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  #1  
Old 07-20-2010, 04:44 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Why does your handwriting suck?

(assuming it does)


When I was a wee lad, I came up with a foolproof plan to avoid looking up words in the dictionary. If I had to write a word like ‘friend’, but didn’t know if it was ‘friend’ or ‘freind’, I would make two blobby loops for the ‘i’ and the ‘e’, and throw the dot somewhere in the middle. Not sure if a word ended in -el or -le? No problem, I’d just make a couple squishy, vaguely ovular shapes of indeterminate height and hope for the best. To compensate for what I thought was the occasional trick, I made sure that my handwriting style lent itself to a chaotic flair.

The underlying assumption to all this was that teachers, who generally recognized me as a bright child/smartypants would either give me the benefit of the doubt and assume I spelled the word correctly, or wouldn’t be able to read the word well enough to tell if I spelled it wrongly. That there was a chance I’d actually spell a word right never factored into it. That I could simply do my spelling homework and master the task seemed like such a boorish chore, especially since I had this great system in place—my grades could take the hit in spelling, but all those other essays, fill-in-the-blanks, sentences, and other assignments where “spelling counted” would skate along.

Boy, did I have them fooled!

...or so I thought.

Turns out I wasn’t enough of a smartypants to see the gaping holes in my plan. Nope. No benefit of the doubt. No assumptions. No credit for words they couldn’t read—not just for spelling but for the overall assignment to boot. Not once in the twelve or so years of elementary through high school did I ever doubt my system or catch on to it's flaws.

The end results:
I have atrociously poor handwriting and absurdly poor spelling skills.


Epilogue
I did get the last laugh of sorts. I now write and edit for a living—all thanks to wonderful, wonderful word processors!


So that’s my story. Anyone else with a complete absence of handwriting skills know how they ended up that way?
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  #2  
Old 07-20-2010, 04:57 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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I just have poor motor control where it comes to writing. I'm not consistent - no two letters are ever the same, even in the same 2 minute period.

When I was about 18 I ended up getting embarrassed by it as it made me look like a retard, so I bought a book about cursive italic handwriting, and practised over and over and over. Now I have shit handwriting that has excessive loops in it as well.

I write in all caps these days to get round it.
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:09 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is online now
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Well, you know how when you look at a little kid's writing, how it's immediately identifiable as "little kid font"? That's the font that they teach kids to write in. Most people's handgrading "degrades" as they try to write faster and so become less fussy about perfectly emulation the "proper" print letter font. Also, most people pick up some letters from cursive. I was too stubborn and too precise to allow my handwriting to degrade, so even though it was very slow and actually almost somewhat painful (if you write a lot) to form the print letters perfectly, that's how I continued to write.

It's fully legible, on the plus side, but having handwriting like an 8 year old isn't exactly the sort of impression you want to give over to employers or whoever.

http://www.westsideelementaryschool....et%20chart.jpg
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3521/...d9f7e3b4_o.jpg (Not mine. Just an an example of a child's handwriting. My handwriting looks exactly like that though.)
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Old 07-20-2010, 06:15 AM
GHO57 GHO57 is offline
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I just couldn't be bothered to learn properly.

I'm more of the "close enough" type person... I pick things up really fast, but I have no patience for perfecting them once I feel I'm performing acceptably. What I produce might not be pretty, but it works. Couldn't do golf for that very reason; whacking a ball around... sure, it's sort of fun... repeating the same motion thousands of times just to perfect every last detail of it is just boring.

Besides, I could never write neatly while at the same time keeping up with my thinking; it'd be like writing a poem one word an hour, you'd lose the flow.
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:37 AM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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My hands shake constantly and have since I was a child. It's not really noticable unless I'm trying to hold something still, like a fork full of rice or holding a pen to paper. If I really concentrate and take a lot of time my handwriting is legible, but I can type much faster and can read my own scrawl when necessary so I don't take the time.

On the plus side I'm never chosen to take notes on the whiteboard. Well at least not more than once per person.
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:49 AM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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I have huge blocky hands that can't do anything that requires small motor skills. I can print if I go slow but there is no hope for my handwriting. Way back in 1966 I was told to start using a typewriter for all my HS papers, even though normally I would not be able to take typing for another 2 years the school made an exception. I bought a portable used typwriter and used it through HS and 2 years of college.

