Improving Lifelong Bad Handwriting

People joke that the more educated you are, the worse your handwriting becomes; doctors supposedly being the pinnacle of poor handwriting. Well, I don’t have PHD/MD but I certainly have the terribly handwriting of one. I trace it back to two events in my life, and while neither excuses me from not doing something about it ages ago, I think it’ll help motivate me that I don’t have to have terrible handwriting.

Throughout grade school, we moved a lot. Some of this was just being a military brat and other time it was just the socio-economic realities of being a single parent child. This led to a lot of fracturing and gaps in my early education. One school would be slightly ahead in a skill/topic, while the next would be slightly behind on others. This lead to a lot of “wait or catch-up” style learning for me. Sometimes, such as the case with mathematics, I’d have to twiddle my thumbs until the class caught up, while in others, I’d have to do a self-taught crash-course in cursive.

The next strike occurred in late middle school.  I probably suffered a slight fracture to my right hand, but due to some pretty lax parenting while living with my father, it wasn’t addressed and resulting in a long recovery during which I avoided handwriting.  I went so far as to print out my school work which, I can tell you, did me no social/cool favors.  I then took a typing class because I wanted to be a good typist to be “good with computers” and that school did not have a computer lab.

Wait, Why Are You Bothering?

In a world where physical handwriting seems to be a diminishing skill, why are you wasting time on it? Firstly, I think handwriting is far from a “dead art”.  Sure, it isn’t my primary form of writing by a long shot, but in those instances when you do use it, it is powerful indicator about you.  Similarly, you don’t have to iron your shirt to be “decent” in public, but it does make a difference.

Ok, Fine, How Do You Improve Your Handwriting?

When I started looking for resources, I actually had a bit of trouble.  Initially, what I found fell in to a couple of “not quite right” groups:

  1. Resources for children
  2. Resource for adult literacy (actually learning reading/writing)
  3. Arts & Crafts (calligraphy type stuff)

Finally, though, I came across “Better Handwriting for Adults” by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA):

These days we don’t need to write by hand as much as we did in the past. Instead, we can type a letter on our computer, or send an email or text. But sometimes we do need to write. Our writing changes as we grow and we develop our own style. We have written this magazine for adults who would like to improve their handwriting, adults who don’t write often or are unhappy with the way their handwriting looks. We hope that you find our tips and ideas useful, and that you will soon be comfortable with your handwriting, whatever your style!

It is actually pretty comprehensive without being dense.  A 48-page PDF covers everything you could want from hand exercises to writing drills to practical application.

Better Handwriting For Adults


Print out some exercises and give them a try during your break or when you have a spare moment.  Once a day or at least every other day for about 15-20 minutes seems like enough from what I’m see, so that’ll be my goal.  Might be awhile before I’m willing to share my handwriting samples though.  🙂

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