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Suggestions For Improving My Handwriting?

handwriting improvement

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14 replies to this topic

#1 InkedGeek

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 01:36

I'm not really sure what I need to do/change to improve my handwriting.  Specifically that of my left hand.  It's always been decently legible, just not 'nice'-looking.  For a short background on why, I was switched back in elementary school, and by the time I had a teacher that would let me write left-handed (or probably--didn't try!) I couldn't write fast enough with that hand to take notes/etc.

 

So, samples:

writingsample_Dec2015.png

 

If not obvious, the smoother-looking samples were done with my right hand--the second and third blocks.  The first and fourth block were done with my left hand (and, yikes, sorry about that first sentence! gonna blame it on being a new pen I haven't written much with--it just glides on the paper, which I'm not at all accustomed to!).

Anyway, how do I make my left-handed writing look nicer/smoother/more natural?  I don't really care if it looks anything like my right hand, but it's the only thing I really have to compare it to (or to emulate)...which might not be a good thing!

But what is the best way to do that?  Just writing hasn't done it (in the past/last time about three years ago, and that was using--primarily--ballpoints to practice with...), although it did improve my writing speed a little.  I've held off further practice because I've long wanted to see if a fountain pen would be different (answer: yes, pretty sure it is), and I'd also like to practice better/actually make progress, if that makes sense?

Would just continuing to write now work/should I start there?  Or would it be better to learn something/start over?  But if so, what?  Anything look like it would be a good fit?  Anything particularly good/bad?

So, yeah...help?  Tips?  Suggestions?



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#2 Bobje

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 02:13

Similar question just answered yesterday in this thread. Italic would be a good way to start!

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Edited by bobjpage, 26 December 2015 - 02:13.

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#3 ac12

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 23:08

Your situation is similar to mine 3 years ago.
I decided that I wanted to clean up my LOUSEY handwriting.

I gathered letter forms from the internet (IAMPETH, etc.) to see what the letter forms should look like.
I also got the training instructions for Palmer.

Then I practiced, every day.

What I tried to do was to do the letter forms as shown in the examples I downloaded.
This required me to SLOW DOWN and be more deliberate. Because, changing letter form shapes from my old handwriting was almost like learning to write again. So I had to practice every day, to retrain my finger, hand and arm muscles to move in a way that they had never moved before. Initially it looked UGLY. So I concentrated on a few letters at a time, to get my muscles used to moving the way that I wanted them to. This is some of the practice drills in the Palmer lessons. Practice is about quality of the writing, not quantity. Speed will come as your muscles gain muscle memory and get used to writing the way you want them to.

Then I started writing a journal (you could also copy a book). This is to get you to write more to reinforce what you learned. Writing a sentence makes more of an impact to me than repeating a letter X hundred of times. And if I had trouble with a letter, I would go back to relearn the letter form.

I used WIDE ruled paper, and wrote so that I would fill the entire vertical space between lines. This was also a technique to force me to write with my arm, rather than my fingers.

Tip; for me there is a minimum speed that my writing strokes have to done with. Any slower and my writing gets shaky. Note that I said STROKES. You do not have to write continuously at a set speed. Each letter is made up of several strokes, and you can pause between strokes if you want to, I sometimes do. And not all of my strokes are at the same speed, some are slower or faster than others, but they are not too different in speed, or my writing pace will get messed up.

Tip; a narrow nib will show the path of your ink line better than a wide nib. The wide nib will hide some mistakes that are easily seen with a narrow nib.

Tip; if you are tired or just can't seem to write as you want to, STOP. Trying to push through will result in reinforcing what you do not want to do. You want to practice good writing, not garbage. Take a break and come back an hour later.

Tip; grip the pen LIGHTLY. A tight grip will develop into a hand cramp. If you can't easily pull the pen out from your hand, you are holding the pen too tight.

PS this is for handwriting when speed is not important, not for note taking. For note taking speed is important. In college, at the end of the day, I would rewrite my notes, so that I could read them. My note taking handwriting was LOUSEY, and if I did not rewrite the notes, I would not be able to read them in a week, after I had forgotten what I heard in the lecture.

