Bad Writing Is Good Business

This observation is not at all backed by scientific evidence and you should definitely take this perspective with a healthy sprinkling of salt. Maybe there really is something to this, though it’s probably a lot harder to notice in this day and age of digital communication. After all, how can you judge the penmanship of a blogger when all you see are the typed words on your computer screen? Either way, follow me on this one.

Scribbles on the Page

Have you ever noticed that people with notoriously bad writing tend to be more successful in their careers? The stereotype goes, for example, that medical doctors tend to have really bad handwriting. If you’ve ever looked at the writing on your prescription, you probably had a really hard time discerning what exactly your family physician wrote on there. The issue is, of course, further complicated by the fact that you probably don’t know many of these drug names.

Clearly, one of the greatest skills that a respected pharmacist can have is the ability to decipher the cryptic handwriting of your typical family doctor. Maybe that’s part of the reason why more and more prescriptions are being sent and recorded digitally these days, along with all sorts of other medical records. That way, no one has to try and figure out the doctor’s chicken scratch.

And it’s not just doctors either. Many high-ranking executives and CEOs of large multinational corporations can have very hard-to-read handwriting too. And these individuals enjoy a great deal of professional success. They’re really good at what they do, and they make a lot of money doing it… all while having handwriting that even the best of executive assistants and interns can struggle to get just right every time.

But, why is that? Why is it that people with poorer handwriting — both printing and cursive, for that matter — tend to be more successful? I have a theory.

The Object of Their Attention

There are some people out there who have very attractive handwriting. They might even be the people who dabble in calligraphy or they’ve worked for years on perfecting their cursive. However, these same individuals may spend more time focusing on how their writing looks and less on the actual substance of the content. They’re more concerned about getting the writing to look a certain way and perhaps less concerned with what they are actually writing.

And while there is certainly nothing wrong with caring about how things look, it does illustrate (no pun intended) the spectrum between art and practicality. Someone who is perhaps more concerned with the practicality and content may be less concerned with the details of appearance. They just want to get the ideas right, and the precision is of less importance. Maybe. A correct diagnosis with the right prescription is much more meaningful to a family doctor.

And maybe the archetype of the starving artist emerges from this kind of framework too. The writing may be aesthetically pleasing, and the art may be profound, but the artist may be less concerned or less skilled with the details on the business side of things. Maybe. Maybe they think a lot more about the value of art for art’s sake, for holding up a mirror to society. Or maybe I could be completely off the mark.

Bending the Rules

Now, of course, there are going to be all sorts of exceptions to this observation. I’m certain there are plenty of highly successful people out there with very pretty handwriting, just as I’m certain there are plenty of messy scribblers who don’t do so well professionally either. But, this is just my observation. Have you noticed the same?

Do you have nice handwriting? Or does your cursive look like something a 6-year-old would produce? Let’s just say I’m glad I get to type my blog posts.