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One critical Moleskine skill nobody talks about that you need. - Elf M. Sternberg
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elfs
One critical Moleskine skill nobody talks about that you need.
Many of you who lifehack on paper, who use a Moleskine or Miquelrius or even a Hipster PDA, know that something is wrong with your method. You might have all the usual skills, adapted post-it tabs and bookdarts and maybe even used an xacto knife to carve out your own sections, but there's still something about your personal to-do system that bothers you a lot.

Admit it: your handwriting sucks.

Do something about it.

Find a hand you like. Seriously, find someone else you want to imitate. If you want to go all out, you can buy Write Now!, which is what I used. You can go to their website and download a few excerpts which show the hand they encourage their students to learn. You can find more excerpts elsewhere, too. You can't improve if you don't have good examples. Heck, maybe you have a favorite font you'd want to imitate. Print out sample sentences in it and practice following them.

Hold your pen loosely in your hand. Hold it as you normally would, but as you're writing once in a while pause and tap your pointer finger against the top of the pen to remind yourself to loosen up. Don't death-grip your pen.

Keep the paper at a comfortable angle, not straight-on. We all know how paper naturally seems to fall at an angle while we're working; figure out what angle works best for you and stay with it.

I spent ten minutes a day every morning for about two weeks, and the improvement was pretty good. I can read my own handwriting now, which is the goal I set out for myself. Some people recommend using lined paper, but I remember something from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: writing is just drawing. Words are made up of lines. Get used to doing it on plain paper. I recently switched to a "sketchpad" Moleskine and had a big leap: my handwriting improved, and the lack of lines gave me freedom to explore drawing and digramming. The lines just got in the way.

After that, continue to be mindful of how you write, and never accept illegibility again.

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Comments
From: technoshaman Date: July 22nd, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Admit it: your handwriting sucks.

Yes, yes it does. But you know what? I'm OK with that. If it has to be bigger than what will fit on a standard Post-It Note, then it's worth finding a keyboard and committing it to bits. I can keyboard considerably faster than I can use a pen, and I'm not killing trees when I keyboard unless I make a conscious decision to. And it doesn't fsck with my carpal tunnel the way writing does. I know, my technique probably sucks. But I feel about learning to write well the same way my "Aunt Jane" feels about learning Linux. I don't have time; I have better things to do. Yes, including make this comment. :)

If I wanna get fancy, I just load up Zapf Chancery and go for it. :)
mundens From: mundens Date: July 22nd, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd have to agree.

Small notes can be created in audio or txt on my cell phone. I haven't written anything by hand in months, and before that it was usually just navigation instructions, now I just use Google Maps on the cell. I don't sign my name much anymore, I don't have or need a cheque account, neither do I sign for credit card purchases, that's all a PIN on the EFTPOS.

I don't regularly carry a manual writing implement anymore, heck, I just checked, I don't even have one on my desk at work.

Hand writing is for people who use paper. *grin*
dakiwiboid From: dakiwiboid Date: July 23rd, 2008 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)

I love my Moleskine, I do

But nobody has to be able to read it but me. As long as it's legible enough for me to be able to make out again at a later date, that's all that matters.

I was chastised about my handwriting all through grade school and high school, and even forced to do extra penmanship when I was too ill to take gym class to not sick enough to stay home.

Honestly, no amount of practice will help those of us who are destined not to have good handwriting.
mouser From: mouser Date: July 22nd, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm...

When I start a new notebook (I use these a lot) I put my most commonly misspelled words on the last page.

My handwriting is horrible, I admit - and it really shouldn't be. Maybe the page before that I should put in a "hand"...
From: norikos_author Date: July 22nd, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Do keep in mind....

That some of us don't have a choice; I've always had bad handwriting, went through hell in school because of it, and only found out 4 years ago that there _was_ a condition called dysgraphia.
blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: July 23rd, 2008 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Do keep in mind....

I second this. I was taught to type in 2nd grade (in 1978, no less) because of dysgraphia. My handwriting can be neat, or my handwriting can take a reasonable amount of time. Takes your picks. The hipster PDA doesn't work for me, and the Palm didn't either.
pixel39 From: pixel39 Date: July 22nd, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Admit it: your handwriting sucks.

Actually...it doesn't. It's a point of pride with me that my handwriting be both legible and aesthetically pleasing. But I was actually taught penmanship fairly early on, and I taught myself calligraphy in grade school. Then in high school I took drafting, which is another good way to learn good penmanship and the precise use of a writing implement.
pixel39 From: pixel39 Date: July 22nd, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
A trick from my scribal friends--supposedly if you grip something tightly in your OTHER hand while writing, it helps keep you from strangling your pen. I've never tried it myself, though.
lisakit From: lisakit Date: July 23rd, 2008 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
But I spent all that time learning how to write *bad* for my paralegal career!

Oh yah, that went nowhere. Good thing my handwriting is still good, if I actually pay attention when I'm writing. Heh, as a secretary there, I used to have the draftsmen at bring me their handwritten change sheets to rewrite for them so they could be read. Yah, draftsmen (oh, OK, draftspeople).
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 23rd, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Change pens!

I stopped using ball-point pens and switched back to a fountain pen during grad school. Suddenly, I had to write slower and more carefully; fountain pens force this! I also stopped writing in ball-and-stick print, or in looped cursive, and went to a modified italic font. Check out Write Now by Barbara Getty and Inga Dubay. I heartily recommend it.

Joshua
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