It’s On The Wall: My Story on Micrographia

This is my first posting as a contributor for I have been blogging on Parkinson's disease (PD) for over 10 years and lecturing about it for many more. I hope that you will join me as I address my tips and tales related to living well with this most precarious of illnesses. If you have suggestions for issues or topics that you may want me to address in the future, please let me know, and if I can delve into your proposed suggestion, I will try to comment on it. I am a PD blogger who has lived many years with PD and have many insights into this illness. Along the way, I hope to help inform, educate, and entertain you. If you have feedback, feel free to provide input.

Keeping my handwriting legible

Micrographia or very small handwriting can be a precursory symptom of Parkinson's disease. Handwriting can get tiny and illegible. Those patients facing a severe tremor or dyskinesia may be dealing with other challenges to legible handwriting. At times, the tremor may interfere with a steady pen, but there may be times between tremors and dyskinesias where writing may not be an issue.

While micrographia may be a potential signal that your pen to paper relationship needs addressing, these tips may be worth looking into. I have had PD for over 30 years and found that I am still capable of keeping most of my writing recognizable and legible.

Here are some tips that may be of help:

  1. Don't Fear the Pen or Pencil!
    If your handwriting has been a challenge and you have avoided writing due to fear or frustration from lack of control, consider some of the following tips to see if they might make some improvements.
  2. The Time May Not Be Right---Now!
    If you find yourself dyskinetic (moving uncontrollably) while writing, take a break to relax and breathe and focus on the task at hand. To write larger, try writing the letters on the paper using the blunt end of your pen and just visualize and trace out a few letters, before putting ink onto paper. Exaggerate your motion and try keeping your letters evenly spaced.
  3. Become A Drawer!
    I try to draw, doodle, or write something every day - try it. The tactile feel of pen to paper feels good.
  4. Keep Within the Lines!
    I found the lined paper that teachers use to teach drawing letters in a dollar discount store. I've found that by using this tool with some practice, has greatly improved my handwriting prowess.
  5. Big Paper-Big Pen!
    Try using oversized pens on those really large pads to practice and get the feel of drawing your letters.
  6. Feed the Dragon!
    If you find yourself unable to write for some reason, you might explore voice to text like Dragon Naturally Speaking. Some apps may apply as well.

In this modern age of smartphones and keyboards, many of us lose or forego our ability to retain decent penmanship. To look at old documents, one can't but marvel at the beauty, care, and precision that was devoted to a crisp clean signature.

Beautiful handwriting was and remains to be a work of art. To lose one's ability to write large and legible is to lose part of one's identity. Our connection to the pen and paper is one that is close and personal. It is a relationship that we often take for granted and expect to retain for perpetuity.

Like nothing in PD, handwriting is no longer an automatic ability. Writing must constantly be practiced and re-enforced. It is necessary to remain mindful of doing your best.

I cannot and will not guarantee that these techniques will bring back your John Hancock, but I will tell you that you may get closer to seeing improved penmanship.

Good luck!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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