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Draw your letters like you mean it!

One of my most embarrassing moments as a facilitator has to do with handwriting. I was in front at the workshop, introducing to the participants what we were going to do over the next few days. My co-facilitator, with all good intention and the wisest brain, tried to summarise my introduction in a visual form. It was a great summary with a well-thought content but in terms of handwriting, it was totally unreadable. Although it was not my handwriting, this mortifying episode pierced deeply in my consciousness that I vowed to myself to work on improving my handwriting. This personal pledge even became fierce when I started working with another facilitator who has the most illegible handwriting ever.

I always had a good handwriting but I went astray when I started writing everything on the computer. Now, I try to practice writing by hand as much as I can. I try to draw my letters like I mean it! Within a few months, I’ve really seen how much improvement has happened.

People have been asking me tips on handwriting. Aside from telling them to draw letters with confidence and in the most beautiful way possible, it is also important to start with your own handwriting. For me, this is crucial because I find it important to show your character in your handwriting. I think it’s nice to be able to associate yourself with your handwriting, to be able to mark your letters as your own.

In one of my workshops, I gave the participants very cheap lined practice writing papers intended for third graders. You see, it doesn’t have to be special and expensive papers to get practicing. We practiced writing upper case and lower case letters, a mixture of upper and lower case letters, cursive and in any fonts they like. What was important was to draw each letter with the intention to make them look good and most especially, readable. It is also good to look at different fonts created by other people for learning and inspiration.

Any blank surface has the potential to be written on. Any pen is good than having no pen at all. So find time to practice. As one girl came up to me at the cafe to tell me how beautiful my handwriting is, one day you will be proud of yours too. That I can assure you!

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Visuals as a form of communication?

Do you allow yourself to use visuals as a form of communication?

— Malte von Tiesenhausen.

Many years ago, people were saying that handwriting is going to die soon. And I really believed it as I’ve noticed how my beautiful cursive handwriting was turning into full capital letters. I used to love composing handwritten letters on beautiful papers, then mailing them to the rest of the world. Then I stopped all together. Gone were the days of waiting for the postman, of smelling the scented stationeries, of admiring the stamps on the envelopes. Taking notes was all made on the computer too. Mind you, I can take notes verbatim on my computer. I can’t even recall having a notebook until I feel in love with a stationery covered in red leather that I saw in one shop in Bangkok. The year was 2011 and I knew I was back on. I started writing by hand again. I felt liberated. I felt I was on the right path. But, I was not there yet. At that time, I didn’t even know I was going somewhere.

Then slowly, my lined notebooks were replaced with sketchbooks. Instead of endless linear text, I was arranging my notes in different ways. Illustrations too became part of my note-taking. I went on visualising my thoughts and my ideas. I also started visualising recipes and my travel adventures. Then visualising spilled over to my role as a facilitator. Agendas and processes were presented in visuals. I visualised documents, organisational communication processes, talks, reflections and many different kinds of information, including CVs and self introductions. Communicating in a creative way through the process of arranging information visually has awaken my creativity. I was better at expressing myself. It was also very engaging. People responded to my visuals better than if I’ve written only in text. Workshop participants become more participative and inspired to be creative themselves. For most part, I don’t use my computer when I facilitate. I even stop using powerpoint.

Furthermore, my love for anything handwritten and hand drawn returned. I love illustrating cards and mailing them. My heart jumps for joy when I receive hand drawn pictures. I love composing handwritten notes. I would even love to send you one!

Where are you in your visual journey? Are you staying no to the death of handwriting?