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28 October, 2008

Caps lock

I can barely imagine how I was able to write (with a pen, on paper) continuously for three hours for each of ~9 exams in 1993.  My Finals were certainly the last time I made sustained use of a pen; I sometimes have to stop and rest whilst writing even a cheque nowadays, as the unfamiliar activity causes cramp.

A side-effect is that my handwriting has deteriorated, as I'm no longer accustomed to consistently forming those shapes. My 'joined-up' handwriting is frequently illegible even to me, so I invariably use all-capitals (thereby decreasing practice of 'normal' handwriting, causing further deterioration – I think I have to accept it's gone).

I actually like my all-caps style. Kept regular, it wouldn't look out of place on the engineering blueprints I admired as a young child (my father was a draftsman, and brought home scap paper for me to draw on; I spent a lot of time poring over the isometric intricacies of piping networks). It works well at the small sizes I favour, and accommodates lateral compression: If I enlarge the first letter of each word (as I habitually do), ICanCompletelyOmitSpaces.
Yet I don't always use it that way. Typing in all-caps is generally regarded as SHOUTING, and the same could apply to handwriting. I hadn't consciously considered that (this Lifehacker article enlightened me), but I have developed a looser, 'italicised all-caps' style anyway, used for birthday cards, personal notes, etc., in which the horizontal strokes of an initial 'T' or 'L' can sometimes encompass the full width of the word. It's been called "arty"; I suppose an ability to interchangeably write in that way and in a neat 'drafting' style neatly reflects my scientist-by-training, artist-by-inclination development.

Point is (yes, I was wondering whether I'd reach one, too): I do have a personal handwriting style. It's just not remotely the same one as I had fifteen years ago, and the transition was abrupt rather than the gradual evolution I might have expected.

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