Guidelines on Better Handwriting

Greetings to all!

Recently, I was contacted by a good friend and Fraternity member about advice on how to get better at handwriting. Let me first say, I am no expert. I scroll through social media often and see the images of exquisite lines and curves that form beautifully crafted words. Then I look at my best attempts...Not. Even. Close.

But that doesn't stop me from trying. In fact I recognize my quirks in my handwriting as my personal flair. How many of you have thoughtfully crafted the way your signature looks? Chances are most of us have done this. Handwriting is similar. Instead of deciding how you want your name to look on paper, we decide how we want everything to look when we decide to write it down.

As a follower or a general reader of this blog, you likely understand the goal of journaling and writing. You like to hand write letters, you like nice paper, a good pen, and maybe even a wax seal. For whatever reason, it just feels right, doesn't it? "But RJ, my handwriting is terrible and it stops me from pursuing my goals of sending personal correspondences and notes to people I care about and love...What do I do?"

Well, lucky for you...I just happen to have my own layman's advice on the topic of getting better at handwriting. Here goes:

  • Get a $15 calligraphy set from Manuscript. Buy it HERE. They are cheap and come with little guide that shows what your letters should look like in the way of calligraphy . You want to practice these letters just a few times. The goal isn't to be letter perfect. The goal is to be distinctive. e.g. When you write a word, to be able to pick out each letter instead of a vague gist--"I think that's an "a", or is it an "o"..." We should be able to tell what it is and so should you. I know you might be saying, "Calligraphy? I just want to write better." Trust me. Practicing the art of each letter aids us in the process. 
  • Write larger than you're used to. The larger size will accommodate your goal of seeing each letter for being a letter and not a squiggly line that you're mind has to guess about. Also, the larger letter will allow your muscles to feel the curvature of each letter. You will become more aware of what it feels like to write a letter. 
  • Using a calligraphy pen will give you a way to uniquely appreciate each letter as you write it. Again, don't be concerned with perfection. Instead focus on how the letter looks in calligraphy. Can you make it your own when you switch to a pen without a fancy tip (a nib)? Yes you can. 
  • Every time you need to write something, use that pen (the calligraphy pen). Groceries, to do:, it doesn't matter. Use it for everything. This is the practice element of it all. The part that sucks.
  • Remember that cursive is not for speed. That's decidedly anti what it is for. It's script. So slow down. Say each letter in a word as you skate along the paper. This helps the motion of your hand replicate what it's supposed to be. You're not sailing through the fog right? You're turning your thoughts into an artistic expression that will be read by someone. It will make an impression. 
  • When you feel like you've made adequate progress, when you know what the calligraphy letters look like and you can do them without referring back to the sheet, then switch to a fountain pen. Pick up an old Sheaffer or something. Even a new Pilot Metropolitan. Buy on HERE. The fountain pen gives you the feel of calligraphy but the ease and convenience of a modern roller ball.

I suppose that's it for now. Get started with those steps. Remember not to over invest at first. No need to go buy a $200 pen, iron gall ink, $1 per sheet paper, wax and a seal. Not yet. Just find a calligraphy pen, buy some ink cartridges and practice. Yep...I said cartridge ink. No need to get nuts yet. At my level, I buy fancy paper at the second hand stores when they have it. I buy $7 antique pens that I clean using $5 cleaner and a paper towel. I use ink cartridges that I get at Office Max for $5. The point is, the investment isn't huge at all. The pay off, well...that's something that IS huge.

If your interested in practicing with a purpose, let's be pen pals. I could use the practice too. All the best to you all! Happy writing!