Hi there, fountain pen friends! Lydia here again to bring you our third episode of the Left Out series for left handed fountain pen users. In this episode we will be taking about handwriting, smudging or smearing, and my picks for fountain pens, inks, and paper for each lefty writing style.
One of the common misconceptions about us southpaws is that all lefties have messy handwriting. Because we are forced to learn writing backwards basically with tools that aren’t always ideal for us, it is assumed that our handwriting will never be neat and tidy. In my own personal experience, I can definitely say I struggled with handwriting in school. I was a sidewriter all throughout my school years and it wasn’t until I found fountain pens that I actually discovered the joy of writing for fun. My handwriting even got better when I started using fountain pens! Here are my three tips to help you improve your handwriting with fountain pens.
- Practice and take it slow! To change your writing, you need to slow it down and take care in forming the letters the right way. I find even I regress into poor penmanship when I start writing too fast. When you’re working to clean up your handwriting, be sure to take it slow and let your brain remember how to form each letter and give it its due attention. This will improve your writing tremendously.
- Get a feel for your pen and ink and allow yourself to get comfortable. Coming from the ballpoint world, it’s hard to get used to the fact that fountain pens require no pressure to write and the ink just flows. The pressure and resulting hand-cramping of ballpoints is a huge culprit in bad handwriting. Practice releasing that tension and watch your handwriting grow better before your eyes.
- Decide if Cursive or Manuscript is better for you. As an underwriter, cursive works better for me so I can move my hand in a fluid, continuous motion and I don’t break my concentration or writing motion by picking my pen up and putting it down with each letter. I utilized the CursiveLogic workbook to help me slow down and appreciate each letter I was writing. That may not be the case for everyone. Practice both writing styles and find the one that’s right for you.
Smearing or smudging is another issue we face as lefties that makes writing difficult. If we use the wrong ink or have our hands in the wrong position, writing can go from beautiful to illegible in the swipe of a hand. Here are some of my tips to avoid this occurrence.
- Turn the paper to stay out of the line of writing. Keeping your hand perpendicular to your writing line will keep it out of danger of smudging what you just wrote
- Use a drier ink. The LAMY or Pelikan 4001 lines of inks are on the drier side and yet, still perform well. They do not remain wet on the page as long, so you can’t track them along the page as you go.
- Train yourself to be an underwriter. It may seem impossible to fathom teaching yourself a new trick like this but you may find it actually turns out to be comfortable to write this way when you get the hang of it. If you focus on keeping your hand out of the line of writing, it will become second nature and you can write without concern in no time!
Finding the right pen, ink, and paper for your writing style can be a challenge. I included some recommendations below to try, in hopes it will give you a good starting point.
- LAMY Safari/ AL-Star – The swappable nibs on this pen allow you to find the one that works for you, they even have a Left Handed nib with a slight oblique grind that may work great for some lefties. I really enjoy the smooth flow of mine.
- TWSBI Eco – This pen is definitely one of my favorites. The ink flow is so smooth and easy. I have a Medium and an Extra Fine and have never had a smudging problem with either one. The Eco is especially good with some of my drier inks, because the generous flow helps me to avoid hard starts while still letting the ink dry quickly on the page.
- Pilot Varsity – This great value pen comes pre-loaded with a well behaved ink and can be refilled with a different ink of your choice (just yank out the nib and feed and refill the body of the pen).
- Noodler’s Bernanke Blue – This ink is fast-drying and vivid. You can have fun with your writing using a colorful ink without the fear of smudging your writing.
- Pelikan 4001 Violet – The Pelikan 4001 series inks are my top recommendation for a brand that is dry across the board. This Violet ink is especially fun for its color but conservative in its flow and saturation for worry-free writing.
- Robert Oster Black Violet – This is the most conservative of my picks in color but still holds up well in the dry time category. This complex purple-black hue is great for the office and behaves well on all paper types.
- Underwriters: Clairefontaine – This is smooth, coated paper that helps the pen float across the page. It is my personal favorite as an underwriter, but can be an issue for lefties that need a paper that sucks the ink in to avoid smudging. Ink tends to linger on this paper.
- Sidewriters: Leuchtturm1917 – This is my favorite absorbent paper we carry. I find I can use any ink on this paper and not worry about my hand smudging it later on.
- Overwriters: Rhodia – It’s the perfect blend of absorbent and smooth. Your pen will glide across the paper but your ink won’t sit on the page quite as long and will absorb in a decently quick time.
I hope these tips have proved to be helpful for you. If there are other topics you would like to see me cover in a future Left Out video or tips you’d like to share with fellow lefties, feel free to post in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.