Author Topic: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?  (Read 4419 times)

Offline ernie_tan

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How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« on: January 08, 2015, 12:13:48 PM »
I know...the answer must be practice practice and practice. But do you have any specific drill to reduce shaky hand? I find that writing in good posture and comfortable arm position might help. And how I hate when I am doing a piece for a gift, I am sooo nervous and made silly wobbly lines. But when I am on a casually practice, my upstroke is perfect (OK, not perfect, neaaarly perfect). Gah!! Do you think writing faster will make it better? Because I see so many people could write in a snail tempo, but amazingly steady. Hm...?!

Ernie Tan
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Offline joi

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2015, 12:16:55 PM »
I know...the answer must be practice practice and practice. But do you have any specific drill to reduce shaky hand? I find that writing in good posture and comfortable arm position might help. And how I hate when I am doing a piece for a gift, I am sooo nervous and made silly wobbly lines. But when I am on a casually practice, my upstroke is perfect (OK, not perfect, neaaarly perfect). Gah!! Do you think writing faster will make it better? Because I see so many people could write in a snail tempo, but amazingly steady. Hm...?!

you gave yourself the answer...practice practice practice.  warm up sufficiently before starting a project.  when you are seeing your warm up not shaky, then proceed.  and just take a deep breath, there is nothing to be nervous about.  you know what you are doing and have confidence in that, and it will show in your strokes.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 02:09:08 PM by joi »

Offline Starlee

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2015, 02:03:10 PM »
Ernie, I encounter the same issue. Everything always seems to go awesome in practice...then the moment you really care...bam!...mistakes galore! It goes to show the power of state of mind. As you so accurately pointed out and Joi seconded, practice really is the only solution. The more comfortable you get over time, the more confident your motions will be as you will not be second guessing yourself as much. I have started to notice that. We just need to be patient and keep persisting. :)
Star

Offline Salman Khattak

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2015, 04:48:18 PM »
You pointed it out yourself and others have confirmed it - practice is needed. But practice for what? If you can manage proper form in practice than surely you have developed the skill.

As Star pointed it out, it is the state of the mind. In other words, confidence in your ability to execute all required strokes properly and with control. The way to develop that is with 'mindful' practice i.e. you decide what you are going to execute and then do it mindfully - without hurrying through the stroke and hoping it will fall in the right place. This is developing muscle control as opposed to muscle memory.

I believe muscle memory to be a Calligrapher's enemy (I know I'm going to get flak for this but hear me out first :-)

Muscle memory is very much susceptible to degradation when the conscious mind starts to engage. Have you noticed your handwriting degrade when writing something important or something you want to be really good? The reason is that muscle memory resides at a sub-conscious level where we learn to execute certain patterns without thinking. It is very powerful as one can train oneself to do amazing things with absolute precision (e.g. hitting a baseball accurately at over 100 mph). However, the problem is that as soon as the conscious part of the brain begins to engage (e.g. stressful situations in close matches), our ability to execute with muscle memory diminishes. As our conscious part of the brain isn't as well trained, the results suffer. (I realize there is more to the functioning of the brain than this over simplified explanation but this should suffice to illustrate my point.)

So - all this is to say that we just need to train the part of the brain we will be using in situations when we need it to perform best. One technique I learned from my teacher was to do my exercises in groups of 5, and then stop and analyse the form. Place a tick mark on the best ones and then try to replicate the best one another 5 times. Repeat until you can consistently get 4 out 5 to be perfect. This engages the conscious part of the brain and also keeps boredom at bay as you are always busy doing something. Practice sessions should not be longer than 15-20 minutes.

The pre-requisite for this is that you should know proper form and should be able to analyse your work accordingly. This is the 'study' part the masters talked about.

It doesn't work so well for sports but fortunately it does for Calligraphy :-)

Please note that there may be other ways to achieve the level of control needed. I am just sharing what has worked well for me and what I believe to be the reason for it.

Happy practising,

Salman
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Offline Sarah Beth Brown

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2015, 04:53:23 PM »
I also get that same shaky upstroke when I am working on something real-- I know for sure it's because I am worried that I'll smudge the ink or splatter, so I err on the side of too little pressure. I love salman's suggestion--  I often will write a word over and over when it's giving me trouble, but I never do it when I look at it and think, "perfect!" I'm definitely going to give recreating the best words/strokes/flourishes a try. thanks!

