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When someone asks, “How can I improve my handwriting?” they usually look for a few things they can easily implement to make their writing look more legible or presentable.
The problem is that handwriting is a habit deeply ingrained in both the mind and the muscles, so even a tiny change can be difficult to implement.
I’ve always taken a different approach to helping people with their handwriting, one that might require a little more time and commitment but gives the writer all the tools they need to take their handwriting as far as they like.
The approach is to first understand how handwriting works on a basic level, then apply that understanding to improve your own handwriting.
Understanding the Fundamentals of Handwriting
If you don’t understand how handwriting works fundamentally, you will always feel lost when trying to improve your handwriting, even if you are following the advice of a handwriting expert.
When you understand how handwriting works, everything becomes clear. You will know things like:
- Why the letters have different heights
- Why the letters are spaced the way they are
- Why the letters have different forms yet work together to create a cohesive script
- The way to position your body, hold the pen, and position the paper for optimal writing
- Why someone’s handwriting is more legible or visually pleasing than another’s
I hope you can see that if you understand all the above, improving your handwriting will be a walk in the park.
So your first task, if you want to improve your handwriting, is to learn the fundamentals of handwriting.
The best way to do this is to study a proven handwriting system.
Any time-tested system will do. I recommend American Cursive because it is a beautiful, legible script.
I also have a free course that will teach you everything you need to know about American Cursive.
Regardless of what script you choose, by studying one, you will learn how handwriting works, and you will be able to apply what you’ve learned to any other script, including your own chicken scratch.
By studying a script like American Cursive, you will learn these important concepts and more:
- Body position, pen grip, and paper position
- The grid, or how the lines printed on the page (and the imaginary ones that aren’t) work with the letters
- How to write across the page
- How a script builds on fundamental strokes and repeats those strokes throughout the alphabet
If you want a taste of how important the fundamentals are, I suggest you watch the video below titled “The Cursive Grid,” which is from my free online cursive course.
What Do You Want Your Handwriting to Look Like?
When you study American Cursive or any other script, you will learn to write in that style, but that doesn’t mean your personal handwriting needs to look exactly like the script you are studying.
That said, traditional scripts like American Cursive were successful for a reason.
They evolved out of the culture in which they were created and have stood the test of time as legible, visually pleasing scripts.
You cannot go wrong by trying to emulate a traditional script, and no matter how hard you try, your script will always have personal quirks that are unique to you.
The great thing about studying a traditional script is that you have a very clear and defined vision to work towards.
Every traditional script has an exemplar, which is the ideal letterforms that comprise the script.
With an exemplar in hand, you know exactly what your goal is, and you can always compare your handwriting to the exemplar to see where you are falling short.
If you want your handwriting to have its own unique flavor, I suggest you at least find a traditional script to use as a base.
That way, you can take the exemplar from a traditional script and modify it to make it your own, which is much easier than creating an exemplar from scratch.
Of course, you can create one from scratch too, but it takes a lot of time to do it right, and the result won’t be as good unless you understand handwriting at a high level.
Let’s be clear, you need an exemplar. Without an image of the ideal letters, you will wander aimlessly and waste a lot of time while making little improvement.
Whether you are studying from the exemplar of a traditional script or your own unique creation, you will be armed with everything you need to improve your handwriting.
You’ve Done the Work, Now Apply It
I know, I know.
You’ve already done a lot of work.
Learning the fundamentals of handwriting is no small task and creating your own exemplar takes time too.
The good news is that your handwriting will already look much better by this point.
That’s because your understanding of handwriting is naturally solving the problems with your handwriting without you having to do anything except pay attention while you write.
Of course, there are more active things you can do to improve your handwriting at this stage.
When you understand the fundamentals, improving your handwriting is a straightforward process –
- identify errors,
- and figure out why you are making the errors.
If you can see an error in your writing and then understand exactly why you are making that error, resolving the error is pretty easy.
Here’s an example.
As you can see, our friend’s handwriting here is very cramped in the horizontal direction.
Fixing this is pretty easy because he’s done the work and understands the basics of handwriting.
Our friend was able to fix this problem because he understands that spacing is controlled by the movement of the hand and that movement is limited by the hand’s range of motion.
He is trying to write too many letters without picking up his hand and moving it to the right.
The problem was easily solved by pausing more often to move the hand and continue writing with proper spacing.
This is just one example of how improving your handwriting works when you have an understanding of the fundamentals.
You have all the tools to identify, analyze, and resolve issues with your handwriting.
How much you want to improve your handwriting is up to you.
As you improve your handwriting, the errors in your writing will become less noticeable to the average person.
However, you will see more and more errors in your writing.
This is because when you are studying handwriting, you are training your eye to see errors, which allows you to see the more subtle errors that previously escaped your eye.
The only way to end this process is to become satisfied with your handwriting or keep working on it for the rest of your life.
Should you become satisfied with your handwriting, writing regularly will maintain it.
Download free handwriting PDF worksheets
In my free online course, Consistent Cursive, you’ll learn all the needed fundamentals to improve your handwriting. In the download section you’ll also be able to download free handwriting worksheets, which include –
- Lowercase letters + variations
- Capital letters + variations
- Numbers & Symbols
- Various blank grids for practice
You can check them out on my site by clicking the button below.
Quick recap + final words on improving your handwriting
There you have it, friends.
If you’re genuinely looking to improve your handwriting, this is the best approach you can take.
Little tips and tricks may marginally improve the look of your handwriting.
However, learning the fundamentals will allow you to take your handwriting to a new level.
Here is a quick recap of the whole article –
- Understand the basics of handwriting
- Pick and study a proven handwriting system, e.g., American Cursive
- Always practice using an existing exemplar
- It’s easier to use an existing exemplar than to create one from scratch
- You’ll be able to apply the knowledge to other writing styles as well (even create your own)
- Once you understand the fundamentals, you’ll be able to correct your mistakes
- The improvement of your handwriting will depend on how much time and effort you put into it
Once again, be sure to check out my free online course that will teach you everything you need to know about American Cursive.
Now let me ask you something – What has been your biggest struggle with improving your handwriting?
Let me know by dropping a comment below 👇
Thanks for reading!