Edited by ac12, 26 December 2015 - 23:09.

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#4 InkedGeek

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Posted 28 December 2015 - 03:57

bobjpage -- I've kinda avoided really looking into italic because a right slant is really, really hard to do with my left hand (it naturally wants to slant about 20 deg or so to the left, I think? not sure, I try to force it closer to vertical...which...well, see above for how well that has worked).  Can one use italic without the expected slant, or no?


ac12 -- My need for fast/extensive note-taking is long over, thankfully!  Other than by typing, that wouldn't even be possible for me now.  My left hand is still too slow (that I'm aware--I've not tested it), and my right can no longer handle that kind of volume.

Curious--how long did your writing look 'ugly'?  I never managed any real improvement before, but I didn't try to extensively change things/actually relearn letters, I just tried to write more, mainly (and fairly slowly, and get letters more consistent)...so not sure how long that might take before it starts looking better, especially if I *really* change things.

Most of those tips I've used in another attempt to get my writing nicer (and most have been applied to some degree or another, although this is by far the pen/pencil with the finest line I have), but I want to highlight this:

 

Tip; for me there is a minimum speed that my writing strokes have to done with. Any slower and my writing gets shaky. Note that I said STROKES. You do not have to write continuously at a set speed. Each letter is made up of several strokes, and you can pause between strokes if you want to, I sometimes do. And not all of my strokes are at the same speed, some are slower or faster than others, but they are not too different in speed, or my writing pace will get messed up.

 

I could be wrong, but I think there might be a minimum speed for me, too, as my writing generally gets worse if I write really carefully, for whatever reason.  And even though I was writing a bit too slow the first few sentences...the longer strokes (that were probably done a bit faster) looked smoothest.  I guess I'll have to see if fiddling with stroke speed makes a difference, but I do think I need to pick a goal of what to aim for, first!



#5 ac12

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Posted 28 December 2015 - 05:21

It took me about 3 months to get so that I would write with my arm naturally. Till then I would constantly have to watch and check that I was not regressing back to writing with my fingers.
Since I had not used my arm to write with, my arm muscles had absolutely no muscle memory at all for writing. I had to deliberately move my arm, to do what I wanted it to do. This was CLUMSY CLUMSY CLUMSY. The clumsiness gradually decreased as my arm got used to writing, and moving like I wanted it to.

So lets say that
The 1st week was UUUUUUUGLY.
The 2nd week was UUUUUUGLY
The 3rd week was UUUUGLY
The 4th week was UUGLY

In the beginning, it was UGLY for long time. Once my arm muscles got used to moving, things improved faster.
But even at the 3 month stage when arm writing was natural, my handwriting was still not as nice as I wanted it to be. Some letters looked OK, others still needed more work. Then I worked on overall refinement. Overall nice was probably another 3 or 4 months later.

I practiced at least 1 hour every day, many times up to 3 hours. I put in a LOT of time, because I knew I had to retrain my muscles to gain new muscle memory, and that was simply constantly repeating the motions till the muscles could do it without me thinking about it.

You will need to integrate stroke speed into your relearing.
Simple stroke excercise.
Write the letter M in cursive.
- short upstroke
- pause
- downstroke
- pause
- hump
- pause
- hump
- tail stroke

If you write too slow, you can't make a smooth stroke. At least I can't. So you will have to determine what your minimum stroke speed is, and try to keep above that.

Edited by ac12, 28 December 2015 - 05:29.

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#6 InkedGeek

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 16:30

Going to ask this question again: Can one use/learn italic without the expected (slight right) slant, or no?

 

Try as I might, I cannot get/keep a right slant with my left hand without turning the paper to where I cannot see what I'm writing, and at best my writing is really shaky with either too much/too little space, and if I persist everything gets worse and hand/wrist/neck/etc all starts aching.  So I've just gone to practicing with the left slant, but then some of the letters (namely a/o/d/q/g), just don't look 'right' anymore, and I still, after well over a week messing with them, can't decide how they should look!  The lack of being able to write with a right slant (or even fully, unfailingly vertical) is one reason my teachers used to make me write right handed, so I really don't think it's possible for me with that hand (and probably never will be, unless I switch to being an overwriter or something, and I've tried doing that, too, and just can't write that way! :( ).

