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Thusly's Handwriting Improvement Log: Starting From Zero


thusly

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Done this morning, this was my best one yet. Slant continues

to plague me, but all of the letter forms were done much more

accurately relative to the example forms. And the real purpose

of this initial exercise -- pen angle -- seems, to me at least,

to be satisfactory enough for me to move on.

 

Thanks for sharing your progress. It's amazing how far you can go with the proper tools and a little practice.

 

I think everyone has problems with slant. I know I did and still do. Have you seen this thread? Slope Angles for All Scripts The idea is to tilt your paper such that when you make a stroke straight down, you end up with the correct slant.

 

I hadn't seen the thread, thanks! The beginning of the book I am using

actually discussed the technique linked in that thread, but also gave

the impression that it is better to keep the paper straight. No reason

was given, but I thought I'd follow the book as best as possible.

Specifically, the author writes:

 

The slant of the paper on the desk depends on the relation in the

height of the desk to the height of the chair and on the writer's

habits. It is preferable to have the paper as straight as possible.

 

Any ideas as to why this would be suggested?

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The slant of the paper on the desk depends on the relation in the

height of the desk to the height of the chair and on the writer's

habits. It is preferable to have the paper as straight as possible.

 

Any ideas as to why this would be suggested?

 

Unless you are willing to move the paper (or your chair) every few characters, having the eyes parallel to the writing line is very desirable. The brain's visual processing system is well trained (and fairly competent) making geometric compensations in that configuration and not so competent when the writing line is otherwise. (Having the eye line parallel to the writing line and the desk slanted so the page is parallel to the plane of the face is even better: much less on the fly geometry to do.)

 

BTW, I've frequently recommended the Eager book, which I worked my way through around 30 years ago.

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries

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Any ideas as to why this would be suggested?

 

Unless you are willing to move the paper (or your chair) every few characters, having the eyes parallel to the writing line is very desirable. The brain's visual processing system is well trained (and fairly competent) making geometric compensations in that configuration and not so competent when the writing line is otherwise. (Having the eye line parallel to the writing line and the desk slanted so the page is parallel to the plane of the face is even better: much less on the fly geometry to do.)

 

BTW, I've frequently recommended the Eager book, which I worked my way through around 30 years ago.

 

Thank you! I had wondered if something like this might be the case, and

even contemplated including in my previous message that I worried about

being able to easily maintain the 45º nib angle if I had the paper on a slant.

I use the baseline as my reference point for the angle, and with the baseline

on a slant it seems I'd have a harder time of this.

 

Your parenthetical remark may also help to explain my tendency to slouch

over the work, as when I do so I am making my face more parallel to the

paper.

 

I'll give it a try later this evening, but I am more interested in ensuring the

consistency of my nib angle at the moment than I am the slant of my writing.

If it seems it will hinder my progress with the former to aid the latter, I'll

probably continue with the paper being flush with the desk.

 

 

Nice to see another recommendation for the book, I am enjoying it thoroughly

so far.

Edited by thusly
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This is a great thread! Please keep posting samples, observations etc. It is really helpful to people who are also trying to improve their handwriting, like me.

 

I particularly like your comments about posture, that is:

 

I keep my left foot a little bit forward, as well as the left side of my body. This ensures that I put my weight on my left arm beside the work, and not on my right arm, allowing it to flow more freely. I do still slouch a bit, but this is something I can slowly improve with practice, and I fear the height of my desk relative to my chair may primarily be responsible.

 

Definitely something I can relate to during my own daily practice sessions. If I concentrate too much on letter forms, posture and grip tend to cramp. Works wonders for a short while, but it isn't something I can maintain for any reasonable amount of time.

journaling / tinkering with pens / sailing / photography / software development

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I really like this thread. Thank you - you are doing very well.

I'm not signing anything without consulting my lawyer.

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I really like this thread. Thank you - you are doing very well.

 

And thank you!

 

This is a great thread! Please keep posting samples, observations etc. It is really helpful to people who are also trying to improve their handwriting, like me.

 

I particularly like your comments about posture, that is:

 

I keep my left foot a little bit forward, as well as the left side of my body. This ensures that I put my weight on my left arm beside the work, and not on my right arm, allowing it to flow more freely. I do still slouch a bit, but this is something I can slowly improve with practice, and I fear the height of my desk relative to my chair may primarily be responsible.

 

Definitely something I can relate to during my own daily practice sessions. If I concentrate too much on letter forms, posture and grip tend to cramp. Works wonders for a short while, but it isn't something I can maintain for any reasonable amount of time.

