I realized today that it has been a looooonnggg time since I had a writing cramp.
I quite literally cannot remember the last time I touched a pencil or pen, since exam time. I'm sure I have, once or twice, written something down on a piece of paper... but I certainly cannot recall what or when that was.
ETA: I just remembered the last time I hand-wrote something. It was a birthday card a little over a week ago that I wrote in Sharpie because I didn't have enough letter stickers.
The vast majority of my communication is done though human interface devices - physical keyboards, microphones, virtual Swype keyboards, touch screens. I keep my grocery list on my phone. I take notes on my netbook. The kinds of things you would jot on a sticky note I have stored in Untitled.txt. If I need to write a letter, I type it and then print it. The point is, I hardly write anymore.
I can clearly recall being in elementary school and being forced to learn how to write cursive. I hatd it, because the weird looping letters were hard to remember. What the hell is up with the cursive b, eh? It's balls-crazy. I can't recall any children enjoying cursive, but we had to do it anyway. "You'll have to use it in high school," the teachers would say in exasperation, "They won't let you print. Everybody writes in cursive."
Little did they know that by the time I was in high school, everything was printed - by a computer printer. Teachers flat-out wouldn't accept hand-written documents, and especially not if they were written in cursive. I really don't know where they got the idea that teachers would prefer cursive writing. People finally realized it is always easier to read something in a clear, standardized format than try and decipher all the varied approaches to writing. (Not to mention the convenience of writing it... When was the last time you used white-out?)
Earlier this year I was sitting in a longish history exam massaging my hand, which had seized up from the unnatural amount of writing I was doing. As I was rubbing my hand, I thought to myself about all the hours I used to be able to sit and write and write and write, with no pain and no cramps. In my childhood I would spend hours pencilling out (awkward) stories for my own entertainment (mostly about wolves), and now I couldn't handle more than a half hour of moderate writing?
Pathetic, I had thought at the time.
But then I remembered how my fingers and wrists used to hurt after being on the computer for even short periods of time. I realized I no longer get any aches from long days of typing, and that somehow my hands had gotten... stronger. My typing is certainly more deft and sure, and I can now spend hours and hours with one hand on a mouse and the other hand on WASD and never have a problem - nary a cramp or ache.
I suppose I've traded one skill for another.
I am somewhat sad that handwriting is falling out of favour. A person's lettering has a certain flair of personality that just vocabulary and style can't capture on their own. You can learn a lot about a person by just glancing over their handwriting. I remember wishing I could write like all the other girls in a clear, rounded font. My own penmanship is cramped, angular and hurried, which is how most boys seemed to write. I guess I was always destined to find myself in a typically male field, heh.
Oh, and I've almost forgotten: some people are able to elevate mere writing to an art form. I have seen some absolutely stunning displays of penmanship, notably one of T's more distant relatives is a talented calligraphist who sends bewildering Christmas cards (Bewildering because your first thought is, "Where did she find a pre-made card with out names in it? Ohhh... that's handwritten, not a computer font.")
On the other hand, I'm glad I no longer have to sit beside people as they try to decipher my scribbles - "No, that's an n, not an r. Those are two words. My bs do NOT look like my hs! Look, I'll just read the damn thing to you out loud." I no longer have to write one copy of an essay or assignment, and then recopy the whole thing word-for-word, carefully forming every letter so that my teacher has a chance of interpreting it. For my academic career, at least, it's been a good move.
I think that in the future I will leave my pencils for doodles only. If I am given a pencil and a surface to use it on, I very quickly turn to idle doodling. My favourite things to draw are cats, dandelions and trees. I draw many trees. And I like to draw horses, too, but I can never remember how their back legs are shaped.
I picked up a habit of combining doodles and notes in, ah, nonessential classes. I spent a significant portion of my history class trying to make my friends laugh by drawing silly interpretations of what the professor was saying. Surprisingly, it kept my attention and helped my remember many facts I would have otherwise forgotten. It's a good tactic for being in class, though it certainly made me feel silly come time for the open-book exam, haha. All the other students had neat spiral notebooks full of highlighted and organized notes, while I had a handful of pages covered in doodles.
I've uploaded a few of my doodle/notes pages for safe-keeping, because there is a good chance I'll accidentally throw them out next time I clean the bookshelf.