Mark Ballard

The art of writing

Mark Ballard is banking on some people still handwriting notes. He has a line of notecards showcasing his artwork he sells.
Mark Ballard is banking on some people still handwriting notes. He has a line of notecards showcasing his artwork he sells. Special to The Telegraph

In elementary school, I learned how to form lines and curves into letterforms. I was then shown how to use those letters in order to make words. As I continued my education, I was taught how to write in cursive. This flowing form of writing allowed me to connect letters to make words. Everyone in my class was encouraged to practice our penmanship.

In my mind, every paper I turned in simply had to be void of any cross-outs. If I was three-quarters of the way down the page and misspelled a word, then a new piece of paper was retrieved and I began again. I don’t know why I put that extra pressure on myself, but way back then to me, a messy paper seemed like the end of the world or at least a cause for major disapproval.

We all learn to communicate in a variety of ways. If we needed an important message sent to someone during class, we simply wrote a note on a small piece of paper, tightly folded it up and wrote the recipient’s name on the front. We then inconspicuously passed it to the person behind us who in turn continued to pass it along until hopefully it reached its destination and not the teacher!

The older I became the more I wrote notes. But when I learned how to type on a manual typewriter, it became much faster and easier to just “type” a note instead of handwriting one. When the prehistoric typewriters graciously moved aside for electric typewriters and then for sleek personal computers and smart phones, things really began to change at record speed. We were now able to send all kinds of notes and messages without picking up a pen, addressing an envelope or licking a stamp.

Every day new and innovative ways of communicating are bombarding us. With just the touch of a “send” button, we can literally communicate with the world in seconds. Why then in these fast paced days should we take the time to handwrite anything? I’ll tell you why. Remember the feeling you got when you went to your mailbox and saw a letter hand-addressed in cursive to you? It made you feel special!

There is just something very personal about putting a pen to paper and writing a note to someone else. Just last week I sat down to write two notes I had been putting off because of time restraints. One was a sympathy note and the other one was a thank-you note. As I stared at the blank notecard, I almost didn’t know how to begin but it came back really easily and I felt good as I signed my name at the end. I must confess I did miss “spell-check”!

I think handwritten thank-you notes have suffered the most in our technology filled world. Like the dinosaurs, they are becoming extinct. As my mother always told me, it is just plain good manners to write a thank you note to someone who gives you a gift or performs a special deed.

It should be hand-written, very personal and say more than just thank you for the gift. It should always mention exactly what the gift was, how you intend to use it and why you like it so much! It doesn’t have to be long – just a few well thought out sentences in your own handwriting.

I must confess I sometimes take the easy way out and email my thanks. I’m going to try and do better because I know how special it makes me feel when I receive a handwritten note. I want to take this opportunity to also encourage you to put some of your creative energy into writing a handwritten note to someone this week. You will not only make someone else’s day special, you will also get to practice your penmanship. Something you probably haven’t done in a while!

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to 3514 Ridge Avenue, Macon, GA 31204; call 478-757-6877; email; follow him at creates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.