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Handwriting: Improving and Developing a Personal Style


I’ve been studying Chinese for about a year and a half now. Chinese class saved me from a very repetitive, heavy course load, and it introduced me to a daily joy in my life: writing Chinese characters.

I have spent countless hours writing since I began this journey, and because I care a lot for stroke order and form, I have a very legible style of handwriting. I’m mostly happy with how my handwriting looks but,

  1. I write too slow. I think this is because I am careful to a fault. What this means is that if I am not happy with how a character looks, I will erase it and write it again, sometimes numerous times even if I wrote it properly the first time. It has become a problem because although I do well on exams, I usually finish last, and I have on at least 2 occasions had to ask for additional time to take the exam. I find this pretty embarrassing. I’m not sure if there is a way to help with this problem, but I figured I’d ask anyway.

  2. I feel like my handwriting doesn’t have personality. I see written Chinese, flowing and natural. When I compare it to my own, my handwriting feels stilted and mechanical. What are some ways you developed your own handwriting? Did you try to copy native writers’ character writing? Goof around with your handwriting on your own?

Here’s a sample of my handwriting. Feel free to share your own handwriting, or styles you really admire!

Just so its clear, this is my notebook for when I’m practicing writing using ANKI. There are mistakes, usually followed by a correction. And there is no rhyme or reason to the order of the words, only that the algorithm dictated I should practice those characters in that order.

I just saw your post. I hope my response is still relevant to you. I believe your Hanzi writing is flawless. I can’t imagine being embarrassed when you can write so well. Kudos to you.

  1. I enjoy writing slow. When I practice writing, I cherish making the characters correctly. I have made 400+ 3x5 flashcards to help me memorize characters. (FYI, I’m a solid Elementary when my biorhythms are in gear.) I write characters in pencil using the CPOD screen as reference. Then I quiz myself and overwrite any I can’t memorize again and again in pencil. Finally, I use bold black pen over the pencil when I know I have memorized that word.

I’m hopeful your instructors responded to your requests for more time positively! As a retired language instructor if any student respected their learning enough to ask for a reasonable accommodation they earned that respect from me in return and I bent over backwards to get them to their goal.

  1. Your handwriting seems to have a definite personality! Honest. It is unique. And it is very clear. As a learner, clarity is the most important for me. (The most frustrating thing for me is trying to read the fancy swirly motif style Mandarin advertisements. Ugh.)

I searched a bit on the web and found this interesting blog post Can Chinese people write Chinese as fast as people do in English? Perhaps it will help you to see your writing from another perspective.

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