In My Own Hand

I rarely blog about written communication, but a quotation I read in a recent Wall Street Journal motivated me to write this.

My mother died many years ago, but recently I had a personal connection with her. In one of my files, I found a letter she wrote to me in the 70s.  She wrote like she talked. I could almost hear her voice. I treasure that piece of paper because of that personal connection. Her handwriting was as unique as her personality.

Letter writing has become a lost art. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note, “A British survey found that the average time since an adult wrote anything at all by hand was 41 days.” A veteran elementary teacher told me, “It is a rare elementary school teacher who teaches handwriting skills.”

As long ago as 54 C. E., the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand,” implying that it was unusual.

I find that writing notes helps to develop a personal relationship with a client or to enhance a relationship with spouse or child. The personal hand-written note will help people remember you. When I write a thank-you note, a thinking-of-you note, or a note of encouragement, I think more about what I am going to say and usually have a more specific and personal message than if I am emailing or texting.

We want to have a professional website, an attractive business card, and always look our best when working with a prospective client. An added competitive edge is to make use of the personal note.

My mother wrote me once a week for years after I left home. I looked forward to the weekly epistle on Tuesday or Wednesday; her letters gave me a weekly boost.

When looking through her papers after her death, I found a letter I’d written, thanking her for all she had done for me. I guess the letter writing meant a lot to her as well.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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