Cursive is a word that basically just means the letters are joined. So, whether your cursive is bubbly and wide or teeny and scratchy; as long as those letters are connected, you, my friend, are writing in cursive.
Having a solid cursive writing style at your fingertips is useful. Cursive is nice to bring out for special occasions, like birthday cards and letters, and once you really get it down, it can become a beautiful style of day-to-day writing.
What tends to be most frustrating about this style of writing is that things can look a bit uneven. If you look at your own natural cursive and you aren’t happy with something, can it be attributed to uneveness? In my experience as a long-time letter writer, penmanship and calligraphy instructor, and type designer, this is exactly the case. Here are my best tips for improving your cursive.
Whether you are printing or writing in cursive, this tip will always ring true. Take something you’ve written in cursive and set it down next to you. On another sheet of paper, write the same exact thing but slow down when writing it. Compare the two. Is there a difference? When we slow down to write, it gives our hands time to create smoother strokes and more consistent connections. Get used to writing slower and you’ll soon be able to speed up without losing any quality in your penmanship.
Same Angle, Same Position
When you are writing in cursive, take note of the angle of the pen and the angle of your hand. Whatever angle you start with—keep it throughout the entire piece of writing. You see, when we change the angle of writing mid-stream that’s when we have problems.
Be Cognizant of Connections
Cursive is all about connections. If you have uneven connection points, those can be fixed by either slowing down or keeping a consistent angle. If you find yourself having to draw longer connections sometimes, you probably have changed your angle. If you find yourself with short and rough connection points, you need to slow down. These connection strokes in cursive are what make cursive cursive. They are what make this style of penmanship beautiful. They make it this way because they provide rhythm and repetition. Do you know what happens in a song where the drummer can’t keep a consistent beat? It doesn’t sound right. Same with cursive, keep that consistent stroke and connection going on.
It Takes A Little Time
Slowing down at first will give you some ‘breathing room’ in properly developing your style of cursive. If you don’t slow down at first, it’s like building the walls of the house before the foundation. Slowing down does not mean you are not a good writer or you are not capable of writing faster, it just means you are taking time to really master something well so that in the future, when you do speed up, you’ll be prepared and will be producing something that is the same quality as what you produced at a slower speed.
Your Cursive Will Be Different Than My Cursive
If you’re like me, you were taught cursive in second grade. We all were taught based on the same model and were graded on how close we were to that model. Don’t approach your penmanship the same way.
How I write cursive will not be how you write cursive. It can be helpful to look at other writing samples for ideas or as ways to diagnose connection problems (i.e. how others connect an ‘r’ to an ‘s’), but you should really work on developing your cursive independently. Go into it with the mindset that you are honing your own cursive; not that you are honing someone else’s cursive.
Find a Rhythm
One thing that may help you improve your cursive quickly is to find a rhythm in the way you write. Have you ever sat down to write and you noticed that words you were writing were flowing onto the page with ease? Did you notice that your hand might have fallen into a ‘rhythm’ of upstrokes and downstrokes? If you can write in a way where your upstrokes and downstrokes take the same amount of time, your writing will reflect this style. Because this tip is a bit abstract, I’m going to explain a simple exercise so that you can actually ‘hear’ your cursive. All you need is a felt tipped pen of some kind (or any pen that will give some squeak or scratch), any kind of paper and some quiet. Write in your natural cursive and ‘listen’ to your letters. Listen for your upstrokes and your downstrokes as you write. Does it sound smooth and consistent? Try writing in a way so that you ‘hear’ a rhythm in the way you write.
I’ve included an image of the ‘traditional’ model of cursive for you to take a look at. Chances are, you naturally do not write your capital Z like shown. That’s OK. Write how you write.
Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:
How to Write: Sympathy Notes
How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes
How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes
How to Write: Thank You Notes
How to Write: With a Fountain Pen
How to Write: To a New Penpal
How to Maintain Your Pen Collection