By blocky hands I mean I cannot touch my thumb to my little finger, and I cannot cross any of my fingers over any other.
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:06 AM
njtt njtt is online now
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Apparently it has something to do with the fact that I am a cross-lateral (right handed, but left eye dominant) hook writer. (I have been told that this combination of symptoms means that my brain is connected up backwards, or something.) Hook writing is when you hold the writing hand to the side of, and even somewhat above the pen, rather than below, as most people do. It is relatively common amongst left-handers, I believe, but I am right handed. They tried hard to train me out of it at primary school, but to no avail.

(I tried googling "hook writing" but I just got a lot of pages about how people compose the catchy bits in songs .)
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:22 AM
Duke Duke is offline
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My wretched handwriting is the result of a number of additive factors, any one of which could have caused ugly writing, but together make my handwriting something my doctoral supervisor called "the worst handwriting in history, including 500-year-old scrawls by a blind old scribe writing on sheepskin with a sharpened duck feather".

1. My parents were both left-handed and write in classic "hook" style. I'm right-handed, and somehow I picked up their style. Result: even with a fast-drying ballpoint pen, my hand immediately smears what I just wrote. Also, I am essentially writing everything upside down.

2. I have a habit of not stopping to concentrate while I'm writing, with the result that I sometimes start thinking of something else mid-word. Result: I write the wrong word and have to cross it out. Or I have an instant portmanteau when the Big Idea struck.

3. Something is a little funny with my fine motor skills. I've noticed this in other avenues too. In golf we'd call it the yips. Result: my letters are oddly-shaped, and rarely the same size twice.

4. I don't look at my writing when I'm doing it (mainly because I'm embarrassed to look). Result: words go all over the page and the lines don't go straight.

5. Frankly, I'm through giving a damn about it. I can type fast, and I and others can obviously read what I've just typed. Result: I ain't getting any better any time soon.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:04 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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I write quickly. I switched from cursive to printing about 30 years ago, but it's still not all the readable. Writing just takes too long, which is why I touch type everything I can.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:07 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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I just don't care. In grade school I got straight As in everything and Ds in handwriting. I still don't care. I can make it legible if need be, and for everything else, there's computers. In this one way I am totally "into" the modern way of doing things; why write when you can type?

I sitll hand-write notes, though.
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  #11  
Old 07-20-2010, 09:14 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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The OP pretty much describes my journey to poor penmanship and spelling. It wasn't so much of a plan as it was just muddling through the whole writing/spelling task with very little assistance from teachers or parents, other than yelling and sad head shakes. The fact that I clutch a pencil in my whole hand like I'm going to stab the paper doesn't help either. Once I found typing I never bothered to write again other than block printing.
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  #12  
Old 07-20-2010, 09:25 AM
Surly Chick Surly Chick is offline
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I'm the same as jjimm. I think I have poor motor control when writing. Even when I try to write neatly it still looks like crap.
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  #13  
Old 07-20-2010, 09:31 AM
Ellen Cherry Ellen Cherry is offline
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Mine's crappy because I write really big and because I take a lot of notes. I developed my own shorthand ("wh" and "th" for any words beginning with those letters, for example), and a lot of on-the-fly abbreviations I remember short-term.

Consequently my handwriting is an illegible mess that only I can read. I used to work with two women with gorgeous handwriting. We put notes on large sheets of paper during meetins, and when they took their turns writing up there it was a sight to behold. When I wrote the notes they only vaguely resembled actual words.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:16 AM
Athena Athena is online now
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Mine is crappy because I never ever write anymore. I look at my handwriting from back when I was in college and took a lot of notes and did a lot of longhand writing, and it's not too bad.

Nowadays, 20 years later, I type. I type really, really fast. Other than grocery lists (that my husband says are totally illegible) I really don't ever write anything.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:23 AM
GHO57 GHO57 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Apparently it has something to do with the fact that I am a cross-lateral (right handed, but left eye dominant) hook writer. (I have been told that this combination of symptoms means that my brain is connected up backwards, or something.) Hook writing is when you hold the writing hand to the side of, and even somewhat above the pen, rather than below, as most people do. It is relatively common amongst left-handers, I believe, but I am right handed. They tried hard to train me out of it at primary school, but to no avail.

(I tried googling "hook writing" but I just got a lot of pages about how people compose the catchy bits in songs .)
Oh wow...

Never knew that; I learned in the army I was cross-dominant, left eye/right hand. My shooting improved by switching long arms to the left shoulder. Now that I think of it I guess I do the hook thing... like, the top of the pen is pointed away from my body, and I can see all my fingernails under the pen... and I tilt the paper pretty strongly... though in reverse as I am right-handed.

