(Or, what the heck am I doing, writing for a pen blog?)

My name is Lou Rinaldi, and I am probably the last person who should be contributing to this blog; you see, I absolutely hate handwriting.

Allow me to explain. I work in the field of information technology, in a higher education environment. As you might imagine, I do a lot of typing. Ever since receiving my first computer in the 1980s (a Texas Instruments 99/4A), I have strongly preferred typing to handwriting. Learning how to write cursive in third grade was agonizing; I hated how cramped my hands got from using those oversized red square-edged pencils. My interest in computers as a hobby grew with me, and I soon found myself able to type much faster than I could ever write. I was the only student in my high school graduating class who regularly used a laptop for in-class work, long before geek was chic (think 1991-1995). Rather than handwrite an undergraduate final in one of those blue exam books, I begged the professor to let me sit in front of the entire class and type my answers on the lone computer in the classroom. I don’t think I hand wrote a single thing during all of grad school. And signing the myriad of legal documents when buying and selling real estate was the seventh level of hell for me.

So, what am I doing here? You’ll recall I mentioned that I work in higher education. A growing aspect of my job function involves interfacing with Ivy League faculty; talking with them face to face, gathering their feedback on various issues, and recording it in a non-disruptive manner. One thing I’ve learned quickly is that many of them appreciate a more conventional approach to note taking in these scenarios. That means leaving my laptop behind, and picking up a writing implement. The time has come for me to make my peace with the pen.

Now that you know a bit about my background and the perspective from which I’ll be approaching my contributions, I’d like to hear from you. What products do you recommend for someone in my shoes? What tricks or techniques should I know? How can I ease the transition from typing zealot to handwriting hero?

This post is by Lou Rinaldi, who can also be found at and on Twitter @LouRinaldi.

Posted on August 9, 2011 and filed under Guest Post.