Most people write with their fingers, which means that they “draw” the letters. Calligraphy artists and professionals, however, don’t use their fingers at all. “Keep your arm and your wrist in the same position for every letter and motion,” Hooper advised. “You’re not wiggling your arm and your wrist around — it’s very controlled.”

To practice, hold your pen and write big letters in the air. The muscles you’re using are the ones you’ll be using to write on paper. Picture yourself writing on a chalk board. You have to use your arm and your wrist to write because if you were drawing the letters with only your fingers, the letters would be too small for someone across the room to read.

Write in the air until it becomes as natural as breathing. It’ll be awkward and feel silly at first. If you have a little kid around, get him/her to do it with you. You’ll both have fun, you won’t feel so alone, and it’ll be good for the child’s handwriting, too. If you don’t have a kid, tell your co-workers you’re improving your financial karma or hexing your boss.

I just tried to start writing with my shoulder, and now my normal finger writing is ruined! Looks like I’ll have to learn to write properly then.

"Your handwriting will change," says Cherrell, "but sometimes it looks worse before it gets better. Your spelling may also go to pot as the artistic side of your brain takes over temporarily. Don't worry if your writing looks childish at first. Once you get the letter formation right, then you can start to reintroduce more character into your style."

It’s not necessary to buy a gold fountain pen with jewel-studded nib and ink distilled from a virgin squid, unless you happen to be a particularly sophisticated Bond villain. But you should experiment until you find a type of pen (or even pencil) that works for you.

He attempts to make it look good by making it curvy and long, but to no avail.

I personally practice my handwriting by forcing myself to write slanting my letters to the right and curling the ends of my “g”s and “y”s(the main problem is that words like energy can look weird) into loops. Eventually it becomes a habit, and I flinch whenever I try to write an uncurled y. I’m still practising the “tall, slanted to the right letters” technique.

You need to sit up straight yet relaxed, with your non-writing fingers gently curled under your hand, and your hand position resting lightly on the table. Some people recommend having your writing surface at a 45-degree angle, which could be tricky unless you have a high-tech bat-desk, or are trying to save time by writing directly onto your laptop screen.

People for whom writing comes more easily may rest their hands fairly heavily on the paper, but their forearms and shoulders move as they write. Their writing has a cadence that shows they’re using at least some of the right muscle groups. They dont draw the letters with their fingers; the fingers serve more as guides.

Rather, your fingers should hold the pen in place and act as a guide, and all the movement should come from the shoulder girdle. This is one of the main muscle groups you use to raise your arm and rotate it in a big circle, like Popeye powering up for a thunder punch.

This exercise may help you determine which category is yours: Sit down and write a paragraph. Doesn’t matter what. Pay attention to the muscles you use to form your letters. Do you draw each letter with your fingers? Pick your hand up repeatedly to move it? Have an unrecognizable scrawl? Does your forearm move? Chances are, if you learned to write after 1955-60 (depending on where you went to grade school), you write with your fingers.

If you want to practice these basics even more, print out and work your way through this cursive writing workbook from Peterson Handwriting.

I really don’t see how writing like that would help…

I feel terrible to admit that my handwriting is worse than yours. I think it is time to throw away the dying spider style and work on writing nicely.

Excellent! I practice my handwriting by writing in my journal. I noticed that my handwriting changes with my moods. If I’m feeling frustrated, my handwriting looks scattered. If I’m calm, my handwriting is readable. I usually take a deep breath and re-center myself. After all, I’d like to be able to read what I wrote.

The good news is that just about everyone can improve their handwriting. But first, let's take a moment to think about just how complicated writing really is. It's not like sneezing or breathing, which your body does for you without you even thinking about it.

If you finger-write, that is the first, most important thing you must un-learn: Do not draw your letters! Do not write with your fingers! Put up signs everywhere to remind you. Write it in the butter, on the shaving mirror, stick notes in the cereal boxes. But learn it!

