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Improving penmanship and arthritis

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I wish to improve my scrawl but also have arthritis. Most days it is not too bad but does flare up occasionally and can limit my fine control.  I was taught cursive in school way back when but it has had years of learning bad habits. My printing on the other hand is very good.  At the local museum where I volunteer I am the chosen one 🧐 for labelling artifacts


 I have done some snooping around and have a copy of  The Art of Cursive Penmanship: A Personal Handwriting Program for Adults by Michael R. Sull on order.   I don't wish to have too much of a flourish and hope that this booklet is of a simpler cursive style.  I want to get back to writing letters and away from emails as much as I can.


Any other suggestions?


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You could try the Palmer method



it emphasizes using larger muscle movements “whole arm movement” so that might help since it requires less use of the finger/finer muscles?…

Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

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1 hour ago, IThinkIHaveAProblem said:

You could try the Palmer method



it emphasizes using larger muscle movements “whole arm movement” so that might help since it requires less use of the finger/finer muscles?…

Thanks. I will look into it.  



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I'd look at a few factors:


1. Do you have a pen that allows you to hold and manipulate the pen without excess grip pressure? Is it wet/smooth enough to glide smoothly on your chosen paper? A lightweight pen with triangle grip can make this quite nice provided that you are comfortable holding the pen that way. I find Lamy Safari's excellent in this regard. Another option is a grip with a section wide enough to avoid a pinching motion with your fingers, such as the lightweight but thicker Japanese pens. This will tend to encourage the use of larger muscles in your hand to do the writing. At the total opposite end of the spectrum, some people find that holding large pens is simply intractable, and in that case, a hyper skinny pen might work better if that reduces the muscle strain (like a CP1). Anything that will anchor into your hand with minimal effort and not have a tendency to rotate on you will probably help, whatever pen does that best for you. 


2. The speed of your writing. Writing at a speed that allows you to gain rhythm and flow and therefore use some momentum and the pivot of your writing anchor point to aid in consistent forms will make a big difference. Trying to go too fast or too slow tends to induce more muscle strain. 


3. Figuring out the right muscles to engage and allowing the joints to move as freely as possible through the motion with minimal muscle engagement. Generally this will work best if you can relax your fingers and use your wrist and shoulder to do the motion. In either case, the muscles of your arm are more capable of handling that action than the fingers of your hand are likely to be able to (there's a better power-to-weight ratio). If you use an Italic hand, then anchoring at the palm and doing a gentle swing of the wrist can net great results. This exercise of the wrist in this fashion can increase fluid to the joints in that area and promote blood flow, which tends to help arthritis over the long run (or so people who have been to therapy tell me), but it requires minimal muscle engagement while doing it to avoid strain. If you do Palmer in the classical sense, then you can do oval drills to get your shoulder endurance and precision up and then you will not need to rely on the fingers or wrist as much. 


Sull's book is an excellent one, and he has a lot of really good pieces of traditional writing advice. I think if you pay attention to the body mechanics that he describes, you'll likely find a lot there that could help. His isn't the only strategy that works, though. I would also check out Getty-Dubay and Briem for an alternative perspective, as well as perhaps reading the Palmer Method manual from the 1930's. Each has a unique strategy for handling biomechanics of writing. If you like, Floyd Reynold's videos on Italic penmanship are on Youtube and one of the early videos discusses the wrist-based writing motion. Sull teaches a variation of the traditional Spencerian combined motion, which uses fingers, wrist, and arm swings. The key for comfort when doing that is a light grip and staying in the writing zone that he talks about. If you stray from that, you'll have a tendency to tense and strain. Stay inside of it and things are easier. 

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I can relate to the OP.  On a good day, when I can relax my grip and take the time to draw my letters, I can write a grade or two above 'legible.'  But on some days, it is difficult, and I find myself getting back into my old, bad habits; then my writing becomes a tight, barely legible mess, which I hate to look at.  I blame the arthritis, at least in part, impatience after that, but I know people (my 91 y.o. mother for one) who have much worse arthritis than I do, who continue to function (not her writing, though).


In any case, I am going to try a couple of these recommended books as practice guides and continue to try to improve my everyday writing.


Thanks to all the contributors for their suggestions!

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Thanks for all the feedback folks. I have plenty to dig into :)

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Switching to a cursive letters can help tremendously, below is an exemplar for French cursive.


http://ekladata.com/aliaslili.eklablog.com/perso/affichage/les lettresalphabet modeles.pdf


Writing bigger letters helps a lot, I switched from Seyes ruling to Rhodia grid, a long time ago.


Writing everything with fountain pens with a medium to wide girth and without a step between the grip and the body of the pen.


Also measure the distance between the tip of your index finger and the webbing between that finger and your thumb, any pen you buy should be the same length or longer. 


All my mechanical pencils, wood pencils and lead holders are fitted with the little cushioning triangles that are sold for children, during back to school.


As a child, I had horrible cramps, when I was forced to use Bic sticks ballpoints. The cramps left when I bought a 4 color Bic pen and started to write with fountain pens.



Is it fair for an intelligent and family oriented mammal to be separated from his/her family and spend his/her life starved in a concrete jail?

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17 minutes ago, Anne-Sophie said:

Writing everything with fountain pens with a medium to wide girth and without a step between the grip and the body of the pen.

THIS!  I will add that gripping a 'fatter' pen is easier even for small hands, hence the 'fat' pencils made for pre-school and kindergarten children. LINK: fat pencils – PENCIL REVOLUTION!

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