Learn to Write With Your Arm
My name is Dave and I started WriteWithYourArm.com to help you learn to write with your arm like the great American penman of the past.
The free content on this website will help you learn to use your arm to write the traditional American script known as Business Penmanship or Palmer Method.
Lesson #1: What does it mean to write with your arm?
When someone says you should "write with your arm", what do they mean? This lesson shows you exactly what arm writing is.
Depending on what you want from you handwriting, learning to write with your arm may not be right for you.
Understand the mechanics of arm writing and why it is difficult to use the arm to write.
The Great Tradition of American Penmanship
The Golden Age of Penmanship (late 1800s to early 1900s) was an era of American art and commerce that generated the highest quality penmanship the world has ever seen. Typewriters were not yet popular, therefore quality penmanship was critical for record keeping and correspondence. Individuals that were able to write legibly, quickly, and without fatigue were more likely to be hired for positions that included significant writing duties.
The demands of the commercial world led to penmanship education that focused on using the arm to write. The arm, when developed, is able to write legibly at a high rate of speed without fatiguing. The Palmer Method, Business Penmanship, and Muscular Movement are all terms used to describe the type of writing that was being taught during the Golden Age.
Of course, some students became especially talented penman and made their living as penmanship educators and pen artists. The work left behind by the masters of the Golden Age is so stunning that to the untrained eye, it is hard to believe it was done by hand.
For many of us, the work that was left behind by the Golden Age penman inspired us to learn how to write like they did. If you're reading this, you are probably inspired as well.
This website is just a starting point for learning about the history of American penmanship and learning to write with your arm. The Lessons I've created are a great starting point and the Study Resources will provide you with enough material to last a lifetime.
What is Business Penmanship?
Business Penmanship (aka business script, business writing, practical penmanship, or Palmer Method) is a script that evolved from traditional Spencerian (or shaded) script to serve more practical, or business, purposes. Business script features simplified forms without shading that are easier to execute with arm movement. Examine the two examples below to see how business script is a simplified version of shaded script.
Example of Shaded (Spencerian) Script
Example of Business Script
What book should I study from?
There are so many classic penmanship books available for free online and I recommend you read at least two different books. Reading multiple perspectives will give you a better idea of how writing with your arm works.
You can see which books and resources I recommend on the Resources page.
Will I write faster with my arm?
Writing with your arm will likely increase the speed of your handwriting, but mostly because you can write for longer without stopping. When you write with your fingers, the wrist and hand tire quickly and you need to take breaks, which slows you down. When you write with your arm, there is no fatigue and you can continue writing without taking breaks.
For more on how to write faster, go to this Lesson.
How much should I practice?
This depends on what you want. My general advice is to practice as much as you want to. If you practice more than that, it’s going to be a struggle and you will burn out eventually. Most people that learn to write with their arm successfully had long periods of time where they practiced on a daily or almost daily basis.
I’ve made a video that goes into this question further, which you can watch below.
How long does it take to learn to write with your arm?
I can only guess that it takes most people between one and six months to become comfortable writing with their arm. Here are some of the key factors that will determine how long it will take you:
- How serious are you about learning to write with your arm?
- Are you practicing on a regular basis or do you go long stretches without touching the pen?
- Do you have long arms that are harder to control?
- Do you have a sensitive touch?
- Have you developed your fine motor skills through other activities?
- Have you developed your ability to perceive shapes and space?
The bottom line is that if you really want to learn, none of the questions above matter. Just pick up the pen and start learning.
Check out these books, websites, and social media accounts to dive deeper into traditional American penmanship.
I've made a list of recommendations for those that want experiment with pens, ink, paper, & other tools.
Learn more about me, how long I've been studying penmanship, and why I started this site.