 

I don't know if I should continue or not?  Or modify it or try something else?



#7 ac12

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 20:33

I thought italic was upright, IOW no slant.

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#8 InkedGeek

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Posted 13 January 2016 - 00:20

Some of the...I guess 'modern' italic seems to have no slant, but a slight right slant is more the usual from everything I had found.  My problem is, I can't seem to get rid of the left slant!  Which seems fine for most of the letters, except those based on the 'a' shape, which turn out too boxy/triangle-shaped...or something?  Makes me keep second-guessing how I should make those letters.

 

The letters do look all right/like they belong when written with a marker, due to, I guess, a much thicker line compared to letter size?  So maybe I just need to ignore it while practicing?  Or maybe I need to post an example?



#9 knarflj

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Posted 13 January 2016 - 16:07

InkedGeek, italic can be written upright, but normally has a slight slant to the right.  If you want a script that's designed to be written upright, you might want to look at

 

bookhand:

http://jp29.org/bh.htm

 

library hand (which is sometimes even written with a back-slant):

https://en.wikipedia...ki/Library_hand

http://cslib.cdmhost...005coll11/id/50

 

civil service hand:

https://books.google...opage&q&f=false

 

The advantage that italic has over all these is that there are lots of books and resources to help you learn it.  I don't know of any copybooks or other helps for these other hands besides those I've already linked, except for this one:

http://www.fulltable...a/artman/wr.htm

which is for a slightly slanted version of civil service hand.  Other resources may exist, of course; I haven't spent a whole lot of time digging for them. :)

 

Jenny


"To read without also writing is to sleep." - St. Jerome

#10 Randal6393

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    Love italic handwriting.

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Posted 14 January 2016 - 02:25

Italic can indeed be written without a slant. It's just that the pen angle, angle of the paper, and way your hand pulls the strokes seems to work out better with a slight slant. Formal italic, at the beginning, was closely related to Humanist Bookhand and was written upright or with a slight slant to the right.

 

Just for curios sake, German handwriting (various Gothic styles) had slants to the left, to the right, and upright. The only caveat one writing master, Wolfgang Fugger, put out was that a hand should be consistently slanted or consistently upright.

 

Enjoy,


Yours,
Randal

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#11 AAAndrew

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Posted 14 January 2016 - 02:54

slanting to the left was often called "backhand writing" and Esterbrook with their dip pens often said that their finer stub nibs were good for backhand writing. 

 

If you have a stub nib, try writing with the nib aligned parallel with the line of writing rather than at the angle used for italic. I'll see if I can find/write some examples tomorrow. I'm still not very good, but could at least give you an idea. 

 

And then you'll have to use all of the above advice. Slow, focus on letter forms (there really is not single, official way to write our letters), focus on basics first, then letters, then words, then sentences. Write a lot, slowly, and deliberately. Stop fairly frequently and check what you're doing right, and what you're doing wrong. It will come. 

 

The slant is more a matter of what's comfortable for you. You're not trying to become a formal calligrapher. You just want a more legible and pleasing handwriting. That leaves a huge range of acceptable styles and forms. 

 

The real base objectives are, clarity (not all smudged together), consistency (try not to have big and small letters scattered around, some in one style some in another), space (leave enough room between letters and between words to render with clarity), and these only come from deliberate and thoughtful practice. 

 

Good luck!



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#12 InkedGeek

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 18:01

knarflj / Randal - Problem is, I can't seem to manage writing it (italic) without a slant!  For whatever reason, it wants to slant to the left (and so slant ends up all over the place if I try to force it either to the right or upright).  If I let it slant left, though, it stays fairly consistent slant-wise...it just doesn't quite look like italic anymore!