 

Thanks! Yeah, there is definitely a fine balance to strike when it is something

you're working to improve. I don't doubt that after a sufficient period of time, the

mental load lessens as muscle memory increases. Up until that point though,

it is sometimes trying to sort out what I should be actively concentrating on --

posture or letterforms. Should I be telling myself that the top of my 'a' needs

to have a flat back-stroke, or should I be thinking about maintaining the right

hand position and feeling my fingernails move as I form the letter? Is it better

for me to write the letter badly, but fluidly? Or to write it properly, but lacking

smoothness?

 

Your own progress in your "Fun With Handwriting Practice" thread is actually what

inspired me to log my own progress, so it's really me that should be thanking you.

I did another practice page tonight, and was thoroughly unsatisfied with it, until I

took a look at my last post in this thread and realized that, while it is rife with

problems, it is still an awful lot better than where I was a few days ago.

 

I'll certainly continue to post my thoughts and progress in here, and hopefully you

will continue to do so as well.

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My desire to practice these last couple of days has been lessened by my body's

desire to be congested, cough, and sneeze. I did a bit of practice on the 3rd and

4th before the cold hit, and a little more this evening.

 

Posture

 

When I last spoke of posture, I wrote as if I had banished any problems related

to it into the past tense, which is not at all true. I want to make that clear in

case people think I went from being an über-deathgripping, right-arm-leaner to

one whose pen glides effortlessly across any portion of the page.

 

That is definitely not me. I still have a large tendency to lean on my right arm,

and further, a habit of not keeping my last two fingernails against the paper. I

am getting better about these things, but only through slow, constant reminders

as I write. Overcompensating doesn't help one any either -- sometimes I end up

trying to "fix" my leaning by actually exerting mild pressure upwards on my right

arm, in some unconscious effort to raise it slightly from the desk.

 

I've found the easiest way for me to remember the right weight distribution between

the two is to set both of my forearms onto the desk, and lean forward slightly onto

them. Then, lean to the left until it no longer feels like my right is supporting me,

but equally so, it doesn't feel like I am trying to raise it, or to lessen its weight

on the desk.

 

When I first read (from a number of sources) that having your last two fingernails on

the paper was a good way to keep your writing smooth, I felt certain that in my case

that just wasn't the case -- it felt awkward to twist my hand into that position, and

maybe my hand is just shaped or sized differently? I can no longer justify this desire

to hold my pen improperly. When I keep my hand in this position, my ability to write

improves. When I notice my writing getting jumpy or me having issues with slant, I

evaluate what I am doing as I write, and I've usually shifted away from using my

fingernails, into kind of letting the sides/tips of the flesh of those fingers touch

instead.

 

Practice

 

http://i.imgur.com/f9D4G.jpg

(Oct. 8.)

 

I had some minor technical issues while practicing tonight, but I believe I've

finally determined the cause. The flow of my pen would occasionally pause (you

can see some blobs on stems in the scan above). It turns out the inkjet printer's

ink is getting onto the nib tip, when I work on a practice sheet that involves me

copying letterforms. It would cause the ink to streakily fade away. Drawing a few

thick lines on scrap paper would get rid of the problem until more tracing was

done. Thankfully the amount of tracing I've been doing has lessened, as more and

more work is to be done on blank sheets with a guide.

 

One aspect of the book I am really enjoying is how well it sets you up to be able

to critique your own writing. I can cite numerous issues with every single word in

that practice sheet. When taken as a whole though, I can also say that it is

better than any previous piece I've yet done. My slant is somewhat more

consistent, as is my nib angle, and my adherence to the baseline and x-height.

 

I know that I still need to work on all of these things, as well as specific areas

where they go wrong more often (e.g., nib angle is too thick for my 's' letters,

as well as at the beginnings of lines).

 

On Paying Attention

 

At the back of the book there is a guidesheet, which you are to cut out, and then

paperclip behind a sheet of paper thin enough to see through and follow the lines

while writing. I scanned it in, and printed out a copy of it to do so (again, not

wanting to ruin the book). This is what I've been using for the past few practice

sessions when writing on blank paper.

 

Tonight, I clipped it to the paper, then did my page of words, finished, unclipped

it, and moved it aside. Except -- where are the guidelines? My guidesheet was

entirely blank. Both sides. That's odd. I could swear I saw guidelines while writing,

there's no way I wrote that straightly without them.

 

Wait...

 

Yes. Somehow I managed to paperclip a blank sheet to the guide sheet, then turn it

upside down, and write on the back of the guide sheet the whole time. So you can

clearly see the guidelines in the scan above, unlike the one previous. How I

managed to do this, I haven't the slightest idea, but boy am I proud. It also makes

me thankful I've been scanning and printing copies of things instead of using them

straight out of the book -- saves me from my own stupidity.

