Greg Marra has been writing letters back and forth to us from California, forcing me to once again use the archaic method of pen and paper for data input. I have been disturbed to see how awful and painful my handwriting is. By painful I mean painful to read, but also painful to write - I've turned into a finger-writer with a cramp-inducing scrawl.

My scrawl. This is painful to keep up for more than a few minutes. It's worse with a pen. On real paper.

Not good.

Therefore, it is practice time. After a 5-minute search sprint, I decided that I probably couldn't afford a book and should write in the air instead, progressing to printing out free online worksheets for practice once my letters were smaller than a sheet of paper. Oh man, I can work on my climb-and-slide letters! (i, u, w, and t, apparently.)

Then I realized that printing was silly because I have a tablet laptop. Right. So. There are different kinds of handwriting...

Trying out italic handwriting.

Increased legibility was to be had with italic script, but at the cost of being really confused over how to move the pen, and therefore far slower. What if I just changed the muscle groups I was moving?

Using a different hand position and more wrist.

Legibility not increased at all. Hand still cramps. Arm very confused. I realize I'm going to need to settle on something and then work on the muscle memory so my arm won't be confused.

Writing on a slanted surface, about 45 degrees. This makes my shoulder happy.

Triumph! (Well... improvement.) Now if I had a drafting table available at all times...

I can remember how to write cursive, but it takes time so I don't do it properly.

Writing in cursive was just a bad idea. The letters join together, but they don't flow, and some of them just look weird (does anyone understand where the capital cursive letter 'Q' comes from? I never got it). What about printing?

Printing is painfully slow. All-discrete letters are easy to read but hard to write. This is why I type.

Yeah, that didn't go over so well either. The whole "lift pen after each stroke" deal is woefully inefficient. And my "hybrid" handwriting is just too inconsistent and messy.

The blend of cursive and print/italic I've fallen into is ok, but too mutt-like - I form the same letter multiple times (see

Writing more systematically would make things easier. I should come up with a standard Mel-hand.

All right. Now if I practice doing these letters large and with good posture, and the same way each time (note no loop in the "g," that the "f" is print style instead of cursive, etc.) I can probably get it to be cleaner and clearer (and straighter and more regularly spaced) and write sans cramps. Still slower than I type and slower than I'd like it to be, but legible... not pretty, but legible.