I'm SO blaming my handwriting on that from now on. Woohoo, free pass on bad penmanship
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  #16  
Old 07-20-2010, 10:38 AM
kopek kopek is offline
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My handwriting does suck; you need experience with it like you would a foreign language or you just can't read it. Mine comes from racing motorcycles when I was younger and shooting a lot of high caliber handguns. My hands have both been busted up and abused to much that even holding a pen is tough sometimes let alone moving it in a manner that produces an attractive result. I'm trying to get better though - relearning control by using dip and fountain pens and writing slower. But will I live long enough to get it back to clear? Hard to say.
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  #17  
Old 07-20-2010, 10:44 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is offline
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I'm lefthanded, so my cursive handwriting always sucked, being designed for righthanded people and all. But other than to sign my name, I haven't used cursive in decades.

My printing-style handwriting wasn't too bad until about 15 years ago. Once I started typing pretty much everything on computers, my handwriting went south in a hurry. But for the same reason, the quality of my handwriting isn't at all important anymore.

Do they still teach cursive handwriting in the schools anymore? And if so, why?
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  #18  
Old 07-20-2010, 11:08 AM
Fuzzy Dunlop Fuzzy Dunlop is offline
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Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
I just don't care.
Me too. My handwriting is actually pretty legible but it looks sloppy and like a child wrote it. I would say it's at least as legible as a lot of people with very consistent neat writing who are never the less too stylized and hard to read. It really exudes the lack of caring though. In addition to being sloppy, letters are rarely if ever on the line, preferring instead to float comfortable above it, unimpeded by its overly restrictive horizontalness.
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Old 07-20-2010, 11:40 AM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
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My parents believed that being left-handed was a masculine trait, and so insisted that their daughter be right handed. Add to that a complete inability to keep up with the speed of my thinking. If I'm writing slowly and carefully, I'll write beautifully, but my mind then wanders and I end up inserting something that's not supposed to be there. . .
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Old 07-20-2010, 12:16 PM
Wakinyan Wakinyan is offline
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
I write quickly. [snip] Writing just takes too long, which is why I touch type everything I can.
Ditto. However, I write quite a lot with pen or pencil nonetheless. If it's something I need, I type it when I get home; weeks or even days later I often can't read it myself otherwise. If it's a note to someone else, I use "caps" only.

It troubles me a bit, I wished my handwriting was clear and perhaps even a bit beautiful.
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Old 07-20-2010, 01:17 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Because, while I taught myself to read at age four because I really wanted to know how to, I saw no reason for learning how to write. A few days beore my eighth birthday, I saw a word I didn't know on a book in a store window. "What's a diary?" I asked my brother? "A book where people write down what they did that day."

BINGO! I never thought about recording my day. I taught myself cursive, and started keeping a diary on my eighth birthday (yes, I still write every night). But I taught myself very poorly, and didn't learn how to print for several years after that.

It's since been recognized that I have very minimal eye-hand coordination.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 07-20-2010 at 01:18 PM..
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Old 07-20-2010, 01:38 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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I just plain stopped using handwriting. I've been "real time chat typing" since I was about 14 (17 years ago) so I naturally got good at it. Computers started to be the norm in school around then, too. I took notes in college with very poor handwriting (or not at all) and since then, I haven't really done any significant writing. It's been 10 years since college now.

I write out about 40 Christmas cards each year and it's like murder on my hands. I have to be very careful and write with block print to make sure they get delivered.

I was writing to my grandparents every month for a while, and I started of hand-writing a letter then threw it away. I told them I was sorry for being impersonal but there's no way I was going to make two 80-year-olds try to decipher my handwriting.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:08 PM
Acantha Acantha is offline
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I have no idea. I'm so old we actually got graded on penmanship when I was in school. It was the only lousy grade I received and it pissed me off a lot.

I used to practice for hours and my handwriting never improved.

That's why I type.


My handwriting is so terrible, I even get teased about my block writing being illegible. How the hell can block writing be illegible?

Last edited by Acantha; 07-20-2010 at 04:09 PM..
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:16 PM
JohnT JohnT is online now
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Holding a pencil/pen for an extended period makes my hand ache. I'm sure plenty of experts will say I'm holding them wrong, but what I do seems to be a lot like what the diagrams show, so I'm not getting it. Maybe I'm just holding the things too tightly.

Thank god for typing!
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Old 07-20-2010, 11:53 PM
Umbriel2 Umbriel2 is offline
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I was "skipped" a grade, from 1st semester of kindergarten to 2nd semester of first grade. As such, I missed the fundamentals of printing, and improvised my own style to catch up. My printing has always looked kind of sloppy and childlike, but I find it faster and more natural than handwriting. When I do write in cursive, its slow and neat-looking.
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  #26  
Old 07-21-2010, 12:25 AM
Trepa Mayfield Trepa Mayfield is offline
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In a word, cursive.

