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Just Starting Out And Having A Lot Of Issues

handwriting pen holding beginner

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8 replies to this topic

#1 dizny71

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 20:08

Hi everyone,

 

I'm just starting out with learning how to write properly and I'm having a ton of issues.  Let me start at the beginning so everyone knows where I'm coming from.  For starters, I'm left handed.  I'm not sure how much that matters but it might explain some issues I'm having so I thought I would start out with that.  I got interested in learning how to turn my chicken scratching into decent handwriting a few months ago.  I've watched various videos on Youtube and read different articles to figure out where to start.

 

I decided to start by attempting to learn Spencerian.  I picked up the kit offered by Mott Media from Amazon.  I got the theory book and all the practice books.  I've also looked into Ames Guide to Self Instruction as well as some other Spencerian books I found as PDFs.  I picked up a Pilot Metopolitan pen with an extra fine nib.  I like the pen alot but I can't seem to write with it very well at all.

 

I found out pretty quickly that I do not hold my pen correctly at all.  Right now I hold my pen with my second finger as the main force with the thumb below offering support and the first finger almost wrapped around the pen above the middle finger.  As I write, the middle finger does at least 90% of the work.  From what I've seen on Youtube and read, this is nor correct so I thought fixing my pen grip would be the best place to start.

 

I changed it by grabbing the pen with my index finger and thumb with the three fingers offering support under.  The problem I have with this grip is the pen rests on my middle finger right above the cuticle.  After just a few minutes this causes quite a bit of pain in my middle finger.  I know it's becasue I'm holding the pen too tightly but I don't really know how to fix that.  Even with my current grip I grip the pen too tightly causing my hand to cramp pretty quickly when I write.  I don't know how to fix this.

 

I looked online to see if there were some good pictures of how to hold a pen correctly.  It appears as if the grip I'm attempting to do with my first finger and thumb is the correct grip.  How do I get around the pain it causes on my middle finger?  Do I need to change my grip or is this not necessary?

 

I've started lesson 1 in the practice book but until I get the grip problem figured out I feel like I'm wasting my time.

 

Any suggestions?  Am I approaching this wrong?  I want to start out on the right foot per se, so I don't set new bad habits that I'm gonna have to go back and fix later on.

 

thanks for the help.

 

I've attached some pictures of how I currently hold my pen (image 4) and how I'm trying to modify it (image 5).  I'm holding a basic ball point but the hold is the same regardless of writing instrument.  Image 6 is showing how the pen puts pressure on my middle finger with the modified grip.

 

 

Attached Images

  • image4.jpg
  • image6.jpg
  • image5.jpg


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#2 ac12

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 21:19

I am right handed, so I don't know how this will translate to you.

 

I use a modified "tripod grip."  My fingers are about 2.5cm from the tip of the nib and my thumb about 4cm back.  This lets my hand hold the pen in a relaxed manner.  I found that when I move my thumb forward to be with my fingers, my hand get tense.  But this is just my hand, and my finger lengths.  Do a search for 'tripod grip' to see more ideas and discussions on this grip.

 

When you write, try to write with your arm.  What this means is that the pens stays relatively still in your hand, and your fingers don't move (much), and your arm moves your hand and the pen to form the letters.  If you were/are a finger writer, this change to arm writing will likely take a long time, as you retrain your arm muscles to do something it has never done before.  It took me 3 months of constant practice 1 to 2 hours every day, to change from finger writing to arm writing.  So hang in there, you can change, if you want to, I did.

 

You might want to get a Pilot Metro with a Medium nib.  This will make the writing a bit smoother than the Fine nib.

 

I use WIDE ruled paper and try to write to fill the entire vertical space between the lines.  For me this forced me to write with my arm, cuz I could not write that large with my fingers.  Also writing large made my mistakes more visible, so I could see where I had problems, and work on correcting the errors.  Write on every other line, so that you don't run into the decenders from the line above (f,g,j,p,q,y,z). 

 

Another option is to use college ruled paper and write on TWO lines, so there is a ruled line at the X-height to guide you for the height of the lower case letters (a,c,e,i,m,n, etc).  Then skip a single line before you write the next line of text.  This skipped line will be for the decenders  (f,g,j,p,q,y,z) of the line of writing above. 

 

A wide nib and narrow ruled paper make it easy to hide the mistakes.

 

gud luk


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#3 akustyk

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 23:22

First of all, congratulations on your attempts to improve your penmanship! Awesome work so far.

 

You're going to get a lot of help here (I hope) and might find out that peoples' opinions on how to write vary. My own philosophy is that the grip matters very little as long as you're comfortable and not hurting yourself. I've seen many calligraphers over the years, and each held the pen differently and used a different kind of arm/hand/finger movement. Their work was magnificent, regardless of the grip.

 

Your choice of books is already great. After you've gone through those two, you probably won't need another book.


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#4 haruka337

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 00:43

Forgive me if you mentioned it already (in a bit of an allergy haze), but have you practiced loosening the tension in your hand as you write? Sometimes it's not so much the grip, but the forced tension we apply when writing by hand. This was (at times, still is) a huge issue for me since the habit was so ingrained--no one ever corrected it. Always figured a good grip was a lot of tension and pressure.

Now, I shake out my writing hand to loosen it up. Keeping it relaxed, I place the pen in hand and gentle (still relaxed!) place my fingers into position (I use the same grip as you).

