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How to: Write on paper at the speed of light

I am sure you will agree with me when I say:

Given the fact that you have to write as much as possible in almost no time, taking notes and especially exams during law school, is stressful and exhausting.

Or, is it?

Well, it turns out that improving the speed of your writing may not be as hard as you’d have thought.

All you have do is optimize your technique and use a pen that allows you to write faster.

In this article, I’m going to show you exactly how I managed to improve on this matter.

If you want to know more, all you have to do is read on…

I. Using a fast pen

The straightforward way to improve your writing speed is to replace your writing tool.

As students, we recognize the significance of our pens in our exam days more than we have ever done!

Don’t we?

Exam time is so critical that we can not take the risk to choose even a wrong pen for writing.

If you’re using a ballpoint pen or gel pen, consider changing to a rollerball pen or fountain pen. Here’s why:

  • Tip Friction & Pressure

Several 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 pressure 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 proper form, increased writing speeds, and better technique.

Generally, pens with wider barrels (i.e. thicker) with full 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 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.

Ballpoint

Gel

Rollerball

Fountain

Speed

Slow

Speed

Medium

Speed

Fast

Speed

Fastest

Friction

Most

Friction

Medium

Friction

Less

Friction

Least

Capacity

Most

Capacity

Medium

Capacity

Less

Capacity

Least

Price

Cheapest

Price

Medium

Price

Expensive

Price

Most Expensive

Difficulty

Easiest

Difficulty

Medium

Difficulty

Hard

Difficulty

Hardest

Smudge

Least

Smudge

Medium

Smudge

More

Smudge

Most

Ballpoint pens are the cheapest and easiest to use (no smudge), but they fail in the most important metric: speed.

Since fountain and rollerball pens demand so little downward pressure for the ink to pass, they allow you to write much faster.

They also need 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 a pen that writes quickly and well, these are it.
  • Fountain – Pilot Varsity Disposable Fountain Pens are unquestionably 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 works better than pencil erasers!
  • For Lefties – The best all-around smooth writing, quick-dry ink pen is the Uni-ball Jetstream Quick Dry Pens.
  • Mechanical Pencil – The best overall mechanical pencil is, without a doubt, the Uni-ball KuruToga Rotating Mechanical Pencil. The advantage of this mechanical pencil is that it twists the lead slightly every time you lift the tip off the paper. In this way, it maintains the tip evenly sharp at all times, prevents uneven stroke widths and reduces tip breakage.

II. Technique

Loosen Your Grip

Cheap, thin pens force your fingers to squeeze around the small barrel, producing unnecessary pressure 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 correctly, reducing the amount of tension you apply to write.

It can feel awkward at first, but after adapting to the thicker barrel of a pen with a proper thickness, you will quickly realize the substantially reduced muscle strain.

Write Smaller

The smaller a letter is, the less your pencil has to travel to finish it.

By minimizing the size of your letters, you can increase your writing speed.

Though, learning this is quite time-consuming and can actually have an adverse effect if you write too small.

I wouldn’t recommend drastically reducing your letter size, but a 10 – 15% decrease for most people should improve your writing speed without deteriorating 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 movements difficult.

To get throughout this problem, try writing taller, skinnier letters.

This diminishes 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 only on your wrist to write, allow your forearm to guide your hand across the paper.

This will reduce the strain on your wrist, enabling you to write more conveniently and for longer periods of time.

Sit Properly

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.

III. Engage Your Other Arm

If you aren’t already utilizing your other hand for secondary tasks, you should.

Here is a list of things your other hand can take care of, saving time for your dominant hand to do what it does best: write.

  • Use the Highlighter
  • Erase
  • Flip pages
  • Control the calculator
  • Control the mouse

f 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 quickly switch between hands when one gets tired.

Conclusion

I wish I could tell you that if you picked a few of the key elements above, you’d write at the speed of light. But the reality is, you won’t.

It’s a total package type of thing, and you need to work on all of the elements above. Sure, implementing a few of them is better than implementing none, but the goal is to make you a speed writing specialist so that you can nail your notes and exams in no time.

About the author

    Dan Cristian

    Law student with a passion for design, business, tech, and online. I am sick and tired of the old fashion learning methods; that is why I use my free time to help build a community of law students that can share their tips and tricks.