Cursive actively pissed me off when I was in grade school. Why oh why did we have to learn all these new letters when we had perfectly good letters memorized already? "It'll be efficient", they said. Pah! I wrote fast enough then and I do now as well with plain printing, when I'm not typing of course. As a result, I rebelled anytime anyone brought up penmanship, as I assumed they were trying to teach the Devil's Handwriting. And I got sloppy. It's still legible, mind, but not pretty.
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:27 AM
Askance Askance is offline
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At school they used to make us write lines as punishment. Naturally we scrawled them down as quickly as possible to get it over with. So we were effectively trained to write badly.
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  #28  
Old 07-21-2010, 01:35 AM
bubba jr bubba jr is offline
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My handwriting sucks because I don't care. If I need to read it, its legible enough for me, sometimes. Leaving notes for somebody, I put in some effort and it can actually be pretty nice.

I never ever liked cursive and after 3rd and 4th grade where they taught it, and the one teacher I had in 8th grade that required it, I can't write it. I went through college not being able to write well in cursive. It took me far longer to write in the "faster" cursive than in 'print'.

The attempted transition from 'print' to cursive is what destroyed it. I finally get it, then you throw a different bunch of BS at me when I'm 8. Pick one and stick with it. Chinese is chinese, I've never seen "cursive" chinese.

My signature is beyond horrible also, same 8th grade teacher that required cursive, quizzes and papers and BS all the time, my signature became unreadable, I just got sick or writing my name, in cursive, so it became really fast.

The funny thing is my business partner, who's name is nothing like mine, my last name is 6 letters, his is like 87. First names have one letter in common. Our signatures are identical. Loopy doo, squiggly. And he's left handed.

Hail to the typewriter(computer) and chicken scratch.
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  #29  
Old 07-21-2010, 01:44 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
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Simple, I'm left-handed. Almost every left-handed person I know writes terribly, especially with a pencil. Smears everywhere.
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:13 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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I'm old enough that I was graded on my penmanship, and typing (NOT keyboarding) class was an elective. I'm also old enough that our typing classes had both manual and electric typewriters, and we had to learn to type on both, because we didn't know which kind our future employers might have.

Starting in about the fifth or sixth grade, most of the popular girls in school began practicing their cursive writing, complete with circles over the is and js. They compared their handwriting to that of their friends', and the girl with the prettiest handwriting acted like she'd won some sort of tiara. I wasn't popular, and was quite a tomboy, and I always figured if I could read my writing, and my teachers could, then I didn't need to lovingly practice my penmanship. I also figured that my last name was unique enough that I didn't need to creatively spell my first name. This was when the I started replacing the Y in the final letter of girls' names, and Y was replacing I in every other position. Cindy became Cyndi, for instance.

At any rate, one of my life plans was to be able to buy my own typewriter and type everything that needed to be written down. I did own a typewriter for a while. However, I've found that I STILL need to jot stuff down by hand now and then. But my handwriting still sucks.
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:29 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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* Lefty trained as righty.
* Apparently there are several schools of calligraphy. What's called "English calligraphy" in Spain uses ovals, slopes forward and used to be taught to boys; "French calligraphy" uses perfect circles and vertical lines and used to be taught to girls (including yours truly, although I evidently didn't learn it well). Since my natural tendency is to use ovals and slope forward, I might have better handwriting if I could bring myself to spend a few hundred hours learning to write "like a boy". I felt like I'd been robbed at rulerpoint, when I found out about English calligraphy... "if they'd let me write like that, it would have been half as hard!"
* I used to write the s the way I was taught and did so for 20 years. Then I had a teacher who wrote it like a printed s. And for some reason, from then on I've been mixing both kinds of Ss.
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Old 07-21-2010, 04:04 AM
njtt njtt is online now
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Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni View Post
But my handwriting still sucks.
Doesn't feel like you are letting the family down, though?
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  #33  
Old 07-21-2010, 04:25 AM
Lord Mondegreen Lord Mondegreen is offline
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Simple, I'm left-handed. Almost every left-handed person I know writes terribly, especially with a pencil. Smears everywhere.
I got away with that excuse until I was in grade 7. The teacher took a "that excuse won't work with me" approach, and after having been hit enough times by him (this was the '70s) I had beautiful writing. I did so for many years.