It’s true that a hand-written note tends to hold more value than a simple email or text. If you are able to craft such a note in decent, if not excellent, handwriting, you’re able to use this as a tool to create deeper relationships, and — according to some small business owners —  as an excuse to stand out from the crowd.

Wtf! Only an idiot would hold a pen like that!

Pen and paper don’t need batteries. Part of the convenience of pen and paper is that they don’t require batteries, so you never have to worry about losing power while you’re in the middle of writing something out.

I can vouch for Paperpenalia’s “shoulder writing” idea; where I work we, record a lot of our process data on blackboards mounted on the walls which forces me to write with my shoulder muscles and my writing is much neater than when I write on paper [horizontally].  Still not as good as I would like but a lot better…  I haven’t successfully adapted this skill to writing with a biro yet but it is probably just a matter of practicing some more.

Maybe there are a few letters you’ve never really been sure of (that would be you, joined-up s); or you want to impress that sexy graphologist you’re seeing by projecting the wonders of your personality through your loops and whorls.

Letters must be the correct height in relation to each other – if the height of your letters are wrong, your writing will be difficult to read. My ascenders and descenders are all over the place. My letter k, for example, has a tiny ascender, while my g , j and y have massive descenders that invade the line below, making my writing look cramped. Cherrell made me practice each letter again and again until I'd got it right.

Once you get used to this way of writing, your fingers will move very little, allowing your forearm to guide the pen and your shoulder to lightly push it into the paper for a much more streamlined style.

And while I use cursive to write in my journal for its ease, I also do it because it just looks nice and timeless.

Luckily, I had kept up with regularly writing in cursive so my handwriting was legible, and I could do it quickly without getting hand cramps. Ended up making an A-. Score one for penmanship.

After a long board game, how about some imaginative play? Pretend you're a movie star or famous athlete. Now, what do you do when your fans rush up to meet you? Give them your autograph, of course!

symbolises good education??? Sir, Gandhiji’s handwriting was not good.

Over the years here at the Art of Manliness we’ve sung the praises of the handwritten letter and simply writing things out by hand in general. Typically, when folks think about writing a handwritten note, they imagine doing it in cursive. Perhaps it’s because we’ve all seen movies set in times past where people open up handwritten letters to reveal a note filled with handsome script.

If you’re looking at using a textbook to help improve your handwriting, there are two books I would recommend.

Whatever the reason, I know a common refrain we hear with these posts is that many people feel their cursive handwriting is atrocious, to the point that it’s illegible. And when we get letters in the mail from readers, many of them begin with, “Sorry for my bad handwriting. This is the first time I’ve written in cursive since second grade.”

Starting a daily journal will give you a reason to practise your handwriting every day – if only for five minutes. Little and often is best.

How to improve handwriting

The Udemy course is marked down to $21 for new users.

My handwriting has been deteriorating for at least a decade, but last year was a tipping point. My brain seemed to stop connecting to my pen; I found myself missing out letters and scrawling in handwriting that was often illegible, my hand aching from the effort. It was better when I was eight years old.

Having the right pen, correct grip, and good posture is worth nothing if you’re drawing the letters with your fingers. Strange as it sounds, you should not be using your wrist and fingers to write — that leads to cramped, stilted writing, as well as fatigue.

“The key is to practice,” Hooper said. “Seems really simple, but it’s true. I recommend getting a set or printing out a set of grid lines and writing each letter several times as carefully as possible. Then move onto letter combinations.”

The first is Rosemary Sassoon’s Improve Your Handwriting ($13). The structure of this book encourages adult readers to experiment with styles to find the one that works for them, including left-handers.

Udemy have a highly rated 4-hour course titled Improve your Handwriting – Improve your Life ($100), with many past students citing “immediate improvements”.

Making relaxing scribbles on a page will help your writing style, by training your hand and eye to work together, and also teaching your pen to skim across the page smoothly and easily. Use spare moments to practise this – it's actually strangely relaxing.