Imagine this scenario: Your good friend has a birthday coming up, and you want to send a thoughtful greeting card to celebrate the occasion. You've picked out a beautifully designed birthday card with a thoughtful message. Now, it's time to add a personal note. With a few swift strokes of the pen, you jot down a heartfelt message and a few words of wisdom. Once you're satisfied with your work, you set the pen down to review it – but all you can see is chicken scratch. Can you even read what you wrote? Will the recipient know what you said? Instead of tossing out the card and starting all over, get it right the first time. Improve your penmanship with these four handwriting tips:
1. Have the right tools
If you're like me, you probably have dozens of pens filling your desk drawers, and you have no idea from where they came. Remember, convenience does not trump quality when it comes to pen selection. Instead of reaching for that pen you accidentally took with you when leaving a restaurant or slipped in your purse before checking out of a hotel, invest in a high-grade writing utensil that will deliver the craftsmanship your greeting card deserves.
While many handwriting gurus opt for fountain pens, you need to find the writing utensil that works for you. Select a pen that glides across the paper and doesn't take much pressure to see the ink. Once you've found a preferred pen type, try out several sizes and weights to discover what fits most comfortably in your hand. Additionally, you may want to practice your penmanship on lined paper to train your hand to move in straight lines. Since most greeting cards don't come with lines to guide your penmanship, muscle memory will play a key role in writing visually beautiful messages.
2. Sit with appropriate posture
Though you should be in a comfortable position when sitting down to write a letter or short message, it's important to maintain an appropriate posture. Sit up straight with both feet on the ground, and use your non-dominant hand to support the paper on which you're writing. Make sure you're sitting in a chair with a back as a reminder not to slouch.
3. Keep your wrist and hand steady
When improving your penmanship, there may be a few habits you'll have to break. According to calligraphy expert Laura Hooper, the source of many handwriting woes is relying too heavily on your fingers. The fingers should only be used to grip the pen. Hooper explains that to achieve attractive penmanship, the fingers, arm and the wrist must be in the same position for every letter and motion. Instead, use your elbows and shoulders to move the pen across the page.
4. Grip the pen for optimum control
Holding the pen with an appropriate grip will not only help improve your handwriting, but it will reduce the chance of hand fatigue. Though there is no single way to hold a writing utensil, there are some guidelines to follow. Cooper suggests gripping the pen between your thumb, index finger and middle finger with the writing utensil resting lightly on the edge of your ring finger. However, other sources suggest using only the thumb, index and ring fingers. Do what feels most comfortable for you.
No matter which way you hold the pen, be sure to use a light, delicate grip, and apply pressure evenly between all the fingers touching the pen. This will help you avoid hand cramps and provide a smooth writing consistency.
Implement these tips in your handwriting strategy, and you'll see improvements in no time. Make sure to practice before trying out these new techniques in birthday cards!