If you do a lot of writing, you may occasionally find you have to write by hand – maybe your laptop or smart phone is low on juice, or you don’t have them available and you want to jot down a quick note. It’s much more difficult for most people to write by hand as quickly as they type or speak though. Luckily there are things you can do that will help you write by hand faster – this post will provide some tips.
Use a different type of pen – The type of pen you use can affect how fast you write. Most people use ballpoint pens or gel pens, but roller ball pens or fountain pens don’t require as much friction to write, so you can write faster with them. They also have thinner tips, which make thinner lines.
Use a pen with a thicker barrel – Pens with thicker barrels and padded grips are better, because they’re easier to hold – you don’t have to squeeze your fingers around a smaller barrel.
Maintenance – Cheap ballpoint and gel pens are more likely to malfunction – I’m sure at one point or another you’ve had to scribble like mad to get a cheap ballpoint or gel pen to write. Also, if you use white out, don’t write over it while it’s wet, because it will clog the tip of your pen.
Change your grip – if you loosen your grip and use a pen with a thicker barrel, as mentioned above, you’ll grip the pen properly, which reduces the amount of pressure you have to apply to write. It may feel awkward at first, but over time you’ll realize that you’re not straining your muscles as much to write.
Write smaller – If you write your letters smaller, your pen won’t have to travel as far to write them. The downside of this is that it takes time to learn to write small, and it can have a negative affect if you write too small, because you and other people will have a hard time reading what you wrote. Aim for decreasing the size of your handwriting by 10 to 15 percent – that way you’ll increase your handwriting speed, but your letters will still be legible.
Write tall and skinny – Most people don’t have a hard time writing up and down – this is because our fingers can only bend up and down, which means side to side motions are more difficult for our hands. You can get around this problem by writing taller, skinnier letters – this reduces the amount of horizontal movement and masks the messiness that comes with side to side motion.
Get your arm involved – Use your arm to move your pen or pencil from side to side instead of your wrist. This reduces the amount of strain on your wrist, which allows you to write more comfortably and for longer periods of time.
Sit with proper posture – When you sit properly, you’ll take pressure off the arm and hand you use to write – hunching over your paper adds extra weight.
Use your other arm for non-writing tasks – If you’re not using your other arm for non-writing tasks, you should – this frees up your dominant hand to write. Things that your non-dominant arm and hand can do include highlighting, erasing, flipping pages, using your calculator and your mouse. You can also try becoming ambidextrous (learn to use both hands) – that way you can switch between hands when one gets tired.
Use symbols – You probably already do this when you write to some extent – for example, you may use some kind of symbol to represent the word “and,” and you probably use the @ sign for at, especially if you have to write out an email address. Be sure to make your symbols easy to remember, and if others are going to be reading your notes, make sure they know what words the symbols stand for.
Learn shorthand – This is the best way to write faster. If you use shorthand, you may be able to get your writing speed up to 200 wpm if you work at it. There are several different shorthand systems that are used:
- The fastest and most popular system that’s used in the US is Gregg shorthand. It’s based on both phonetics and spelling – it uses different squiggly lines to represent words. An example of Gregg shorthand is shown below:
- Pitman’s shorthand is based more on the sounds of speech rather than spelling – for example, the letter “f” is going to be written the same, whether it appears in the word “find,” “elephant,” or “tough.” It relies on slashes, curves, and dots to stand for the sounds of language. An example of Pitman shorthand is shown below:
- Speedwriting is a phonetic system that condenses words so that you don’t write out the silent letters – it uses symbols to stand for certain sounds. For example, a period stands for “the” and a plus sign stands for “and.” Speedwriting is considered to be more than twice as fast as longhand writing. An example of speedwriting is shown below:
- Keyscript shorthand is another phonetic system. It uses only lowercase letters, and allows you to write up to 2 1/2 times as fast as you would writing longhand. You can see an example of Keyscript shorthand vs other shorthand methods here.
Lean boustrophedon – Boustrophedon is where you write from right to left on line one, then left to right on line two, and keep alternating your writing direction for each line. If you can learn to read and write this way, you’ll reduce the amount of time it takes for your hands to reach the next line – this really adds up over time, so you’ll save a lot of time.
Whatever methods you choose to improve your handwriting speed, be sure to practice them – after all, practice is the only way that you’ll improve. If you have use any of these methods, or any other methods to write by hand faster, I’d love to hear your story – please feel free to comment below.