Now, this is important, don't let your wrist or base of your palm rest on the paper/surface, if you do, you will be writing from those points and things will become very painful quite fast. Keep the base of the palm/wrist off the surface and write with the movement coming from your upper arm (as I believe someone has already noted). Writing from the upper arms sounds weird, but when you allow that part of the arm to guide the writing movement (move nothing else!) one can write at length without pain.

Doing this takes a lot of practice (doodle and scribble when you first try it) and will feel incredibly odd, but once you get use to it; the payoff is high.

Good luck.


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#5 dizny71

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 17:47

thanks for all the great suggestions.  I think I found one of my issues.  I don't think I'm dedicating enough time to working on my handwriting.



#6 cattar

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 18:20

Write with a fountain pen.

Relax your hand. Let the pen rest in your hand. Don't press down on the pen. Don't press the pen into the paper. Hold it just enough to let it glide across the paper.
Consider learning Italic first. Then Spencerian.



#7 5Cavaliers

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 18:55

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR EFFORTS!  I highly applaud your determination! 

 

I, too, am left handed.  But I do not write overhand.  I place my paper angled comfortably for my left hand, as a right handed person does for the right hand (i.e. opposite direction).  I am of the generation (i.e. old) that when I was learning to write, my teachers wanted me to use only my right hand, and eventually would tie my left hand behind my back to force me to use my right hand.   Obviously, they don't do that any more. I tried, but it wasn't natural for me.   And I was such a stubborn kid, I eventually refused to learn how to write.  Finally, I had a wonderful teacher who taught me to print, then taught me cursive and later italic using my left hand just like people who are right handed.  She did this on her time after school.  By the time the rest of the class was beginning to learn cursive, I had moved on to learning italic.  She taught me the importance of penmanship, but also the importance of daily practice in both penmanship and creative expression through writing. Hooray for sensitive, caring teachers! 

 

I have had a chronic problem of gripping my pen too tightly. I finally started writing with a bit "fatter" pen which felt much more comfortable to me and I didn't grip as much.  I always felt that I would lose control of the skinner pen, so I held it tighter. 

 

I do not have a Pilot Metropolitan, so I can't speak to how well they write.  For me, my Lamy Safari, or Lamy Al-Star are the right diameter and weight.  I do prefer the weightier Al-Star, though.  Also, I prefer a larger nib such as a medium nib.  The ink seems to flow a bit easier. 

 

One thing that might help is to lightly lay your pen in your grip, then without much grasp, draw lines and circles - practice that before you start your writing exercise.  If you do that each time, it won't take long to re-learn not to tighten your grip of the pen.  My penmanship teacher used to come up from behind me and remove the pen from the hand. If the pen lifted lightly from my hand, then the tension is correct. 

 

Hope that helps.  I look forward to hearing more updates. 


"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours.  When it is gone, it is gone.  Be wise, but enjoy!  - anonymous today

 

 

 


#8 ac12

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 19:44

 

thanks for all the great suggestions.  I think I found one of my issues.  I don't think I'm dedicating enough time to working on my handwriting.

 

Yes, retraining your muscles to do something it has never done before requires a LOT of time.

Just keep repeating the motions (the different writing excercies) to get the muscles used to moving like it should.

Hang in there, it will come.

For some sooner than others, or later than others, but it will come.

 

What I did to make it easier for me was to write a daily journal.  I wrote down anything and everything; diary, stuff to-do, ramblings, plain old nonsence, etc.  And for me that is what kept me going.  I was writing something, not just loops.  It became a habbit, such that I don't feel right when I write only one page or skip a day.  I looked forward to picking up the pen and writing.  I ended up writing so much, that I started buying notebooks during the Staples back-to-school sale.  This was so that I could get notebooks cheap enough to not worry about how much I wrote.

 

gud luk


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#9 richiwalt

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 20:26

Hello dizny71,

 

I am right handed ... so ... not sure how to specifically offer left-handed suggestions.  Your milage may vary with the following:

 

I too found myself in a very similar situation as yourself.  I do not hold the pen correctly, and, with a LOT of practice over last 2 months, I have developed very pleasing results with basic spencerian styles - even with my "incorrect grip".  My fingers are correct ... but have my hand is rotated such that the heel of my hand is fully rested on the paper - not that nice 3rd and fourth fingernail "brace" that I want to eventually have.   However, even with my improper grip (and even it was a change from my former grip) I went ahead and learned the spencerian definitions of letter formation;  now I am more comfortably working to rotate my hand to the proper position a little at a time, and am playing with different bracing positions.  I just want to do this - I'm not sure how necessary this is.  

 

Several say that one should not get too caught up in any one "proper pen grip" - ( btw, I didn't like hearing that, but my results are pleasing enough and my speed is fairly good as well ... I can start to see what they mean.) 

 

At any rate, I applaud your determination ... give yourself time, practice, experiment a lot, (with both pen styles, letter sizes, nibs, inks, papers, etc ... ).   And, relax and enjoy each phase of the journey ... it's a lot of fun.  

 

I have an unfair advantage - I just love handwriting - and that seems to be a common theme here at FPN.   There is a lot of encouragement and support here ... so hang out often!!  

 

(You also might have some fun hanging out on the handwritten only thread.  It's a lot of fun, and offers the ability to see other's handwriting as well.)

 

Best Regards  







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