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Best way to learn how to write?

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I am fluent speaker of Vietnamese and I want to learn Chinese; however, at present I am not able to attend any formal classes or buy any expensive books to learn the language. However, I'm not that concerned at this point, since my motivation to learn Chinese is simply out of a liking (I would not say love - yet) of the language and not out of necessity for business, etc. As of now, I'm mainly interested in learning how to write Chinese characters in order to convert some of my letters/poems, etc from Vietnamese to Chu Nom just for fun.

Having no formal lessons, as of now I just look at the characters in my Han-Viet or Chu Nom dictionary and try to copy them with pencil and paper (I am somewhat familiar with the basic strokes and stroke order, etc) but my characters often look very messy compared to the dictionaries! is there any way to improve your handwriting in Chinese? Any methods that I should learn? Any tips for beginners?

Thank you!!!

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Hello, it has to be said that there is no substitute for practice, practice, practice :rolleyes: Get some squared paper, a good pen and a character list (not too long 10-15 characters) and practice. Don't overdo it though, little and often. take breaks and try to write naturally.

Following the correct stroke order helps to make your writing look neat and clear.

When you finish each character (about 10 times each character) don't put them away, when you start the next list add one or two of the old list in every so often just to keep them fresh.

I also copy out my lesson texts to get more variety and the feeling of writing a letter or story.

There is lots of online stuff to help. Attached is a pdf of a character practice sheet I made. You are very welcome to print these out and use them :) Good luck, Shelley


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Thank you for those practice sheet - I will start doing this as soon as I print those out!

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"Practice, practice, practice?" It's important to think about what you're practicing. If you use yourself as a reference and write something 100 times, that's 100 times of your handwriting, and if your handwriting sucks, that's just making habits more difficult to break.

How does one improve one's handwriting? Practice is indeed a part of it, but you can't just practice whatever you can practice. That wastes time. So I'll tell you.

You need to have a comfortable grip. Something like this would do nicely.

You must start with 楷書. Do not practice 明體 or 黑體 or whatever exclusively typeface style.

The best 楷書 is that of 歐陽詢, 顏真卿, and 柳公權. Writings I recommend are 九成宮醴泉銘, 玄米他被, 多寶塔碑, 神策軍碑, etc. You can copy their writing (at a reduced size, and within the practical stroke shape possibilities of your writing instrument) with a pencil. I find that pencils often work better than pens. Grids of blank squares are highly recommended.

Read this and this about stroke order.

Prioritize common characters and/or characters with few strokes. After you can write them well, move on to less common characters.

If you ever want to learn how to write with a brush, I recommend getting right into it, as being able to write well with a brush pretty much guarantees that you can automatically write well with a pencil.

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