Penmanship Practice - Muscle Memory

Crazy Muscle Memory

Our memories, particularly our muscle memories, are the craziest things.

Last week I posted about a Jake Weidman tedtalk on penmanship. As a fun exercise, and as something to practice together, my dad and I have started to work on our penmanship. We’ve played around with different pens—fountain pens with their inks, gel pens, regular ballpoint bens—just seeing which ones are easier to work with when you’re trying to keep a better grip and have flowing script.

My dad’s settled on gel pens and I’m torn between a decent fountain pen and a gel pen, but either way, it does weird things to the brain. I’m finding that as I’m writing during the day, I unconsciously start mixing print with cursive. This isn’t something I’ve had happen to me before. I have to pause and think about the letters I’m creating.

The crazier part to me, however, is my dad’s writing. His handwriting has always been messy. Readable, but messy. But as we’ve started practicing, his penmanship is better than mine. This beautiful, flowing script was hiding somewhere in him all these years and no one, not even my mom, knew it!

But he learned penmanship in school. I learned cursive, sure, but not to the degree he did. And now, decades later, that muscle memory is still in him. How cool is that?! It just encourages me that the time we put into practicing anything is not wasted. It might atrophy, but it’s still experience our brains and bodies can use later.



8 thoughts on “Crazy Muscle Memory”

  1. Fascinating how muscle memory works! I recently started writing in journals longhand again after years of only typing everything, and somehow I still remember all my cursive from elementary school!

  2. Wow, this brought back some memories! Cursive was drilled into me and then I spent the next 3 years being only allowed to write anything for school in cursive. Over 20 years after I wasn’t required to do it anymore, I still slip back and forth, even in the middle of writing a word, though I’m not always sure if it’s muscle memory or my brain suddenly forgetting how to write a letter in print. Muscle memory is really a wonderful thing to have, and that’s so fascinating that your dad has such incredible writing! It’s so great to be able to find out the things that were just so ingrained, especially when it wasn’t known to be there at all.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who switches between cursive and print without intending too! I’ve no idea what the brain is doing when it happens. But it is encouraging to see what has stuck after so many years 🙂

  3. Not sure what to comment on here, since it’s not in cursive?!? Will just have to imagine and see it flow.

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