products, “Vergé de France” stationery. In upcoming weeks, we will be offering the paper again in a variety of colors.
Not familiar with Vergé?
“The G. Lalo… What can I say? it really made me want to have someone to write a personal letter to. It is so fantastically aristocratic, and it feels so perfectly right to scribble a few words with my Pelikan M640 Polar Lights, I think it was made especially for such a pen.”
“The G. Lalo was very different. The moment I felt it I was intrigued, and man did it impress! It’s textured so writing on it with a pencil was not as smooth, but you can definitely feel the thickness. Using my fountain pen on it felt great! Very quick dry time.”
“…wishing for a G. Lalo paper filled sketchbook….made me want to draw on it. It had just enough tooth to make me feel when my pen/pencil was on the paper, but not so much that I felt like I was fighting it”
50 sheet tablets of this exquisite 100g laid paper are available in 5 3⁄4 x 8 1⁄4″ and 8 1⁄4 x 11 3⁄4″. Matching envelopes are available.
I have a small immediate family but my extended family is gigantic. While I started researching my family tree over 25+ years ago, it wasn’t until fairly recently that I really began to speculate about the people themselves, and how they may have gone about their daily lives. To learn local history, I’ve Googled the names of the towns they lived in and as a result, have often discovered interesting local and regional news specific to my ancestors timelines. I’ve also taken virtual tours of these areas using Google Earth.
I’ve learned about the foods from where my ancestors grew up in Eastern Europe, then searched YouTube to find videos of native Hungarians who could show me how to properly make drop noodles for my Paprikash.
Interested in journaling about your own family history? Here are a number of articles that can help you get started:
Journaling Your Family History Journey at The Armchair Genealogist
It is important to not only record your family history but your own reactions, thoughts and impressions of your discoveries as you make your way through your research.
Keep a Family History Journal at Your Family Legacy
Don’t confuse a journal with a research log. Logs are for the discovered facts, such as your notes from viewing a census microfilm. A journal is for the thoughts, emotions, and memories from finding the facts. Recording the location of my great-great-great grandmother’s grave in a cemetery is a fact found in a library reference book. Finding her grave was a heady, emotional experience and worthy of a journal note.
Leaving Your Enduring Legacy at Easy Family History
One hundred or two hundred years from now, your descendants can know who you are. And they may find their lives forever changed for the better because of the legacy of uplifting, faith-promoting strength you left them.
Creating a Personal Journal at FamilySearch.org
Top 10 Memory Books – Journals with Questions for Preserving Family Memories at About Parenting
Need more inspiration? Here’s a Pinterest board on record-keeping, journaling & family history.
The subject of today’s Talk Back post is: Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Stephanie Smith, and I am your Rhodia Driver. When people ask what I do, I often struggle to put it into a single word or phrase. The simplest answer would be, “I’m creative.” But that tends to not make sense to a lot of people. A slightly longer answer would be something along the lines of, “I’m a writer. I’m also an artist, and I develop and offer creativity workshops designed to inspire, empower, and support people along their path.” Rhodia Drive and I found each other because of my intense love for tools that feed my creativity.
I believe creativity flows easier when working with tools you love.
I’ve been using Rhodia 8+ years and one of my current favorite products is the No. 16 top stapled pad in blank or dot. Cover color doesn’t matter. How do I use these? Typically to scrawl ideas for new projects and I’ve gone through a ton.
I also use the No. 18 (blank) the Classic Meeting Books, R pads… As long as it’s blank or dot, it’s high on my list. I am patiently waiting for spiral bound dot pads….
Now that I’ve had a moment to share, will you tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you, what do you do, and which is your favorite Rhodia product?
How to Build a Time Machine
I’m a director. At miano.tv we are visual storytellers creating corporate videos, customer testimonials, television commercials, historical documentaries and more. I’ve been fortunate enough to do what I love – directing – for my entire professional career. My work has been seen across the United States and around the world.
Preserving history through documentaries is perhaps what brings me the most joy as a director. Frankly, I was never really into history. “History” was a class in school where you had to read a “history book” and then you were quizzed on what you learned. It wasn’t until I directed my first documentary that I realized how fascinating and outright fun history can be! History is not simply what some scholar writes in a book or an agreed upon account of the past – to be memorized, quizzed on and forgotten. History is our story and it is as fascinating and diverse as each of us.
By now you are asking: “What does any of this have to do with Rhodia paper?” Well, nothing… And everything.
