By Natalie Aldridge
In the first installment of our series on letter-writing, I made quite the confession. I do not know how to write in cursive. Much to the shock and horror of those my elder, I was never taught. A misfortune of modern schooling, cursive is no longer a taught subject and is even looked upon as passe. I suppose it was once imagined children of my generation would never need to use a pen and paper. Oh, l’ironie!
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, this posed no issue. My fingers are quick as lightning on a keyboard, and I can troubleshoot just about any technological malfunction. Now in my early adult years, I am utterly embarrassed by my penmanship. I recall the exact moment in which I realized the profound impact of my poor script. In the early days of my career, I was an intern at John Rosselli & Associates. The holidays were quickly approaching, and I was tasked with penning each Christmas card to be sent around the globe to various industry leaders and patrons alike. My stomach dropped and a sweat overcame my entire being. Giving it my all and many a deep breath I inscribed the first few notes. They were pitiful! With one glance from my supervisor of my grisly script, I was pulled from the chore.
Since this moment I have made a fierce point of improving my penmanship. With my newly found gravitation towards letter writing and the resurgence of its use, my efforts have rendered beneficial. Altering one’s handwriting and acquiring a cursive skillset is no easy task.
Through my assiduous attempt at improving my longhand, I have picked up a few tricks. Take a peek at my top tips…
- If you are a young adult like me who never learned cursive or maybe, you seek an improvement I encourage you to print out a stack of children’s letter trace worksheets. They are a godsend.
- Repetition is key! It may seem abecedarian to repeatably pen the letters of the alphabet, but this is the progress that engrains muscle memory. I now find myself writing out each letter on scrap paper or in my notebook while on the telephone.
- Find a style of cursive that captures your eye and adopt it. Over time your hand will adjust and it will become your own.
If I have not yet convinced you to pull out a pen and a pad of paper, then let’s turn to cursive expert Younghae Chung of Logos Calligraphy. Younghae is the author of Classic Calligraphy for Beginners (pre-order now) and is a highly sought calligraphy and cursive teacher with nearly 120K followers on Instagram. The Glam Pad had the good fortune of connecting with Younghae for a Q&A, and she is here to answer our burning cursive questions…
TGP: Please tell me about your mission to keep cursive alive, and why it is important.
Younghae: “Handwriting is an imprint of the self on a page” – Dr. Rosemary Sassoon
Although modern technology is increasing and rapidly growing in our society today, I believe it cannot replace the value and benefits of handwriting. Studies have linked handwriting to fine motor skills, brain development, creativity, composition, and more. As a mom of 3 boys, not only have I personally seen these benefits in teaching cursive to my kids, but I find that cursive can be enjoyed through ALL generations (children, parents, grandparents).
I recently received a message that said “She (a middle school student) was telling me how she loves handwriting notes because, in middle school, everyone uses laptops”. Perhaps with the decline in teaching cursive in schools, it has also piqued a greater interest in the younger generation!
TGP: What do your clients typically seek to gain from your services?
Younghae: Currently, I offer online calligraphy courses, resources (downloadable workbooks, practice pads), and workshops to help promote and share my love for penmanship and arts.
- Copperplate Foundations (9-week guided course with lifetime access)
- Fearless Flourishing (7-week guided course with lifetime access)
- Cursive Digital Workbooks (self-study extensive workbooks)
- Shop (practice pads, digital workbooks)
Since 2016, I’ve had the opportunity to teach thousands of students ranging from their 20s to 70s from all over the world. On occasion, I will work with clients and brands to offer custom commission pieces.
TGP: How does one who only knows print begin? How about someone who knows cursive but is rusty and wants to improve?
Younghae: Whether you are an absolute beginner or want to improve your cursive, you can get started now with my cursive digital workbooks. These extensive self-study cursive workbooks include an introductory guide (history of cursive, basic strokes, exemplar, how to use guide sheets), 60+ pages of traceable sheets with instructional notes to guide you through the letterforms and practice words/numbers.
*Note – The cursive letters that I teach are a simplified form of Spencerian and were developed by Austin Norman Palmer in the late 1800s. The letters will be on a 52-degree slant with a 30-degree connective slant. Because the letters are similar, learning cursive will be a great springboard to learning Spencerian.
TGP: How do you decide between which course to take – cursive, Spencerian, or Copperplate?
Younghae: Cursive is a monoline script that can be written with any writing tool (pencil, pen, marker, fountain pen, glass pen) whereas Copperplate/Spencerian are pointed pen shaded calligraphy scripts. With Copperplate/Spencerian, we will be writing with a metal, pointed, flexible nib to create beautiful thicks and thins.
I would encourage you to look at each one and see what script you are drawn to! Copperplate/Spencerian will have a slightly bigger learning curve if you have no experience writing with a pointed nib.
TGP: Which course would you recommend for someone who simply wants to improve their letter/correspondence writing skills, and what pens/tools do you recommend?
Younghae: If you want to improve your handwriting for correspondence, I encourage you to begin with cursive! I recommend either a 0.5 or 0.7mm mechanical pencil or gel pens to start.
Here are some of Younghae’s recommendations:
- Pentel Graphgear Mechanical Pencil – either a 0.5 or 0.7mm lead
- Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pen
- TUL Retraceable Gel Pen
- BIG Gel-ocity
Thank you Younghae for your expertise. And now, get those pens moving!
Side Note: There is good news that in many states across the U.S., cursive is experiencing a resurgence in the classroom. If you are interested in further explanation as to why cursive was eliminated from schools, the arguments for and against, and what is being done to bring it back, Reader’s Digest published an excellent primer in March 2022, which you can read here.
Please tune in next Friday for our final installment of our six-week series on letter-writing!
Follow TGP on Instagram: @theglampad
Follow Natalie on Instagram: @natalieealdridge
Follow Logos Calligraphy on Instagram: @logos_calligraphy
THE GLAM PAD’S LETTER WRITING SERIES
Below is an outline of The Glam Pad’s six-week series on the art of letter writing, and all that is related to the subject… Stay tuned next week as Natalie shares tips on cursive handwriting!
- APRIL 8: Why hand-written letters and fine stationery (and calling cards!) are making a comeback, particularly among the Millennial generation. CLICK HERE TO READ
- APRIL 15: The fascinating history of calling cards, and how they are relevant today. – A guest post by Nancy Sharon Collins. CLICK HERE TO READ
- APRIL 22: An overview of resources for fine stationery. What pieces do today’s letter writing enthusiasts need in their wardrobe and why? CLICK HERE TO READ
- April 29: A fabulously fun trend… Vintage stamps! How to begin a collection and use them to personalize your correspondence. CLICK HERE TO READ
- MAY 6: Why cursive handwriting is making a comeback, and what you can do to learn or improve.
- MAY 13: The ultimate in customization – A bespoke monogram and stationery created by Nancy Sharon Collins.