 

Future Practice

 

There's only two more pages of sample words and tracing, then the book moves on to

teaching you the cursive form of Italic handwriting (while also assigning you daily

homework for the calligraphic aspect). Instead of moving at that pace, I will most

likely continue to do practice sheets until I am comfortable with how my writing

looks in the calligraphic style. Or, at least, until it is at a uniform degree of

averageness.

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Wonderful thread. You had me at "Learn To Draw An Owl", I guffawed because I have lived through plenty of that. Then I got to see your struggles and admire your persistence. You are doing beautifully well! Regardless of what others say in this 'modren' world, you do have to practice and you do have to fail, and you do have to endure boredom and disappointment before you become good at something. Good for you.


 It's for Yew!bastardchildlil.jpg

 

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Wonderful thread. You had me at "Learn To Draw An Owl", I guffawed because I have lived through plenty of that. Then I got to see your struggles and admire your persistence. You are doing beautifully well! Regardless of what others say in this 'modren' world, you do have to practice and you do have to fail, and you do have to endure boredom and disappointment before you become good at something. Good for you.

 

Thank you! While my progress may be slowed due to the lack of use of handwriting

during my daily activities, it also means I never feel pressured about my progress.

If I am unable to practice for a few days, or if I seem to have even gotten worse, it

is just a part of the process. For someone who expects certain gains within a given

timeframe, I could see this being much more difficult.

 

 

I am just starting, my Lamy Safari (med nib) has not yet arrived. This is so cool! THANKS!

 

I saw your introductory thread in the New Members forum -- welcome! I understand you

aren't interested in calligraphy, just improving your cursive, but I hope this thread

is still of some use. Improving my cursive is my own primary goal, but I'll admit I have

no problem with the book insisting I need to first learn some calligraphy in order to

be able to do so. It transitions to cursive Italic handwriting soon enough, and perhaps

some of my thoughts on that subject will also be applicable to your own mode of

improvement.

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Hi, Thusly,

 

Welcome to the Fred Eager Fan Club! My first encounter with this book was in 1975. I changed over to an Italic hand within six months and have been writing with a broad-edged pen ever since. Can't say I am a calligrapher, even though I have practiced many medieval (and earlier) hands. Still write at least a few lines every day in a journal or two.

 

Hope you continue to be as thrilled with italic cursive and continue to learn as time goes by. Best of luck to you,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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Thusly,

 

Nicely done, inspired me to order the book, minutes ago.... hoping all pages are there as it is used. My writing is very much in need of help... Keep up the great post, you are an inspiration. :clap1:

If you think everything is going well... you obviously have no idea what is really going on!

 

 

 

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Hi, Thusly,

 

Welcome to the Fred Eager Fan Club! My first encounter with this book was in 1975. I changed over to an Italic hand within six months and have been writing with a broad-edged pen ever since. Can't say I am a calligrapher, even though I have practiced many medieval (and earlier) hands. Still write at least a few lines every day in a journal or two.

 

Hope you continue to be as thrilled with italic cursive and continue to learn as time goes by. Best of luck to you,

 

My sincere thanks. I tried to improve my hand a few years back, even bought a book to

do so, but it ended up being less of a, "follow along and do these things exactly" sort

of instructional book, and more of a, "here are some general guidelines to improve with"

kind of book. It did not show you how to form the letters, nor did it have you trace

anything.

 

Fred Eager's methodology, on the other hand, has helped me to improve greatly already.

Even if I gave up right now, I would do so with some knowledge of good letter formation,

with better posture, grip, control, and with the ability to judge my own writing and better

see where I need to improve. Maintain a consistent slope, x-height, etc.

 

I am definitely a part of the fan club, just waiting on my membership badge at the

moment.

 

Thusly,

 

Nicely done, inspired me to order the book, minutes ago.... hoping all pages are there as it is used. My writing is very much in need of help... Keep up the great post, you are an inspiration. :clap1:

 

Great to hear! If some of the book has writing in it, just let me know which pages you

need and I can send you copies of the ones I've scanned in (up to around page 40 so far).

I would love to see someone else showing their progress through the book, by all means

feel free to do so in here whenever you'd like.

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I think everyone has problems with slant. I know I did and still do. Have you seen this thread? Slope Angles for All Scripts The idea is to tilt your paper such that when you make a stroke straight down, you end up with the correct slant.

 

This is taken from an Italic Handwriting book by Tom Gourdie. This illustration demonstrates positioning of the paper relative to the edge of the desk, for italic handwriting. As you say, the topic you've quoted (above) extends this technique as a method for writing all scripts at any angle, with the paper turned counter-clockwise, so that the slope line is always at right angles to the body.

