Handwriting is influenced by a number of different factors: age, patience, personality, where and how you learned to write… And although it’s a bit trivial, I love thinking about how handwriting habits evolve. I learned to write in the US, for example, but my father’s family is German, and I remember, at some point, deciding that I liked the way he wrote his K’s — something like a lopsided V with a stick angled off to one side, rather than the perpendicular line with sideways V we were taught in school. I’d now be pretty hard-pressed to write them any other way.
In junior high, I saw how my friend Elsie wrote her F’s starting from the base of the letter rather than the upper curve. After a bit of experimentation, I got used to writing them that way, too, and still do to this day. Ditto for the number 9, which I start and the base and curve, like my Russian friend Katya. I got used to using European 1’s back when I lived there, but I don’t do that anymore so as, first of all, to avoid confusion with American 7’s, but also because I suspect it might be a little pretentious. (I have, however, happily written my 7’s with a little slash through them since I was a child.)
In that sense, handwriting is like many other seemingly straightforward, insignificant habits: poke around for a bit and you can learn a lot about a person’s aspirations and affectations and patterns of thought.
I remember admiring the way an Austrian friend wrote her R’s back when I lived in Vienna, but by then it was too late to change.