Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Over the years, my handwriting has changed. Actually over the course of writing a letter my handwriting can change. This has always fascinated me. I can actually write a word with multiples of the same letter and each time that letter will be written slightly differently. I don't know what this says about my personality. That I am inconsistent? unreliable? or just creative?

In some ways, I like the old style of writing, where every one learned cursive script the same way. You can identify the writing of a prewar letter by its style, and an 18th century script by its flourishes. But I also chafed against it when I was in public school and I remember arguing with a teacher about why I couldn't write my b as it is printed. I have practiced writing my a or a and I am totally inconsistent with the tails of my g and y. I actually longed for a name that began with Q just so I could write that letter every time I signed my name. I have never, ever, ever, signed my name with a heart or a circle over the i. I am proud of that.

I am not so proud of the era where I thought it was cool to write with a serious back slant. Or the time when it was so tiny as to be almost unreadable. Now, I find I start out writing huge letters before they finally settle down to a more appropriate size. Sometimes I will look at my penmanship as I write and wonder if my hand is possessed, it looks so unrecognizable.

I have a collection of pens for this task, too. Some are the run of the mill Bic (though I always preferred Papermate) and many are now of the gel variety. Depending on my mood, I may use a fine, or very fine point, though in my heart I prefer the medium point with the wide swath of dark blue ink. I like the way the pen scratches on the paper and even the way it makes an indent when you press too hard. Writing is the one way we can all display our creativity or individuality. We also display our mood and personality as we write. You cannot detect that from a keyboard.

Now most of my writing is on postcards. And with some of the long names or addresses from places in China and Finland, for example, I need to be vigilant and neat, and write small to fit it all in. It is at times a challenge to write neatly, but I do want these people who may not be so proficient in English to at least be able to read what I’ve taken the trouble to write. I have seen some pretty elegant handwriting on some of these cards that I would like to emulate. I have also, unfortunately, seen some that I could not decipher at all, mostly because of the script, not necessarily the messiness. I try to guess about the writer – their age or sex or interests even, before looking up their profile when I register the card. I also received a card from another blogger and found her handwriting to be exactly as I would have expected. That does not always happen. Sometimes, one is appalled by the chicken scratches that other people pass off as penmanship, or surprised by the flow of letters that doesn’t seem to match the personality.

So, bearing in mind all I have said above… I have tried several samples and this seems to be the best I can do today. It really doesn’t feel like me. and yes, that is purple ink.

this post inspired by Jazzpoor writing sample


  1. My handwriting changes all the time too. I figure it is because I am creative. Sometimes it is downright sloppy!! Sometimes sort of readable.

  2. I can write like the penmanship book when I have to but prefer not to, however, when I sign my name it is pretty much the same.

  3. THis is a hoot. I failed board writing in University, Teacher's College, in the old days. I am not proud, but understand students with cursive writing issues.
    Also, love my keyboard!

  4. I don't even handwrite. I print all the time, except for my signature - which I've taken YEARS to perfect to the messy scrawl it is today (harder to forge, you see). And medium point blue ink pens are the best, I agree!

  5. I have the handwriting of a 3rd-grader, in part because of some carpal tunnel issues. No one needs to see my handwriting!

  6. My school had a very distinctive handwriting style. Mine is modified, and is now somewhat all over the place, due to arthritic fingers.
    Have a good holiday.

  7. i played with my handwriting too over the years until i went back to college - that shot my handwriting to heck. now it is what it is.

    have fun in NYC

  8. Funny...I just read your post after addressing two postcards to China and one to The Netherlands, all with very long addresses. I used a fine point pen and printed carefully. Normally, my script writing is so erratic, usually because I'm rushing to get the mail out. But, like you, I write a lot of postcards so I try to write clearly. Thanks for this post.

  9. Learning cursive handwriting in school was the first time I got a C. Things haven't improved much since. ;)

  10. I wonder if handwriting is taught in school any more.

    I actually have nice handwriting but for the life of me I canNOT do calligraphy. Like you I change the shapes of certain letters from word to word. It might mean I have two or more personalities and they vy for attention...constantly.

  11. My writing depends on how much time I have, sometimes I print-script as its easier but mostly I just print. Oh and give my love to New York!!

  12. That's so cool that you write like Jazz and me with the different Y tails and a mix of cursive and print.
    I hated cursive writing lessons and used to trace from the book. There are still a lot of cursive letters I cannot do.

  13. SueAnn: I like the creative angle. though it could be simply moodiness!

    Gail: I lke that "I prefer not to"! my signature is the same as well, though my 'l' has changed.

    Jenn Jilks: writing on a blackboard is so much harder than you might expect. I hated the chalk, it felt like a huge dull pencil.

  14. Pinklea: I prefer printing, but half the letters usually end up being joined up because it is easier than lifting my pen off the page. signatures that look nothing like their name really intrigue me.

