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By Dyas A. Lawson
HANDWRITING IMPROVEMENTJOY You·ve decided you want to improve your handwriting and you·re probably hoping a fountain pen will do the trick -- maybe a friend told you it would. Mayb OF FLEX, IJOY OF FLEX, IICALLIGRAPHY TIPSHANDWRITING you·re just adventurous and you want to try your hand at calligraphy (or you might, once your handwriting improves). Good for you ! HISTORY A fountain pen may make your writing look a bit better, but if your writing looks as if frenzied chickens got loose on the pa ge, chances are this won·t be enough. Most likely, you·ll need to retrain your arm and hand.
After coaching handwriting and teaching calligraphy over the years, I·ve learned to see the characteristics of those who·ll b e able to pick up the necessary motions quickly from those who·ll have to work a bit harder.
Crampy, uneven letters are often the result of drawing the letters with the fingers rather than using the whole arm to write.
People who inevitably have trouble with handwriting and calligraphy write with their fingers. They "draw" the letters. A finger -writer puts the full weight of his/her han on the paper, his fingers form the letters, and he picks his hand up repeatedly to move it across the paper as he writes.
If you use the right muscle groups, you r writing will have a smooth, easy flow and not look tortured.
People for whom writing comes more easily may rest their hands fairly heavily on the paper, but their forearms and shoulders move as they write. Their writing has a cadence that shows they·re u sing at least some of the right muscle groups. They don·t draw the letters with their fingers; the fingers serve more as guid es.
This exercise may help you determine which category is yours: Sit down and write a paragraph. Doesn·t matter what. Pay attent ion to the muscles you use to form your learned to write after 1955 -60 (depending on where you went to grade school), you write with your fingers.
letters. Do you draw each letter with your fingers? Pick your hand up repeatedly to move it? Have an unrecognizable scrawl? D oes your forearm move? Chances are, if yo
My goal isn·t to make you into a model Palmer-method writer or a 14th Century scribe. If you can compromise between the "right" methods and the way you write now and improve your handwriting so you·r e happier with it, then I·m happy, too.
A few people hold the pen between first and middle fingers, which feels really awkward to me, but I·ve seen it work.
It will take time to re-train muscles and learn new habits. Finger-writing isn·t fatal, but it is slow and often painful (if you have to write much). The first thing you must have (beg, buy, borrow or steal it) is patience and gentleness with yourself. The second requirement is determination.
If you finger-write, that is the first, most important thing you must un-learn: Do not draw your letters! Do not write with your fingers! Put up signs everywhere to remin you. Write it in the butter, on the shaving mirror, stick notes in the cereal boxes. But learn it!
I hesitate to include this, because it sounds much more difficult than it is . . . but . . . let·s look at the most basic things: holding the pen and positioning the hand.
. You·ll have better control and a better writing angle if your pen rests over or just forward of the bottom knuckle on your in dex finger. fat blot. 2).) Many books recommend you write with your table at a 45 -degree angle. but not stiffly. Most of us hold the pen between the thumb and index finger. The two-fingers-on-top method for holding the pen while writing. Don·t worry too much about this position stuff. resting the barrel on the middle finger (fig. that·s a good place to start. 1. usually used for calligraphy (or among really disciplined writers). you·re likely not to want to quit. If you do it the first way. Pick up your pen and look at your hand. so b e careful-. the pen position is less important than for calligraphy. Hold your fingers fairly straight and write slightly above and just between your thumb and index finger. Hold the pen lightly. If you can prop up a board or write with one on your lap. so squished into the La -Z-Boy probably won·t be productive. What·s essential is that you be comfortable. More lefties do this than righties. Rest th e heel of your hand and the angle of your curled-up little finger on the paper. don·t sit hunched over or slump ed. If the second. Your writing arm needs to be free to move. it drops obediently right over that big knuckle --go figure!) Fig.Fig. Once you try an angled surface. the important thing is what makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. that·s a crampy. 3. Don·t curl your ha nd over an write to the left of your palm. but when I pick up a calligraphy pen. In both. the pen feel balanced and you have no tension in your hand. right where you·re holding the pen. Fig. you·re off to a good start. but a flat surface is fine.here goes a whole new budget·s worth of art supplies! Sit up straight. held in plac by the thumb. you·ll be okay. Note that with this position. Pretend the barrel is soft rubber and squeezing will get you a big. but that·s impractical for most of us. 3). 1). miserable position. the remaining fingers are curled under the hand. For handwriting. causes th pen to rest atop the knuckle of the forefinger. not between thumb and index finger (see fig. (If you were using a quill. This is the most common pen -holding position. (I hold my fountain pens in the latter position. 2. with the whole assembly resting on the ring finger (fig. don·t squeeze it. This works better than holding it between the thumb and the index and middle fingers. you·d hold it so lightly that the actual act of drawing the quill along the paper would create the proper contact. with pen between first and middle fingers. I recommend working in your familiar position unles s it·s really bad.