Sarah Beth Brown

Offline syed sha abulhassan Quadr

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2015, 05:05:12 PM »
Some times I practice, practice and practice and if the shaky lines remains I will then give my hand a day off.  Some times it works relaxing my hand a bit.  {another reason is their that every one ignores..........  &  that is empty tummy ;p}.
With regards
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Offline Blotbot

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2015, 05:33:58 PM »
It sound to me like the shake up-stoke is just a bit of nervous tension.  Have a glass or two of wine and see what happens.

Offline Starlee

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2015, 06:32:23 PM »
Ellen you made me laugh!! Thank you for that! But you are on to something...there is a saying floating around that is you want the creative juices to flow, have a drink, but if you want stamina, go for the java. :)

Salman - you nailed it on the head. I agree about the disadvantage of muscle memory...particularly when it comes to letterforms. It reminds me of the piano player who can play a piece while watching TV...sure it may be technically sound, but it lacks the heart that goes into the piece when played mindfully. When I'm writing, I try to constantly check my form as I go...that's part of the mindfulness. Then, scrupulously dissecting the word (for analyzing letterforms) or the sentence (for critiquing spacing and flourishes). However, if I am drilling, I am checking even more frequently. I don't practice words over and over. I will however, practice movements over and over. And this is where I think muscle memory becomes useful: pressure. I think instinctively knowing when to add or remove pressure helps free the mind to pay more attention to the forms of the letters.
Star

Offline Jamie

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2015, 07:00:52 PM »
I'd probably drink tea over wine to calm down, haha.

And I have to purposefully avoid caffeine when I do anything artistic because it'll actually give my hands bad shakes.

Offline SueL

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2015, 07:57:01 PM »
Thanks for sharing that, Salman.

Offline Tara H

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2015, 08:03:37 PM »
A similar question was asked in the I still love calligraphy Facebook group. Recommendations included keeping a light grip on your pen, touching the pen to the paper lightly, forming letters with your arm rather than your fingers, going slowly, and as you already know, warming up and practicing.

I've been trying to improve my calligraphy by slowing down. I find that I want to write with a dip pen just as I would with a pencil or ballpoint pen, and the results are a bit sloppy  :(

Offline lyndsaywrightdesign

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2015, 02:36:06 AM »
Drink only DECAF coffee before important work!   ;)

When I'm having trouble with wobbly lines and I have no choice but to get the work done at that time, and I can't wait a day or two, here's what I find works nearly immediately.  I practice writing in the same calligraphic style, but very, very tiny for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Then, when I jump back up to the size needed for the project, my movements are a lot smoother.  In my case, the shaky lines are almost always caused during finger movements rather than during hand, wrist, or whole arm movements.  Since writing very, very tiny is accomplished almost completely through finger movement, warming up my fingers this way works wonders for me...and very quickly!  It cures me of the shaky movements every time!   :)
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Offline Karina

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2015, 06:01:00 AM »
I've picked up some good advice from this thread... Im going to try out mindful short practices with coffee bans!

Your discussions made me think of something I read a while back "the instance the brush touches the paper reveals the state of mind of the calligrapher" i can't remember where I read it and only beginning to appreciate how profound it is!

If Im stressed, hungry, trying to impress someone when they come over, or having self-doubting thoughts for not having anything to show for it - my letters looks so awful! 


Offline Sarah Foutz

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2015, 10:07:24 AM »
Wow, so many great tips here that I'm going to have to try!!!

I work on muscle memory with the piano and sometimes find that when there's a concert or something where I have to perform, I make silly mistakes when I had played it perfectly hundreds of times before. Super frustrating. My teacher said that's because my muscles are remembering where to play, but since I'm tight or tense my fingers and shoulders might not have the same reach. So she recommended before any performance to do breathing exercises and relax.

It really seems to help and the same goes for calligraphy. It's all a mind game. If you've done it before, you can do it again!!!

Remembering you're awesome also helps. :)
Sarah Pearl Foutz
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Offline mary ellen

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Re: How to reduce or eliminate shaky hand?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2015, 11:29:13 AM »
I know...the answer must be practice practice and practice. But do you have any specific drill to reduce shaky hand? I find that writing in good posture and comfortable arm position might help. And how I hate when I am doing a piece for a gift, I am sooo nervous and made silly wobbly lines. But when I am on a casually practice, my upstroke is perfect (OK, not perfect, neaaarly perfect). Gah!! Do you think writing faster will make it better? Because I see so many people could write in a snail tempo, but amazingly steady. Hm...?!

sometimes I try and trick myself and think "this is just for practice"!  sounds silly but often times it works.  I still get nervous at times and it shows.  I always say
whatever you're feeling flows from your pen. 
classical music, yoga breathing and sometimes only a glass of wine helps!  it will get better, with practice comes confidence and THAT is what you will see on paper.