Bookhand was the other 'maybe', but I went with trying italic first due to it seeming closer to my 'old' writing.  I also think I sort of learned italic at some point with my right hand.

The below is after about 2.5-3 weeks(?) of regular practice, then six days of no practice (due to the left-slant not wanting to leave and not knowing what to do!), with a few different pens/etc., written...not slowly, but a tad faster (and smaller) than I've been practising:
writingsample_Jan2015Various.jpg

If nothing else, it's more consistent than it was, maybe?  Which is definitely one of the main goals.  I also write 'o' correctly now (counter-clockwise, instead of mostly clockwise...oops).  I have *not* really tried fixing 'e', nor have I done anything with capitals as of yet.  Main/most recent focus has been on that first grouping of letters at the end of the examples (and they still look pretty awful/inconsistent).

Would continuing or would bookhand be a better option (but, then, what if that ends up with a left slant, too?)?  I don't know if I really want to try a (fully) joined/cursive hand, as it's much more difficult/slower than print is with my left hand (harder to keep going toward the right, but might be something to try in the future, maybe).


AAAndrew - The only stub-nibbed pen I have is a large-ish calligraphy marker (2mm or a bit less in width).  It mostly just results in a lot of ink on the page with my left hand due to the thick verticals, and makes me think a stub-nibbed pen would be...bad!  But I could also see a finer stub being okay, maybe...hard to tell for sure as it's not a good comparison/test!  My guess is that to get the typical/proper line variation, I'd need an oblique nib.  I don't know if I could turn that first pen above into something resembling a stub or not--tempting, as didn't spend much on it, it might actually get the pen to write, and I don't really like writing with it nib-down with my left hand--it catches or something.  Would that (or maybe trying to find a fine/narrower than the usual 1-ish mm stub) be something to try?  I wish I could find the other calligraphy pens my mom had (fountain pens, and probably a better 'test'), but they seem to have vanished.

Went ahead and put a (bad!!) example/attempt with the old marker.  Right hand (more proper pen angle), left 'new', left 'old-ish', then left 'new' bigger (last three with nib/tip parallel-ish to writing line...or that was the goal...obviously I didn't quite get the tip to stay fully on the paper all the time!):

writingsample_Jan2015Marker.jpg



#13 Randal6393

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 19:00

I don't think I would worry about it. Just keep practicing until you like your writing. And, since you can write with either hand, you can get your practicing done twice as fast. Just write with a pen in either hand at the same time.

 

Enjoy,


Yours,
Randal

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#14 knarflj

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 20:00

What Randal said. :)
 
I also just remembered a bunch of links I sent to a friend teaching a left-handed child a couple of months ago.  I have no idea whether you'll find any of them helpful, since I am myself right-handed*, but just in case . . .
 
 
There’s also a book that I keep seeing highly recommended in discussions of left-handed calligraphy:
Insights into Left-Handed Calligraphy, by Betsy Rivers-Kennedy
You can probably find other places to buy it, if you do a google search, but there are a couple of options to start with.  
 
 
Jenny
 

 

* I did make an attempt to print a few words left-handed - it looks as though a kindergartener got hold of my pen - and it seemed that if I slanted the paper to the right and used mostly whole-arm movement instead of my fingers (which would not have been coordinated enough to shape the letters anyway!), I could achieve an upright or slightly-right-slanted script. But of course learning for the first time is easier than relearning - and of course if I persisted long enough to make it look even remotely decent, I might find the slant harder than it seems to be now. :)

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#15 akustyk

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 00:05

You've got a lot of useful comments already, let me just add one small thing.

 

What makes handwriting of any kind look good is two things: (1) regularity/consistency in letterforms and spacing, and (2) a light touch/rapid movement. I think you should just stick to your existing handwriting, just improve consistency in your letters and lighten your touch. Practice every day for a few weeks. You'll see improvement, no doubt.

 

If you start from scratch with a new hand, say italic or cursive, you will need to wait a couple of years, at least, before you see consistent, effortless handwriting, but even then, it will need a few more years of practice.


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