Top Tips to Improve Handwriting by an Occupational Therapist

  • Use a slanted writing surface: A slanted surface can help you write at a comfortable angle and prevent smudging compared to just a flat surface.
  • Use the optimal writing instrument: Left-handed people tend to smudge their writing when using a pen or pencil, so it may be helpful to use a pen with a felt tip or a pencil with a larger eraser. Experiment with different types and consider looking for specialized writing instruments.
  • Practice holding the writing instrument properly: Left-handed people should hold the pen or pencil with their thumb and first two fingers, rather than gripping it tightly with all fingers.
  • This one is probabaly obvious, but practice writing: Practice makes perfect! The more you write, the more comfortable and natural it will become. It may take years to get better, especially young students learning first to write in school.
  • Adjust your writing position: Experiment with different writing positions to find the one that feels most comfortable for you. Some left-handed people find it helpful to write with their arm extended, while others prefer to write with their arm close to their body. Everyone is built different and they write different too.
  • As mentioned, be aware of smudging if you write in Western cultures. Left-handed people tend to smudge their writing more than right-handed people, so it’s important to be aware of this and to position your hand in a way that minimizes smudging.
  • Get a left-handed pencil grip: A left-handed pencil grip can make it easier to hold the pencil correctly and write with better control than writing without one.
  • Take breaks: Writing for long periods of time can cause your hand to cramp up or become fatigued. Taking regular breaks can help prevent this. This applies for righties just as much as lefties.
  • Use specialized lined paper: Lined paper can help you keep your writing straight and even, making it easier to read. It’s pretty hard to write straight without one in general.
  • Make sure your writing surface is at the right height: Your writing surface should be at a comfortable height so that your arm is at a natural angle while writing. Not too low and not too high. You may want to consider using a standing desk too.
  • Use a handwriting guide: A handwriting guide can help you keep your writing straight and even, and can also help you to write in the correct size and spacing. Some may work better than others so try experimenting with different ones.
  • Learn calligraphy: Calligraphy is a great way to improve your handwriting. It helps you to focus on the form of the letters and to develop control over your writing. You can make good money doing it too, such as for wedding invitations.
  • Seek help from a specialist: If you’re experiencing difficulty with your handwriting, it may be helpful to seek the help of a specialist such as an occupational therapist. Did you know that OTs work in the school setting with students on handwriting? They can help you to identify the causes of your difficulties and to develop strategies to overcome them.

Using this list, try different combinations of these tips. Some may work better than others, some may make your handwriting worse. Everyone is different and had their own unique strengths. While writing left handed can be difficult, many people are able to do it functionally and with less frustration.

Should you switch and write with your right hand? It can be tempting and you may even have been forced to do so. This is a controversial topic but in terms of development…

Writing with the non-dominant hand can be a challenging task, but it can also be a valuable skill to have. There are a few different reasons why someone might choose to write with their non-dominant hand:

Rehabilitation: After an injury or illness, writing with the non-dominant hand can be a way to retrain the brain and regain the ability to write. An example is stroke.

Ambidexterity: Writing with the non-dominant hand can help to develop ambidexterity, or the ability to use both hands equally well. This can be useful in certain professions, such as art or music, where the ability to use both hands can be advantageous. This can be very useful as a skill.

Brain development: Writing with the non-dominant hand can stimulate the brain and promote neural development. Left-handed writers use the right side of their brain to write.

Improving fine motor skills: Writing with the non-dominant hand can help to improve fine motor skills, which can be beneficial for everyday tasks such as typing and using tools. This kind of makes sense.

So should you switch? That’s entirely up to you, and even culturally dependent (Asian cultures for example, may favor right-handed writing) but for children who first show dominance, most would argue that they continue using their preferred hand to write.

Last we should address the mental aspects of being a left-handed writer. Left-handed individuals may also feel self-conscious or embarrassed about their writing, especially if they have been told by teachers or peers that it is “wrong” or “bad.” This can be discouraging and may lead to a lack of confidence in their writing abilities.

But don’t let that stop you! You are not alone. It’s important to remember that left-handed writing is not inherently “wrong” or “bad,” and that with practice and patience, left-handed individuals can develop good handwriting that is even better than those who are right-handed. Like you doctors out there! 😉