I need to learn to write!
February 6, 2013 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I need to learn to write with my other hand. How do I do this?

One of the unfortunate side effects of my getting "older" (even though I'm only 44) is that I have developed essential tremor in my left hand. It's not terribly severe, and not worth pursuing medical options for - the main effect it has on me is that I can't eat soup with my preferred left hand - but unfortunately, I am left-handed in most things I do.

I have figured out how to do most fine-motor things either with my right hand or with a combination of my left hand supported by my right, but it occurred to me today that I would benefit from learning how to write with my right hand, as my handwriting, which was never good anyway, is only getting worse.

Do any structured programs for learning how to write (not cursive, just legible print writing) exist, or is it just a matter of doing it until I'm good at it? If there are structured programs, are they any good?
posted by pdb to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
As silly as it sounds, the best thing to do would probably be to get the tablets that kids learn to write on. They've usually got them with big, dotted-line letters. Trace the letters. Do it over and over. You can probably find them online to print out yourself, or go to a teacher supply store and buy them pre-printed.

As a teenager, I sprained my wrist really badly and had it in a cast for a while. I had to learn to write with my non-dominant hand. It came fairly easily for me, but regular practice was definitely the best thing for improving it. It never got as neat as my normal handwriting, but I only did it for a month or so. The bigest problem I ran into was accidental mirror-writing. Apparently I think of letterforms as moving in and out from the center of my body, rather than left and right.
posted by duien at 11:37 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Just keep working at it. I know this isn't the same thing, but I started brushing my teeth with my non-dominant (left) hand as a weird little personal exercise, and I could notice an improvement in a few days, though it still felt awkward.

For a clear example of improved skill by repetition, see non-dominant hand adventures, and subsequent comics (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9), before she returned to using her right hand.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:38 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I broke my writing hand (left) while I was still in school, before the days of electronic everything, and while it was healing, I just wrote over and over with my right hand until it got better.

I suggest copying passages out from books or from articles--or even your question here, which would provide practice with the most common letter combinations.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 12:14 PM on February 6, 2013

Have you considered going to an occupational therapist? Or -- and I know this sounds odd, but someone I know did it -- taking a calligraphy class?
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:20 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Might just be practice. I did the latter (from right to left) very concertedly as a teen and got my non dominant hand up to about a shaky 3rd grader doing cursive. More practice might get me similar enough speed.

But look around for white boards and kid letter pads, just work your way down to the right size.
posted by tilde at 12:39 PM on February 6, 2013

I have this book and I think it's a really cool book on the topic. But in my experience, it's mostly just a lot of practice.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:07 PM on February 6, 2013

As a right handed person, writing the alphabet with my left hand was one of my favorite ways of passing time in boring college classes; I figured I might as well learn something.

Anyway, don't automatically toss out the idea of writing in cursive. Because you already know how to form the letters, you might find that the flow of cursive makes it easier to write instead of constantly lifting and moving your pencil which printing requires.

You can pick up handwriting practice books at any bookstore. These books help because they make you practice the most common hand movements and shapes. Yes, it is repetitive, but that is how you train your muscles. They also remind you about holding the pen/pencil correctly and how to position your paper for best results.

Good luck to you!
posted by NoraCharles at 2:32 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was born right handed and am now self taught ambidextrous. This torturous process has taken a few years.

How did I do it?

Easy, I mindfully made a choice to use my left hand for everything I do(I was right handed).

Start with grosser activities, brushing your teeth, switching what hand you hold the knife with, mousing with your non dominant hand, etc. Writing took the longest. Expect things to be quite messy for a while, but if you focus on going slow and shaping every letter, then you will get there.

There are no shortcuts though, you have to consciously and constantly make the effort for a long time, but I will tell you the payoff is priceless.
posted by jalitt at 4:11 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

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