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My Handwriting Journey (An Epiphany!)

cursive handwriting

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#1 jhylkema

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 05:20

For those of just tuning in, I've been into pens for about exactly a year now.  I got started when I found out I could go back to school (for freesies!) and figured some nice pens and stationery would make the job of note-taking in class easier, and I wasn't wrong.

 

Anyway, I first started learning to write cursive in grade three in Catholic school and I was awful at it.  Absolutely awful.  If I had a dollar for every time I'd been literally screamed at about my handwriting by my mother and my teachers, I would have not have to be going back to school today.  In fact, I was told I would never amount to anything, and would certainly never be able to get a job in IT, because I had trouble with handwriting, long division, and memorising multiplication tables.  (Incidentally, these fights, after which my mother and I wouldn't speak to each other for several days, are a big reason why I initially broke off all contact with that part of my family in the late 1990s, and did so permanently in 2003.  I mention this because I'm guessing a lot of other people have had similar experiences, but I digress).

 

Around grade 10, I finally gave up, ditched cursive, and just wrote in block print and have done so to this day.  My block printing is nice and readable, except for two things:  One, I can't write more than a few lines before my hand cramps up.  Two, once that happens, and especially if I'm trying to write fast, my handwriting degenerates to an illegible scrawl.  About a month ago, though, I picked up Michael Sull's book on American cursive handwriting.  I started doing the drills and very quickly realised the problem:  Writing with just fingers is hard.  Nobody can do it for more than a short time without hand cramps.  However, writing with the help of the wrist, forearm, and shoulder muscles is much easier.

 

Ay, there's the rub.

 

So, here I am re-learning how to write.  I'm still very new so I won't be posting my cursive handwriting anytime soon, doubly so since I've developed so many bad habits around writing using only my fingers that will likely take a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears to break.  Once I get comfortable enough with cursive to start using it as my daily handwriting again, I want to graduate to some ornamental penmanship and maybe even calligraphy.

 

Does this struggle sound familiar to anyone?  And why in the eff don't they teach arm muscle use in school?!?



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#2 _InkyFingers

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 05:29

I don't know about a Sull book...But I do have a copy of Palmer's Budget Penmanship.

Yes...Muscular movement is what propelled me to.
 

Cursive as in American cursive or Italic cursive, the same principle can be applied.

Use mostly muscular movement (full arm movement) to practice.  The fulcrum can be either the underside

of the hand or the fleshy part of the arm.

 

It will take you some time to get used to...and when you get it...boy it is no rocket science at all.


Edited by _InkyFingers, 27 April 2019 - 06:00.


#3 BaronWulfraed

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 16:58

Hmmm... something just hit me... I wonder if "writing" with a computer mouse and paint program would be of use -- I just realized my mouse movements are, for the most part, "whole arm" (some side-to-side is wrist action). Setting mouse parameters to "no acceleration" would enforce mouse to screen exactness (most mouse drivers implement an acceleration option wherein fast mouse movement crosses more screen space than the same distance moved slowly).

 

After practicing that way, slip a pen into the fingers, and try on actual paper.

 

{NOTE: I don't intend to be the experimental subject for this -- it was just an observation that hit me when scrolling this thread}



#4 N2theBreach

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 03:40

Yes, my handwriting improved once I learned to engage my whole arm. My writing used to be tiny and cramped. Now, it is larger, with spacing between the letters, and much smoother than it once was. It does take work, though. I find, too, that it is like playing a musical instrument. I cannot simply stop once I have mastered something. I have to keep practicing or else I regress.

#5 AAAndrew

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 15:36

I also got consistently poor handwriting. I abandoned cursive in 8th-grade and didn't pick it up again until about four years ago. Learning how to write with dip pens forced me to learn "muscular movement" writing which has greatly improved my cursive as I re-taught myself. 

 

I now write pretty much everything in cursive, and it's just as fast as printing, unless I want it to be particularly neat, then it can be slower than my messy printing. But anytime you want to write neatly you have to slow down. 

 

Here's an example of what a year can do. The bottom one is from 2015 and the top from 2016. 

 

Good luck with your journey. 

 

fpn_1557156864__writingcomparison2015-20



“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928



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#6 _InkyFingers

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Posted 07 May 2019 - 03:02

nice¡ Andrew...lets see your 2019¡

#7 AAAndrew

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Posted 07 May 2019 - 13:53

Just my normal handwriting, it's nothing special. I'm so far from a calligrapher, and that's ok. It's about penmanship anyway. 

 

fpn_1557237114__2018_12_20_example_of_wr



“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928



Check out my Steel Pen Blog


"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne


#8 _InkyFingers

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Posted 07 May 2019 - 22:58

22jRZxp.jpg

#9 sidthecat

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 01:30

I was estranged from my mother for about forty years, but it wasn’t about penmanship. However, I’d encourage you to please yourself first.
I’ve used several models for penmanship, each more eccentric than the last so my advice is pretty useless (I stand by the “please yourself” bit, though). I would recommend you get an idea of the scale of whatever examples you end up using. The medieval script I’ve doted on was written very small and very fast, which when enlarged looks impossible to reproduce at scale. If you don’t know this, your practice can become very frustrating.
That said, good hunting!

#10 Chmara

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 01:05

Your story resonates with me but left out two impediments in addition to the yelling, put-downs and you are going be a failure n everything cues you received.  One is being deliberately switched back and forth between cursive and printing, another is starting off left handed, then being forced into trying to switch hands without success while switching back and forth between cursive and block.

I was 75 years old before I tried to learn cursive again and have been slowly progressing to legibility but with still mixed and inconsistent slant and letter forms when I try to write as fast as I think.

 

I also leanred that right handers sympathetically trying to help lefties are good at heart-- but lousy on technique that works when the pen is sharp and in your left hand. You got to develop a free spirit and try (often failing) different ideas.  Some people  turn the paper to 90 degree angles, some overwrite, some develop back-slants that are consistent and legible -- and some mix different techniques.

 

But the most important things I have learned is to PRACTICE daily -- choose a consistent set of things that work pleasingly for yourself and are consistent in legible result -- AND -- slow down with deliberation.  Remember that keyboarding today goes very fast, and shorthand was developed in the hay-day of script, pen and ink, because one could not write legibly at the speed of speech, let alone thought.  Eventually speed comes but it only follows (damn it) mindful practice, practice, practice.

 

I find drills, stroke exercises, etc. for adults are boring to me.  I try to "journal" thoughts and ideas daily, no matter how inane or stupid, with care to HOW I am writing.  I often resort to the old Monte Python script writer's trick of listiong every word I know that defines, colors and is a synonym for a word I am using, putting down, writing, scribbling, inking, jotting, inscribing, etching, relating, scripting, recording or adding to my practice page.

 

Most of all -- have fun and get rid of those critical voices we all have imbedded, remembered, haunting or ingrained on our brains.







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