Then my career in IT happened. My typing very quickly became way faster than my writing and almost all my communication for ages has been either electronic or printed off my laptop/PC. It must be at least 15 years since I wrote an entire page by hand. Any skill needs to be practised to be maintained, so now my handwriting sucks. I can sometimes force it to be fairly good, but the time and effort isn't worth it.
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  #34  
Old 07-21-2010, 09:28 PM
ataraxy22 ataraxy22 is online now
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Left-handed. Didn't care. Then, when I learned Cyrillic for Russian, what little bit of decent cursive writing I could do was completely lost.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:37 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Doesn't feel like you are letting the family down, though?
Giambattista Bodoni created a FONT, not a handwriting style. So no, I don't feel like I'm letting the family down when I use mechanical means of wrting stuff down.

I do feel a little guilty every time I choose some other font, though. And I frequently do. Many times, Bodoni font isn't the most attractive/effective font for my purposes.
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  #36  
Old 07-21-2010, 09:57 PM
Cinebar Cinebar is offline
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I used to have really nice handwriting. All my life I've been complimented on it. Three years ago, I got hurt on the job, lost a finger and half my thumb and what's left on my right hand doesn't bend (no joints). I can't hold a pen or grip anything.

So, at the age of 52, I had to learn how to write left handed and it hasn't been easy. I can print and then sign my name in cursive (like when I write checks) but it's not pretty and if I have to write more than a few lines (like writing a check), I get really stressed. In fact, my right hand will start moving and will ache when I get really stressed.

When one of my older sons realized just how bad it was, his comment was, "Oh, Mom! You had such nice handwriting!"
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:18 PM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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I spell great. I write poorly. I print everything; the only thing I do in script any more is sign my name and that looks like a doctor's scrawl on an Rx pad.
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  #38  
Old 07-21-2010, 11:02 PM
Antinor01 Antinor01 is online now
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I honestly don't know. When I was in first grade, I remember the teacher giving me an A for content and an F for penmanship. It's sucked ever since.
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  #39  
Old 07-21-2010, 11:09 PM
Uncle Brother Walker Uncle Brother Walker is offline
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I am right handed.

Around middle school, I wanted to change my writing style because it looked like "little kid" font. So I created my own style, both with regular straight up and down letters, and a sloping style that I thought was either cool or horror movie font. I worked very hard at it and it looked great for a while. I used the up and down style for school/work, and the slanty style for personal letters and what not.

A few years ago, I broke my right pinky finger in a bar fight. Now I can't hold a pen correctly, and my writing sucks again.

If I write with a pen for too long, my fingers start to hurt. So I keep it short and post-it note length.

As for cursive, I can't do it. It too, looks like a version of "little kid" font.
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  #40  
Old 07-21-2010, 11:36 PM
Kamino Neko Kamino Neko is offline
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I write fast.

Nobody needs to be able to identify what I wrote (that's what typing is for), except for my signature (which is just 'identify' not 'read'), and I can read my handwriting (normally). (When this isn't true, I write more clearly, but it's printed, caps and smallcaps, which is the only way I can make my handwriting consistently clear to others.)

And, like Ellen Cherry, I abbreviate on the fly (sometimes to the point that even I can't figure out what I meant if I leave it too long).

And I jam the writing in wherever I can fit it - I often need to include arrows and 'walls' to make it clear where in a particular thought fits in.
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  #41  
Old 07-21-2010, 11:48 PM
GameHat GameHat is offline
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My handwriting is jank because I hardly ever write anything anymore. Isn't this the story for like everyone under 35? Is this surprising?

I write like three checks per year. Other than that the only time I put pen to paper is in the lab when I'm scrawling some data on a convenient paper source. And that's usually numbers and tables.

Nearly everything with letters is typed.
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  #42  
Old 07-21-2010, 11:56 PM
Looey Looey is offline
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My son is a lefty, but used both hands equally until the very end of kindergarten when he began to favor the left. I tried for a long time to get him to print letters correctly, but he consistently began almost every letter at the bottom going up (almost every block letter starts at the top and goes down), and it looked awful. Imagine pushing a pencil up the paper all the time instead of pulling it downward. Then I had a flash of brilliance... just ignore it until 3rd grade when they teach cursive because all cursive letters start at the bottom. Guess what? It still sucks. And he only uses cursive when it's absolutely required of him. Many of his numbers and letters closely resemble the Greek alphabet. P's, b's, d's, 6's and 9's are all identical except for orientation. I don't care much, he'll learn to type soon enough.
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