• A Calligraphy Practice Reality Check

    If you want to improve your calligraphy, you need to hone in on your practice! In this article, we’ll discuss several ways to ensure success via good practice habits. You might be surprised by some of the tips, including don’t practice every single day!

    A Calligraphy Practice Reality Check | The Postman's Knock
    The biggest calligraphy practice reality check I have for you? It’s up to you to make your calligraphy creation fun!

    When you first set out to learn calligraphy, it’s difficult not to have some preconceived notions and expectations. Like with anything, if your expectations aren’t met, disappointment can set in and prevent you from making progress! In this article, my goal is to provide a “reality check”. We’ll go through seven important points to keep in mind as you set out to learn (and practice) your calligraphy! Remember them anytime you get frustrated, then carry on with your dip pen!

    1. You’re Never Going to Reach Perfection

    No matter how good you get, your calligraphy will never be absolutely perfect. There will always be a letter that should lean a bit more to the right, a stroke that should be thicker or thinner, or an iffy transition! Part of the point of your calligraphy practice is to learn to selectively ignore your inner critic.

    A Calligraphy Practice Reality Check | The Postman's Knock
    I could probably point out 10 imperfections in this envelope! But I don’t let that stop me from enjoying it. Take heart, too, that other people don’t notice your mistakes! The mailman complimented me on this very envelope (“Did you write this?! It’s beautiful!”)

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t learn from your mistakes; just don’t let them get in your way! Every time you practice calligraphy, try to see the bigger picture instead of honing in on little errors. Focusing on the positives of what you wrote will get you much farther than taking the negatives to heart!

    2. You Don’t Have to Practice Every Day

    Moderation leads to success with most undertakings, and calligraphy is no exception. If you resolve to practice calligraphy for hours every day, you’ll almost certainly burn out! (Of course, if you’re enjoying your practice so much that you want to do it every day, that’s a different story. But as soon as it stops being fun, slow down the pace!)

    The Nomad's Guide to Practicing Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock
    This is Ana practicing her calligraphy on an envelope! She took one of my workshops in June. Since then, she has practiced her calligraphy about twice per week.

    My advice? Incorporate calligraphy into your life in manageable doses. Try to create calligraphy 1-3 times per week, and make your practice time a special treat!

    3. A Guided Start is the Best Start

    When I started learning calligraphy in 2012, there weren’t many informational resources available. I had to figure out a lot of things for myself, like how to exert balanced pressure on both tines of the nib. That lack of information made it difficult to figure out how and what to practice! Not having structure also meant that I took a lot longer to build up my calligraphy skills!

    The TPK Beginner's Modern Calligraphy Online Course | The Postman's Knock
    The Beginner’s Modern Calligraphy Online Course is a fantastic comprehensive resource! I wish I would have had something like it when I was just starting out.

    Now, I realize that things would have been significantly easier with guidance! That’s why I’ve spent the last few years making worksheets, drills, and a comprehensive beginner’s calligraphy course. You’ll also find a vast amount of informational articles peppered throughout this website! I’d start with The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy, and follow the links in that post to go down the learning rabbit hole!

    4. Your Calligraphy Practice Material Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

    The word “practice” has a negative connotation for some people! When I hear “practice”, I am automatically taken back to second grade piano lessons (and a grouchy teacher). That’s why I try to make my calligraphy practice stimulating, challenging, and fun!

    Not Your Average Calligraphy Drills: Under the Sea Edition | The Postman's Knock

    Whether you’re making a “stinging jellyfish” from the Under the Sea Drills packet or creating a calligraphy medallion, practice should be pleasant! At the end of the day, the point of your calligraphy practice is to improve your ability to use the pen. There’s nothing that says your practice has to be tiresome!

    5. Projects Count as Practice

    It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that calligraphy practice only happens when you’re filling out a worksheet or writing letters on repeat! However, every time you pick up your pen, you’re practicing. I consider all of my projects to be excellent practice, and I learn something from everything I make!

    Workshop Place Cards
    These Janet Style place cards, created for my July workshops, provided me with valuable flourishing practice!

    6. Your Environment is Important

    Your practice environment is nearly as important as what you are working on! Try your best to make your calligraphy practice time a relaxing and indulgent part of your day. To achieve that, you’ll need surprisingly little. First, try putting on your favorite music or a great podcast. Next, make sure you have a clean, uncluttered surface to work on. Finally, keep a drink (and perhaps a few snacks!) nearby for sustenance.

    Lindsey Writing
    What you can’t see in this photo: chocolate chips and water to my right! I always write calligraphy while listening to a podcast … my current favorite is Crime Junkies.

    The more effort you put into ensuring that your environment is pleasant, the more you’ll enjoy the writing process! In turn, the more you enjoy the writing process, the more you’ll want to write.

    7. Your Practice Will Pay Off Quickly

    Improvement takes time, but you will notice that your calligraphy skills grow at an alarming rate! It’s amazing how much difference a day of practicing can make. If you are a person that finds motivation in progress (don’t we all?), then be sure to document your creations!

    This was my calligraphy in April of 2013.
    Dip Pen Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock
    Fast-forward three years to 2016, and the progress is obvious!

    You’ll be astounded at how fast you improve — but it might be difficult to notice if you don’t have a photo for comparison. I’m always shocked when I look at photos of my early creations!

    I hope that you found this article to be motivating and helpful, especially if you’re a calligraphy beginner. The biggest point I’m trying to make is that anyone can learn how to create calligraphy! It doesn’t matter how much or how little time you have, or how tolerant you are of tedious tasks! Bottom line: your calligraphy practice should be a fun and enjoyable thing, and it’s up to you to make sure you feel that way about it.

    If you have any questions or input, I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks so much for reading today’s post, and happy practicing!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock

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