desk position. paper.) I·ve found only one reference to using the right muscle groups to write. move the pape up. If you have a little kid around. you won·t feel so alone. arm. tell your co -workers you·re improving your financial karma o . I can·t be the only person who knows this. To get a feel for the proper muscles (and start training them correctly). You must use the shou lder-girdle and forearm muscles. the "right muscles" are not those in the fingers. That·s what t hey·re supposed to do.Commonly called the "hook" position. As you·ve probably surmised. sweeping l ook to the finished writing. You·ll both have fun. I·m neither that smart nor tha t good." the paper should move up at that spot rather than your hand moving down the pape r. you name it --but for some reason. If you don·t have a kid. (This isn·t critical. It·ll be awkward and feel silly at first. Try to duplicate it each time you practice. because their hands tend to drag over the wet ink. since we ·re accustomed to thinking of small muscles having better control. once trained. note the muscles you use in doing so (here. You·ll feel your shoulder . This muscle group is capable of much more intricate action than you think and tires much less easily than fingers. If you notice it and it bothers you. the shoulder -girdle group. Once you recognize your "writing level. Use your arm and shoulder to shape letters. When you·re practicing and you reach the level on the paper at which it becomes uncomfortable to continue to move your hand down the paper to write. If it doesn·t bother you. If you raise your hand in the air and make large circles. and it·ll be good for the child·s handwriting. hold your forearm. too. That·s good. get him/her to do it with you. this is often seen in left -handers. Calligraphy instruction books address hand position. It makes it harder. hold your arm out in front of you. does the job better. wrist and fingers stationary and in writing position. clean. skip it. That·s the shoulder girdle. shown in darker pink). but not impossible for them to use a fountain pen. and this is critical. lighting. chest and some back muscles doing mos of the work. Though it seems paradoxical. elbow bent. Write in the air until it becomes as natural as breathing. that·s what you do about it. People always look puzzled when I mention the shoulder girdle. and write in the air. not using the right muscles. besides giving a smooth. Write big.
you·ll want to try this with a pen. (If you·re one of the people who can·t write on a blackboard because you keep wanting to shrink the writing down so your fingers can do it. muscles that aren·t accustomed to that kind of work. Concentrate on keeping wrist -hand-fingers largely stationary and in proper alignment. use it. to bo ot). Don·t try to make pretty letters at this stage. When you start putting the strokes and l ines on paper. too small. You need both working together to succeed. four. ·cause your body will want to d o it the way it·s done it since first grade« even though Uniformity and consistency are your aim in all the exercises. Retraining your arm is the goal. which offers big lines with a dotted line between two bold lines. As you become comfortable. When you start making slashes and circles. It may help to concentrate less on the accuracy of the shapes you·re making than on the muscles making the m. And again. and try again. make your strokes and letters smaller until they·re the siz e you normally write. just ugly. Hold it gently. Let it do the work. they·ll become more uniform. If you have access to a chalkboard or a sti ck and a fence (or even a finger and a wall). without drawing them. Remember: Your fingers should move very little and your wrist even less. At some point. Your forearm does most of the guiding. It will be more tiring at first. Do the exercises as much as you ca n³-shoot for every day. check your muscle groups. If you use a spiral notebook for practice. uneven. circles and spirals. If you can get hold of a first -grader·s Big Chief tablet. (Big Chiefs are handy for this. Though it seems uncomfortable. Start making Xs and ///s and \\\s and OOOOs and overlapped OOOs and spirals and |||||s. uniform. Write words and sentences at the same time you·re doing strokes and exercises. Ten or fifteen minutes day should show results in a few weeks for most people. By this time. Place it on the paper in an ordinary lined spiral notebook (the lines act as ready -made guidelines for siz and spacing).) If you k eep wanting to hunch up close and put your hand on the chalkboard or wall to write. And your writing sh ould look much better (and be easier and fee better. and uniformity is your objective. too big. you can leaf back and see your progress. Write big. resist the urge! You·ll be indulging those drat ted fingers. they·ll be uneven. Three. It·ll be hard and frustrating. At first. circles and spirals freely. . it·ll be automatic. as your control increases. even more lines in your notebook. There·s a reason childre n start out writing big and the letters get smaller as they get older and more skilled ³-that·s the easiest way to learn. reduce the size of the air -letters you make. loops. while your sh oulder provides the power. With practice.hexing your boss.) This helps ensu re tha you continue to use the shoulder girdle. And note that both air -writing and paper exercises can be doodledduring meetings and while on holdwaiting for somebody! Concentrate on that shoulder gi rdle. Let the big muscles do the work. whether loopy or slashy. Work into a rhythm and make it a hab it. Check your position. because you·re usi that way is wrong. write on them. Gradually. loops. not making pretty little circles and lines first time out. you probably won·t have to make extra effort to incorporate this stuff into your writing. They·ll give you a feel for the muscles you need to use and writing on a vertical surface makes it virtually impossible to finger-write. these exercises will make a huge difference in your control and smoothness. evenly spaced lines. You·ll know when you get there. crooked. your strokes and lines wil be bad³over-running and under-running the lines. start out big. this is really important for you. Make your lines. Your goal is smooth. This is where you·re most likely to get discouraged. Do not draw these strokes and figures! Use the same shoulder-forearm muscles you·ve been practicing with.
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