Handwriting is something that’s all too tempting to fall by the wayside today, as more people are obsessed with the digital. Whether it’s the stylus on their tablets or YouTube videos, folks seem to make less time for old-school things like cursive.
That’s too bad because there’s true artistry and design in something as creative and intricate as handwriting. For designers in particular, it’s important to appreciate what it takes to create specific characters — this can only help them when they’re designing new fonts. One of the more interesting ways to familiarize yourself with typefaces in general is learning about handwriting.
For those creative types who want to write cursive much better than they are currently, there’s a very stimulating way to improve their handwriting: It’s the 30-day Handwriting Challenge. Over the space of a month, you’ll learn a new technique or strategy each and every day that will serve you well in your quest to become a master of cursive.
After 30 days, you’ll be able to handwrite so well that your characters will seamlessly flow right onto the paper with only minimal movements of your joints.
Ready to give it a shot? Awesome! Here’s what you’ll need to do…
Phase 1 – The Analysis
Day 1: Decide the Reason for Wanting to Improve
We’re all motivated by different reasons for wanting to get better at handwriting. Maybe it’s a purely aesthetic thing for you, or perhaps you want a new, creative challenge.
Still others may want to improve their penmanship because it aids their sense of authority at work, if they’re in a management position. Whatever the reason is, when you understand exactly what it is, you can more accurately and determinedly home in on your goal—like a well-focused laser beam.
Day 2: Look at Your Own Handwriting
Improving your handwriting 101 starts with what you’ve already got, which is how you currently write cursive. Pick a topic, any topic, or write stream-of-consciousness thoughts on a piece of lined paper.
Write a few sentences to form a paragraph. Don’t try to make it “perfect”; simply write naturally so it’s an accurate sample. When you’re done, you can take a step back and objectively start to analyze your handwriting as a starting point.
Day 3: Know What to Look for
Examine the paragraph you just wrote to see where you are exactly with your handwriting skills.
To get a meaningful impression, look for the following attributes and factors in your handwriting:
- The shapes (loops, curves, hard corners, etc.)
- The slant’s degree (the angle in which you write the letters)
- The alignment (upward or downward angle, any overlapping with other letters, etc.)
- The spacing
- The size
- The line quality (hard to read, heavy pressure on paper, etc.)
Day 4: Identify Your Imperfections
On the third day, you have to conduct an honest and hard assessment of the way your handwriting currently looks. No one’s perfect, so chances are great that you’ll spot quite a few mistakes.
Some ideas of mistakes to look for can include:
- Letters that are too far apart or squished together
- Crooked alignment
- Too steep an angle in your letters
- Letter shapes that are hard to read or even illegible
- Letters that are too faint or pressed to hard into the paper
Day 5: Get the Right Materials to Help Your Cause
Now that you finally have a great idea of what you’ve been doing wrong and what you want to fix, you can begin taking actionable steps to improve.
First, start with the very basics: the writing instrument that you’ll be using. Get whatever feels the most comfortable in writing on a piece of paper. This can be a fountain pen, a regular pen, or even just your basic pencil. Then buy a notebook, so you can chart your improvements over the days.
Day 6: Get Inspired by Handwriting That Impresses You
The web is the perfect place for your dose of inspiration. Simply visit typography websites like Google Fonts, Typewolf or our very own Creative Market fonts category to sift through the huge selection of different typefaces and get the inspiration you’re looking for!
The more samples of type you’re exposed to, the more you can figure out how you want to mold and develop your own handwriting.
Day 7: Practice With Air Writing
You’ve heard of air guitar, right? When budding guitar players pretend they’re holding a guitar and jamming out awesome chords and solos? Do the same thing with your handwriting by practicing in the air before you take to your notebook with your writing instrument.
When you “write” sentences in the air with your finger, you’re actually training the complex group of muscles in your hand and entire arm to support you when you’re actually handwriting.
Day 8: Stretch Your Hands and Wrists
While handwriting isn’t a workout, per se, it can eventually take a slight toll on your hands and wrists, if you do it long enough. That’s why it’s a smart idea to start getting used to warming up your hands and wrists prior to every handwriting session.
On Day 7, start the practice of flexing your hands and then rolling your wrists, so they’re limber and loose. Do this prior to handwriting, but also do these exercises on a regular basis, so your muscles will be less likely to tighten up.
Day 9: Learn to Hold Your Pen or Pencil Properly
As with many things in life, the correct form is so important to success at any endeavor, even handwriting. When handwriting, learn to hold your pen or pencil in between your thumb and index and middle fingers.
The end of the pen or pencil ought to rest on either your index finger’s knuckle or the web of the hand. Strike the right balance between holding too tightly and loosely for optimal results.
Day 10: Learn Ergonomically Correct Body Posture
How you sit and position your body when handwriting has great impact on how well your cursive looks on the paper. Sit up straight, and then utilize your non-writing hand for balance; this will provide you with more control during handwriting.
Always sit at a table and a good chair (with a hard back) instead of a couch or other seat with poor back and seat support.
Day 11: Understand That It’s Not About Your Fingers
Now that you’re one-third of the way to your goal, it’s time to retrain your mind: It’s not about the fingers when handwriting. It’s really about using your forearm and shoulder, as professional calligraphy artists already know all too well.
To get in the good habit of this, simply hold your pen or pencil, but write big letters in the air, which will activate your forearm and shoulder more.
Day 12: Get Familiar With Writing Basic Shapes
The core aspect of handwriting is shapes. Think about it: You’re writing lines and curves and then joining them on line after line.
Before you start forming letters, go back to the ultra basics by filling up your lines with simple vertical and diagonal lines, circles and semi-circles. Only when your basic lines and curves look regular and evenly spaced, then you can move on to the actual letters!
Day 13: Take the Time to Just Doodle
Don’t think that doodling is a good use of your time? Still think that doodling is censurable because you may have been reprimanded for doing so in school? Reconsider the value of doodling to improve your handwriting, however.
Besides being relaxing, doodling actually helps your hand-eye coordination and gets you in the habit of smoothly moving your pen or pencil across the paper. Don’t believe me? Just try it.
Finally…You’re Ready for the Handwriting…
To be continued….
Culled from Creative Market