Early on in the process of researching our documentary The Worlds Greatest Fair – about the 1904 World’s Fair – I was shown the diary of a young woman who visited the fair and who wrote about it in great detail. Her name was Laura Merritt.
Laura was likely a teenager when she visited the St. Louis World’s Fair with her family in 1904. She was born on the family farm near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Like so many people, visiting the World’s Fair was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the world. Laura wrote about that experience in her diary. Her accounts ultimately became part of the introduction and conclusion of our documentary. (Note: Unfortunately, since Rhodia didn’t exist in 1904, Laura didn’t use a Rhodia journal.)
Laura Merritt’s diary represents a physical connection to something that happened 110 years ago. The words written on each page were put there by a person who actually experienced that momentous event. Those same words typed on a computer and read in an email or a book would lose something very important and yet difficult to quantify. Laura’s words are not terribly substantive or poetic; her penmanship doesn’t exhibit a particularly artistic flair. There have certainly been more thorough accounts of the 1904 World’s Fair and thousands of photos exist that reveal more detail. But Laura’s handwritten diary is more than an account of an event. It is a time machine. Seeing those carefully handwritten words, feeling the paper as you turn the pages – the same pages that Laura turned over a century ago – transports the reader back in time.
I use fountain pens to write in my Rhodia A5 webnotebooks nearly every day. What I write is unlikely to ever be fodder for a documentary. In fact, I often write purely for the tactile experience; the words are sometimes unimportant. There is just something so enjoyable about writing on high quality paper… The pen seems to float across the page.
You may think that the act of physically writing is old fashioned and insignificant… If so, you’ve missed the point. You are depriving yourself of one of life’s simple pleasures and a uniquely human experience.
Close your laptop; turn off your computer. Grab a marvelous pen and some Rhodia paper and write! Tell your story – large or small – and you will create something far greater than text on a screen. You will create a time machine.
Have you ever considered keeping a journal dedicated to holiday memories and traditions?
Here are a few journaling prompts to get you started:
Holiday foods: What are the traditional foods that you eat at the holidays? What new foods did you introduce this year? What came out perfect, and what needed improvement?
Mom and Gram each made a dense “filling” around the holidays and that was never like anyone else’s filling or stuffing that I knew. It wasn’t until years later that I figured out what they were making was actually a savory bread pudding.
Holiday decorations: What decorations do you put out during the holidays? Are they family heirlooms, or are they new? Are they influenced by any cultural or religious traditions?
Growing up, we put silver icicle tinsel on our imitation tree with blinky lights and taped golden garland around the door frames along with Christmas cards from friends and family. Gram had a mini pre-decorated Charlie Brown style tree. It would take her 5 seconds to set up; she’d plug it in, drape a mini tree skirt under it and it was good to go.
Favorite Gifts: What was your most favorite holiday gift ever? What gifts missed their mark?
One of my all-time favorite gifts was actually a birthday present from a friend. It was a small fabric bundle tied with a piece of yarn. Once opened, I discovered a tiny feather, a small seashell, a few beads from her favorite bracelet that had broken, a tiny piece of driftwood and some small rocks. (Mostly items I knew she’d collected along her many walks in nature) She’d placed the bundle inside a cardboard box that she’d collaged with meaningful images.
Who do you spend time with during the holidays? Do you always go home for the holidays? Spend it with friends?
When I was first with my husband, we’d go on a whirlwind tour to visit at least 5-8 different relatives. I especially liked spending Christmas Eve at my Mom’s.
What cultural holiday traditions do you observe, or do you remember from when you were younger?
What I remember most is all food related. Mom’s kiffles, Polish kielbasa, macaroni and potato salad. The filling I mentioned earlier. Ham with pineapple glaze.
Need a few more prompts to jump-start your holiday journal? Take a look at the links below.
30 Holiday Themed Journal Prompts at Art Journalist
December Writing Ideas: 30 Holiday Journal Prompts at Journal Buddies
Pen and Paper: Holiday Journaling Ideas at Carol Rubenstein
We have upon occasion, acknowledged the fear that some people have about starting a new journal. but this time round, I’m being literal when I mention the blank page. Blank, as in no ruling. No graph, no lines, no dots. Nothing to keep the words from moving from small to large or from falling off the page altogether.
If this is your fear, you may be suffering from Lackaruleophobia. Continue Readering »