On the contrary, my writing is uncommonly slow!

The above was written in 8 minutes and 24 seconds

Who would’ve thought it could take so long to learn one’s alphabet? March is over, but the handwriting must remain. Somehow. After 20 hours of practice with the Palmer Method of Business Handwriting, I definitely made significant progress, but I’m not yet to the point where it is particularly quick or attractive. At all. I think it would take a total of 30–40 hours to get to the point where I can write quickly, and not have to try and think of how each letter is formed, while simultaneously having the letters consistent & nice. To improve my handwriting at this point I need to shift my focus from handwriting to just writing. My individual letters are reasonable, but words are not. I must simply write a large volume of words, to train my mind to write with quick & beautiful penmanship.

The first six hours or so were spent just making circles and groups of lines, which would at first appear a monumental waste of time and paper, but in doing so, I trained myself to write using my entire arm, instead of just the wrist. Because of this practice employed by the Palmer Method, I was able to easily practice for an hour at a time without tiring in the slightest.

At the beginning of the month it took me 3 minutes 19 seconds to write the upper & lower case alphabet, ten numerals, and “A specimen of my best writing before I began to practice muscular movement writing from the lessons in The Palmer Method of Business Writing.” After 21 hours of practice with Palmer, it took me 8 minutes and 24 seconds—about three times as long! But even just practicing the letters and that phrase a few times at the end, I could tell that I was speeding up each time. The biggest problem is, as I mentioned, that good handwriting takes a little longer to learn. After 20 hours of practice, I was still mostly doing drills, writing “mine”, “uses”, “sell”, and my lower-case alphabet. I had not yet gotten into writing much of your general words, and as writing actual words with a new script takes some mental effort, it slowed things down considerably. I do believe though that I could hit my original goal of 20 words per minute after another 20 hours (40 total) of focused practice.

After these three months, it is beginning to appear to me that 20 of practice on most skills is not enough to be truly proficient, or to have an actually impressive skill level (although this may be different for things like unicycling & handstands). Instead it appears to be just enough skill to enable one to continue in that skill without frustration, and to enjoy it a bit.

I would say that The Palmer Method of Business Writing is definitely an excellent handwriting method, both for legibility, speed, and physical ease. With that said, I completely understand why handwriting is typically taught over years of school, instead of one month.

The Palmer Method of Business Handwriting


March’s skill is perhaps the most useful. Something I’m definitely in need of. I’ll be learning to write based on the Palmer Method, which specializes in combining legibility, rapidity, ease, and endurance. The Palmer Method was developed and taught by Austen Palmer in late 19th century into the early 20th, and published in a short textbook pamphlet (which I just so happened to have gotten at an antique book store a number of years back!). The handwriting method differs from the majority of handwriting, especially today, in that you don’t move your wrist at all while writing, but instead move your entire arm. This allows you to write for longer without tiring, and ensures a higher level of fluidity.

A couple of years ago I had spent an hour or so starting to learn this, and found that ballpoint pens really don’t work well at all, since they have little friction against the paper. Pencils work, but not superbly. A good fountain pen is marvelous. As such, in an effort to not expend large quantities of cash on skill acquisition, I went and purchased a pair of disposable Pilot® fountain pens. The only other item I need is paper (and a desk or table, of course), and that’s plentiful. For highest quality writing I could probably buy fancy paper, but for now I’m just going to use ordinary printer paper.

Target Performance Level:

My goal is to be able to write at 30 20 words per minute, and to have my handwriting look quite similar to the sample letters shown in the textbook:


Here is how my handwriting looks at present, as a comparison both for now, and when I have completed the 20 hours:

Handwriting Before

The capital letters on the first two lines line look so especially irregular primarily because of the height I was trying to make them, which is close to double the size I generally write.

After completing this I was shocked how almost-decent my writing actually looks—typically it is much worse. I guess it’s true, fountain pens really do show  an improvement in handwriting over ballpoint pens.

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