A few years back, I took up a teaching job in a neighborhood school. One of the subjects I taught grade three students there was English, which also included Cursive handwriting. I used to be guilt ridden to grade the small kids for their joined up writing, when in fact, my own handwriting was nowhere near as good as theirs. I had always struggled with creating pretty letters on paper, and although I need not write anything on paper, or in pretty alphabets, I decided to improve just for the sake of learning. Here is what I have learned so far:
- The handwriting type: Everyone has a handwriting type. Some draw longer and stiffer letters, while others like me lean towards shorter and rounded alphabets. But this is not where the problem occurs. The handwriting begins to face problems when you cannot decide on what type you belong to. So, firstly be sure in yourself about what type you are or are comfortable with. Stop hopping between the two and be decisive. I know, the other one always looks better but that isn’t it.
- Do you slant or not: Either you slant to the left or the right, or you don’t slant at all. A slight slant won’t do harm, but too much of leaning towards the lines under it will make reading difficult and give your handwriting a “bad” rating.
- Consistency: It is important to keep the shape and size of the letters consistent. If you write the letter “A” in one way, don’t change it too often or at all. Each letter should be distinguishable and thus, readable. Consistency, also applies to the way you hold your pen or the position of your paper. Keep the same angle and position throughout your writing, so that there are not different types of handwriting in the same paper.
- Spacing: Spacing plays a huge role in determining the goodness of your handwriting, whether it is written in cursive or not. A rule I learned in school was to leave enough space between two words to fit your index finger. Although it is just an idea, it does help to follow the rule to the “T” during the first few practice periods. The bottom line is to not cramp too many words in one line.
- Pressure: The pressure you apply to write shows in the imprints it leaves on the back of the paper. So, keep it light. On the other hand, don’t draw lines so faint that it is difficult to read your work. Keep an even pressure all along.
- Go first grade: Find cursive writing worksheets and start copying some artsy letters on your paper. Try both, capital and small letters, beginning from A, all the way to Z. Don’t jump on to sentences or even words on the first go. Keep it slow and go steady.
- Don’t rush it: Cursive writing takes patience. Not just to master it but to keep it from becoming ugly too. So, write slow and allow your hands the needed time to coordinate between elegant strokes and consistent shapes and size.
- Practice: When all is said and done, it comes down to practice. Whoever said, “Practice makes perfect,” was a genius. Spend a few hours a day to practice cursive writing. But don’t overdo it. As soon as you feel some sort of pain in your wrist and arms, it is time to take a break.
- Use quality stationery: What kind of pen and paper you use plays a huge role in the quality of your handwriting. It’s similar to match-making. A fountain pen won’t give its best result on lokta paper. The result will be ink bleed and blotchy handwriting. Use a rollerball instead. Fountain pens work brilliantly on smoother, thicker papers such as a Photocopy paper. The idea is to not let the utensils come in the way of creating good handwriting. Be assertive of the stationery you use.
Over a period of time, I have realized that my decision to improve joined up handwriting wasn’t a waste after all. It is satisfying to see beautiful strokes of self-written words in birthday cards, invitations, letters and slam books. I don’t shy away from writing good words on paper for someone who is leaving for abroad. In fact, I find myself looking for excuses to flaunt my cursive work more often. Hopefully, you will be doing the same in near future. Till then, keep practicing and don’t let cursives defeat you.