What really separates fast writers from slow writers? With these simple changes in technique, you can dramatically increase your writing speed and stamina.
Table Of Contents
- Use a Fast Pen | Use a high quality ergonomic fountain or rollerball pen.
- Optimize Your Technique | Optimize your grip, change your writing style, write with your arm and fix your posture.
- Engage Your Other Arm | Make smart use of your other arm.
1. Use A Fast Pen
The easiest way to improve your writing speed is to change your writing tool. If you’re using a ballpoint pen or gel pen, consider switching to a rollerball pen or fountain pen. Here’s why:
- Tip Friction & Pressure – Certain types of pens drag on the paper more than others resulting in greater friction, slower writing speeds and increased wrist strain. Cheap ballpoint pens are the worst, because they use viscous ink which requires more downward pressure to write. The more weight you need to apply on the pen, the faster you will exhaust your muscles and the slower you will write.
- Line Thickness – Thicker tip pens (0.7 mm and 0.9 mm) are easier to write with, but they also facilitate heavy handed and large-stroke writing styles. Try switching to a thinner tip pen. This will make it easier for you to write with less downward pressure and allow you to write smaller, more detailed letters. Instead of using gel and ballpoint pens, try switching to rollerball and fountain pens. Because the ink flows out so easily from rollerball and fountain pens, you will inevitably write faster and lighter.
- Grip – A comfortable grip facilitates good form, increased writing speeds and better technique. Generally, pens with wider barrels (i.e. thicker) with padded grips are better, because they’re easier to grip and they don’t force your fingers to squeeze around a small barrel.
- Maintenance – Cheap ballpoint and gel pens are more likely to malfunction. We’ve all had to try and scribble like mad to fix the ball in a pen. Avoid wasting time and money by using a better pen. Also, never write over wet white-out; it will likely clog the tip of your pen.
Pen Type Comparison Table
Ballpoint pens are the cheapest and easiest to use (no smudge), but they fail in the most important metric: speed. Because fountain and rollerball pens require so little downward pressure in order for the ink to flow, they allow you to write much faster. They also require significantly less muscle strength, so your wrists will cramp far less frequently.
The Best Pens
- Rollerball – Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball Pens are arguably the best overall pens on the market. If you’re looking for an easy to use pen that writes quickly and well, these are it.
- Fountain – Pilot Varsity Disposable Fountain Pens are undoubtedly the best starter fountain pens on the market. Most fountain pens are $100+, but these give you the same writing quality at a fraction of the price.
- Erasable – If you need the ability to erase, then Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens are a no-brainer. The eraser on these actually work better than pencil erasers!
- For Lefties – The best all-around smooth writing, quick-dry ink pen is the Uni-ball Jetstream Quick Dry Pens.
Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball Pens
Pilot Varsity Disposable Fountain Pens
Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens
Uni-ball Jetstream Quick Dry Pens
BONUS: The Best Mechanical Pencil
The best overall mechanical pencil is, without a doubt, the Uni-ball KuruToga Rotating Mechanical Pencil. The beauty of this mechanical pencil is that it rotates the lead slightly every time you lift the tip off the paper. In this way, it keeps the tip evenly sharp at all times, prevents uneven stroke widths and reduces tip breakage.
Uni-ball KuruToga Rotating Mechanical Pencil
2. Optimize Your Technique
Loosen Your Grip
Cheap, thin pens force your fingers to squeeze around the thin barrel, creating unnecessary strain on your fingers and wrist. By attaching a pen grip or using a pen with a thicker barrel, you will allow your fingers to grip the pen properly, reducing the amount of pressure you apply to write. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but after adapting to the thicker barrel of a pen with a proper thickness, you will quickly realize the greatly reduced muscle strain.
The smaller a letter is, the less your pencil has to travel to finish it. By decreasing the size of your letters, you can increase your writing speed. However, learning this is quite time consuming and can actually have a negative effect if you write too small. I wouldn’t recommend drastically reducing your letter size, but a 10 – 15% decrease for most people should increase your writing speed without decreasing legibility.
Write Tall & Skinny
The vast majority of people don’t have any difficulty writing up and down, only side-to-side. This is because of the way our hands are constructed; our fingers can only bend up and down. This makes up and down motions easy, but side-to-side motions difficult. To get around this problem, try writing taller, skinnier letters. This reduces the amount of horizontal movement and masks the messiness associated with the side-to-side motion.
Engage Your Arm
You should be using your arm to move side-to-side, not your wrist. Instead of relying solely on your wrist to write, allow your forearm to guide your hand across the paper. This will reduce the strain on your wrist, allowing you to write more comfortably and for longer periods of time.
When you hunch over the desk when writing, you add additional weight onto your arms, causing them to fatigue more quickly. Make sure to sit in a way the takes pressure off your writing arm/hand.
3. Engage Your Other Arm
If you aren’t already utilizing your other hand for secondary tasks, you should. Here is a list of things you other hand can take care of, saving time for your dominant hand to do what it does best: write.
- Use the Highlighter
- Flip pages
- Control the calculator
- Control the mouse
If you have the time to develop the skill, you could also try to become ambidextrous. Being ambidextrous means having equal proficiency in both hands (i.e. being able to write equally well with both hands). In this way, you could simply switch between hands when one gets tired.