It may seem absurd to consider the way you hold your pen to write. Yet, your pen grip not only shapes your handwriting and your signature, but also sheds light on your intimate self. As the UCLA Ergonomics Program notes, “We develop our own handwriting styles in concert with the way our brain signals fire in unique patterns that are remarkably constant for each person.” Your pen grip serves as the foundation for writing each letterform and for the distinctive appearance of your writing. It's part of your style. Therefore, when exploring different writing styles, consider how you will hold your pen.
How You Hold Your Pen
Pick up a pen or pencil. Notice the way you automatically hold your pen. A Kid’s Health article says, “The best way to hold a pen or pencil is to let it rest next to the base of your thumb. Hold it in place with your thumb, and your index and middle fingers.” Notice which finger your pen rests on. Notice where along the length of the pen or pencil you grip. Write your name, sign your name, and write a sentence with a variety of letters. Experiment with printing and cursive writing. Notice if you move your fingers to write or if you hold your wrist and fingers still, using your whole arm to write.
Gentle But Firm: Precise Letters
Do not change the grip of your pen or pencil. With your natural grip, write without moving your fingers. Instead, use your forearm and wrist to form the letters. This causes less strain on your hand while creating detailed, precise letters or smaller letters.
Shift Your Grip: Elegant Letters
Grip your pen or pencil from an overhand position. Place all four fingers on top and pinch with your thumb from the bottom. Experiment writing the same words and sentences as before with this new grip. Move your forearm and wrist to move your pen and keep your fingers still. This overhand position is expressive; it is an excellent hold for sweeping, graceful and larger letterforms, as in calligraphy.
Your Writing Utensil
Choose a good writing utensil. A UCLA Ergonomics article on handwriting suggests selecting a pen with easy flow ink that fits your hand. Remember learning to write in kindergarten with a fat pencil? A pen should fit your hand and fingers. For fluid letterforms, chose a pen with good ink that fits your hand; choose a pencil with softer lead.
Eileen Pfefferle covers art, literature, language, culture, nutrition and yoga. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from the University of Wyoming. Pfefferle is a registered yoga instructor with a specialization in children's yoga.