    SAW: well, just so long as you can read your notes on your patients!

    Persiflage: ooh, so your handwriting is like an accent - you can tell which school you went to? thanks.

    Char: oh yes, I blame going back to school for my dramatic decline. It just never recovered from the frantic notetaking.

  15. Mim: aren't some of those Postcrossing addresses incredibly long? especially the ones in China! I bought a super fine point pen just for writing those and I often practice on a notepad to make sure I get all the letters in the right order!

    Amy: I loved cursive writing in school and used to be obsessed about how my writing looked. now I am in too much of a hurry to get the words written.

    Stine: I have read that it isn't taught, or at least not to the extent that it is as important as it used to be.

    Sagittarian: I am a bit impatient, so that could explain my lack of neatness. and I will! maybe with a fancy drink, even.

    Geewits: I used to get old greeting cards and trace from them. some of those old 50s and 60s cards had some cool fonts (I thought at the time) I still can't write a cursive 'b' (I found a font on Livewriter that showed it, but it didn't work when I posted this in blogger)

  16. My writing tends to be all over the place, now, with arthritic fingers, and a bit shaky too, I've noticed with alarm!

    I used to do calligraphy, and loved it, felt very reative. Don't think I could do it now.

    But your handwriting is lovely and clear and legible - something to be proud of these days!

  17. Gilly: why, thank you. I always had trouble with calligraphy - my left hand would drag through the wet ink and mess it up! interestinly, I feel more arthritic pain in my right hand than in my left.

  18. I don't think we can determine someone by their handwriting because so often we do change our style. Apart from doctors! They seem to write in a rather illegible way unless they just don't want you to read the notes they have just made!!

    CJ xx

  19. Funny, but I was just thinking about my handwriting this morning too...I received a card from a cousin with absolutely beautiful looks just like the penmanship of my mother...but I can hardly read my own handwriting and it drives me nuts. Like you, I watch and try to guide my hand but it does what it wants ....which is not a good thing...

  20. Oh!...and have a wonderful time in NYC!...what do you have planned?

  21. I love your handwriting. Thanks for sharing.

  22. my handwriting has suffered greatly since I began using computers so much, but one of the Christmas gifts I got was a fountain pen, so I think I'm going to start trying to write more. I've decided that this new article I'm writing will be started on yellow tablet paper, and I'll move it over to the computer later on.

    BTW, I'll be e-mailing you later with my friend's phone number so you can contact him when you get to NYC.

  23. Have a wonderful trip. Your handwriting looks exactly like you!

  24. Crystal: I know people whose handwriting remains the same distincitve and recognizable style, even though they claim it has changed. it has been shown that neurological problems can be seen in your handwriting; the rest I think is a bit dubious. but fun. like astrology

    Oliag: that is interesting, I also got a Christmas letter from a cousin whose writing is very neat and precise, and reminds me so much of her mother's (my aunt)

    I have indoor excursions like gallery hopping and museums (musea?) planned. some of it coutesry of Mr Nighttime

    Mr Nighttime: yes, I think the lack of daily practice makes it a bit sloppy. and how very retro and romantic your writing exercise sounds.

    Jazz: sorry it took so long....

    XUP: thanks. really? hmm.

  25. First, thanks for enlarging your much easier on old eyes!

    Second, I used to have this lovely precise signature until my daughter informed me that it made it really easy to forge notes for school.

    My handwriting is terrible. It used to be really pretty and I could write exactly like my two sisters. Seriously, you couldn't tell us apart. Now it's kind of a combination of printing and cursive, but mostly I print.

    My favorite capital letter to write...V! Ha!

    Have fun in NYC! Of course, it won't be nearly as much fun since I couldn't go, too! Be safe!

  26. Susan: she you it was easy to forge????

    you are welcome.
    and no-one seems to have noticed that the font changed partway through - and I cannot fix it! it was not intentional, though fits in well with the topic.

    and thanks, I will.

  27. yes, really. It's soft and open and friendly-looking. It's whimsical and shows creativity, but at the same time is grounded, clear and straight-forward. (Also just a tad loopy)

  28. Well, she waited to tell me until after she was out of school! Haha!

  29. and here I thought I was the only one with handwriting that changed as the sentence lengthened. My handwriting is a mixture of styles that I have seen from other people and wanted to make my own; it is like spanglish only a mix of cursive and print.

  30. XUP: ah, a tad loopy! that's how I feel right now! but I do feel better about my handwriting with that observation.

    Susan: of course, she did, so now the grands can't use you!

    Annette: I've also tried making other people's style my own, and some of it has stuck. maybe that's why it is such a mixture.

  31. I liked reading that story. The handwriting is a strange issue these days and not much in use.

  32. Perhaps an alien force is taking you over. I wonder what you will become1 Happy new year.


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