Lefties & Handwriting - Facts & Questions
Lefties make up about 10 % of the population, 20 % of high IQ society Mensa members, 25 % of Apollo astronauts, 80 % Macintosh computer designers, and 71 % of the last seven US Presidents (plus runner-up McCain). (1)
Left-handedness was also considered proof of witchcraft in the middle ages; physicians linked it to criminality in the 19th, and perversity in the 20th century. Catholic schools all over the world used corporal punishment until well into the 1970s. That’s right, school children literally had left-handedness beaten out of them, and many European countries made writing with your right hand compulsory. (2)
These superstitions have thankfully changed, so we can now turn to celebrating the handwriting from both hands. Or can we?
Meet Jacqui. She’s a coach I met at #writeshopweds, and she’s left-handed. We started chatting about handwriting and it turns out she really doesn’t like how hers looks.
“The other day, I finally cleaned up a corner in my room that had been bothering me for a long time. It was cluttered and didn’t look nice, but once I cleared and cleaned it up, I was like “yes”, I did that, and it looks great now. Cleaning up even one little corner makes a difference to how the whole room feels. That’s what I want to feel like when I look at a page of my handwriting - I’d love to have a clean corner or some structure to give the overall page a better feel. Because right now, it’s all over the place and no letter is the same than the next. They say left-handed people are more creative, and I don’t know what it is, but maybe we're using a part of the brain that doesn't allow handwriting to develop over time. Mine hasn't changed much at all, that's for sure.”
Kyle agrees, “Same for me, I’m left-handed and compensate by e.g. writing upwards on the page instead of from left to right, but it’s uneven and never looks the same.”
Spencer is a designer, and experiences a keen discrepancy: “One of the skills I wish I had is the hand skills needed to execute a type treatment I was envisioning. Often I could see it in my mind but when putting pen to paper, it never comes out the same. It’s almost as if my hand is rebelling against my brain.”
Hearing three different people around me basically say the same thing, I’m wondering - how many lefties aren’t happy with their hand writing? Or how many people in general? Because whenever I say I do lettering and calligraphy, the first thing I hear is, “oh, I could never do that, I have terrible handwriting.” Let me tell you now what I say to everyone I meet: your handwriting has nothing to do with lettering or calligraphy! But that’s a story for another post. ;-)
Back to you - if you’re also a leftie who doesn’t like how your handwriting looks, have you tried these tips? (3)
Rotate your paper
To avoid “hooking” your wrist and causing it to cramp, position the paper you’re writing on to your left. Now tilt it downwards, rotating it clockwise so that the top right corner hits the “3” on a clock face and is aligned with your vision.
Hold the pen a little higher up
One of the main issues described by lefties is that they often don’t see where the point of their pencil hits the paper, basically making a letterform blind. Holding the pen high enough that you see where the tip hits the paper will take most of the guesswork out of it and allow you to follow guidelines more closely.
Place the palm of your hand under the line you’re writing on
Give yourself space to write. You want to be able to see where you’re writing, and your arm should be able to move freely from the shoulder while keeping the wrist straight. Keeping the palm underneath the line you’re writing on will also prevent smudging as you move across the page.
Your turn - I’d love to hear from you! Does any of this resonate? Or maybe you’ve tried it and still prefer typing? Or maybe you have other tips that would make picking up a pen more enjoyable? Thanks for sharing, I really wanna know!