I love writing – the simple act of moving a pen over paper and seeing a line of ink appear. The process is magical and personal.
I also love looking at other people’s handwriting. It’s a little piece of them, their energy and style. It doesn’t matter if it is the work of a calligraphy master or still looks like infant school print, it is that person’s own unique artistic expression. If you can put pen to paper and write, you are being creative!
My own handwriting… I was super critical of my own handwriting until recently. Now I appreciate it and enjoy it. It makes me laugh that my daughter’s teachers at school commend it when my own teachers complained about it – my messy writing was always mentioned in my reports. In my mid-teens I suddenly got into pens and writing and upped my game. I haven’t stopped working on improving it since. Moving from ballpoint pens to fountain pens 15 years ago was, I suppose, a natural progression. It was around that time I started keeping a journal just as an excuse to write and use my fountain pens.
So here are a few hints and tips that I’ve found useful.
PAPER AND PEN
If someone tells you all pens are the same, walk away! That person should not be part of your life! ALL PENS – ESPECIALLY FOUNTAIN PENS – ARE UNIQUE! I have several Parker Sonnets – ballpoints, rollerballs and, of course, fountain pens. They each feel different, from rollerball to rollerball, from fountain pen to fountain pen. I hold them differently, the nibs are different, the refill or ink is different, therefore the results are different. I will select a pen specifically for the task I am about to undertake.
The same is true of paper. Play around and find a paper that enhances the finished look of what you are writing. The colour, the smoothness, the line gauge. I like 7mm line depth as my writing is quite large. I struggle with 5mm or less. And unlined paper is a no go! I need lines!
Being comfortable in your position, with enough space to move your writing arm. Write with your arm, not just your fingers. I like to write on a flat surface but perhaps an angled surface would suit you better.
When I write in my journal I find by the 40th line my handwriting is more uniform and consistent. Before that point it offends my eyes! This is fine for my journal. If you are writing a letter or something you are going to present in some way, do a couple of drafts to get into your groove.
Too fast, your writing will be scrappy. Too slow, it becomes unnatural and forced. Find a speed of writing which allows your writing to remain natural but with an element of control.
KEEP YOUR WORK
Looking back at my writing from 5 years ago helps me appreciate how much it has improved even though you can still tell it is my writing! It is always good to have a point of reference to see what changes you have made.
BEG, BORROW, STEAL
My ‘font’ has developed over 30 years by nicking characters that I have seen other people use. I first did this after sitting next to a boy at school and thinking his ‘r’ looked cooler than mine. My ‘r’ has evolved several times since then. My ‘f’ is taken from an ex-girlfriend and one of my ‘d’s (that doesn’t have a downstroke to form the tail, it goes up and to the left) came after seeing Anne Hathaway do it that way in ‘Becoming Jane’. I repeat a letter until it becomes second nature.
OWN YOUR STYLE
Do not feel judged or inferior. It is your handwriting, no one else’s. Yes, emulate and evolve your writing, but love it for what it is. Write with pride and do it often. Don’t let handwriting disappear to be replaced by emojis and ‘comic sans’ fonts!