Start by thinking what you want it to do. Can other people read it? Badly formed letters make it hard to distinguish between “a” and “u”, or “n” and “r”. Can you write as fast as you need? Letters that lean all over the place cause havoc when you try to speed up. Or maybe you want to make a good impression without looking affected. Careful handwriting that won praise when you were seven can look immature today. It needs to express your character now.
It’s helpful to brush up your technique (there’s great advice in Sassoon’s classic book Teach Yourself Better Handwriting), but for genuine improvement you need to relax. “If you’re worried about your writing, you’re worried full stop,” says Sassoon. Start by doodling to help loosen a tense grip and check your writing position. The Victorians were right: a sloping surface can make all the difference to comfort, so create your own by slipping a book beneath one end of a clipboard or resting on a spiral-bound notebook with the thin side towards you.
Next, adjust your pen hold — especially important if you have writer’s cramp or a callused finger. The traditional pincer hold is fine for fountain pens but ballpoints and fiber tips need a more upright grip. Try slipping the pen between your first and second fingers so it rests between them, arranging your fingers along the barrel. It feels unnatural at first but it’s amazing how soon you can write with speed and accuracy.