 

Ken

 

http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd289/caliken_2007/Gourdie300.jpg

Edited by caliken
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Thanks, it will be interesting for me as I am a lefty, so far I have overcome most issues being an underwriter, but this will be a challange. I must say though that the improvement shown in such a short time with your work is amaazing...looking forward to getting started.

If you think everything is going well... you obviously have no idea what is really going on!

 

 

 

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I think everyone has problems with slant. I know I did and still do. Have you seen this thread? Slope Angles for All Scripts The idea is to tilt your paper such that when you make a stroke straight down, you end up with the correct slant.

 

This is taken from an Italic Handwriting book by Tom Gourdie. This illustration demonstrates positioning of the paper relative to the edge of the desk, for italic handwriting. As you say, the topic you've quoted (above) extends this technique as a method for writing all scripts at any angle, with the paper turned counter-clockwise, so that the slope line is always at right angles to the body.

 

Ken

 

http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd289/caliken_2007/Gourdie300.jpg

 

Thanks for the additional information. Tom Gourdie is one of four names I see come up quite

regularly in discussions of italic handwriting resources (the others being Edward Johnston,

Fred Eager, and Alfred Fairbank). I'll look into picking up a copy of this.

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Thanks, it will be interesting for me as I am a lefty, so far I have overcome most issues being an underwriter, but this will be a challange. I must say though that the improvement shown in such a short time with your work is amaazing...looking forward to getting started.

 

Best of luck! At every reference to pen angle and posture, the book also includes

information for left-handed writers. I will say it tends not to go into as much

detail as the information for right-handed writers, but hopefully it will still be of

help.

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Thanks, it will be interesting for me as I am a lefty, so far I have overcome most issues being an underwriter, but this will be a challange. I must say though that the improvement shown in such a short time with your work is amaazing...looking forward to getting started.

 

Best of luck! At every reference to pen angle and posture, the book also includes

information for left-handed writers. I will say it tends not to go into as much

detail as the information for right-handed writers, but hopefully it will still be of

help.

 

Look on eBay for "Calligraphy made easy" by left-handed calligrapher, Gaynor Goffe.

 

Ken

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Thanks guys for the info on lefties, I did order the "Calligraphy made easy" by left-handed calligrapher, Gaynor Goffe and have a couple of pens to choose from, but leaning towards the AlStar with 1.5mm LH Oblique.

 

RW

If you think everything is going well... you obviously have no idea what is really going on!

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another large delay in between my progress posts, unfortunately. October is a busy time for

my family (with, I might add, far too many birthdays), leaving me with little time to practice.

I've gotten bits in here and there over the past two weeks, but no sizeable improvements have

been made.

 

I really wanted to push through the last bit of pure calligraphic work, and have finally managed

as much.

 

http://i.imgur.com/DPJPF.jpg

(Oct. 12)

 

http://i.imgur.com/GcW0r.jpg

(Oct. 14)

 

This was an examination of my problem letters, and some practice improving them. It's the final

true "exercise" for Project II in the book, as you are then instruced to move into a daily practice

routine.

 

http://i.imgur.com/FJUS6.jpg

(Oct. 17 - Oct. 23)

 

Did I say daily? Not only did I manage to miss four consecutive days in a row, when I began again,

I managed to do so at the wrong letter. While I could've come back on the 23rd and filled in the

other days' practice lines, I'd only really have been cheating myself.

 

I now have a daily alert to remind me of this task, and hopefully it will soon enough become an

ingrained habit. To be explicit, the daily practice is writing out five letters of the alphabet,

three times each. It takes all of a minute to do, and I can think of no good excuse for not being

able to find that much time every day.

 

Project II ends with asking the student to copy out a few quotes that it provides.

 

http://i.imgur.com/iVSCG.jpg

(Oct. 24)

 

http://i.imgur.com/oLHSN.jpg

(Oct. 24)

 

http://i.imgur.com/1jM9C.jpg

(Oct. 25)

 

I have absolutely no plans on taking that last quote to heart, though. Indeed, I will complain directly

about it: I was having an awful time with my pen this morning, with it continuing to fail to start,

especially so when doing a back-stroke. That doesn't excuse the other issues with the writing of that

quote, of course, but it certainly didn't help things. That's also the longest passage I've yet written,

which likely added to the pressure.

 

I've included these quotes at a larger scale than my other images, as when I shrink them down the problems

with them become less apparent. At this scale, you can clearly see my numerous pain points.

 

I haven't included any scans of my "regular" writing recently, but will be sure to do so soon, along with

some more comments on posture, and other miscellaneous observations.

 

The project I now move into in the book is the beginning of cursive, however it is much shorter than I would

have guessed: Only 3 pages of practice sheets are dedicated to teaching you the joins. I'll be trying to move

through the book at a faster pace once more, so expect more frequent updates, and, with any luck, more

visible progress.

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