My Road to Handlettering

I am not a patient person. And I am not an artistic person.

Yet, for some odd reason that seems to go against my entire personality, I’ve wanted to learn calligraphy for a really long time.

When I was in high school, I asked for a beginner’s workbook to calligraphy for a birthday or a Christmas. I flipped through it, got really excited to learn this skill… and then never used it. I probably got distracted by something and never came back to use the workbook.

But it was something that always stuck with me: the desire to learn calligraphy was important enough that I brought that workbook with me to college (because if I didn’t have the focus or time to dedicate time to it while I lived at home, I’d definitely have time once I started college).

That workbook followed me for the next 4 years as I moved upwards of 8 times and it’s finally settled into a home here in my newlywed apartment. But throughout all of that time of unpacking it, sitting it on a shelf, and then packing it up again 4 months later, I never used it.


Fast forward to now: I have 35 hours of an online training to do for my new job. I got hired by a non-profit group called Easter Seals to do in-home work with children with autism, and I’m working on becoming certified as a Registered Behavior Technician (hence the online training). But in order to be certified as an RBT, I have to take this training course, which means sitting at the computer and listening for 35 hours. I’ll probably blog about this job and what all it entails at some point in the future… but I digress.

So on Sunday night, I sat down and charted out a schedule to knock out all 35 hours over the course of 5 days and set a whole bunch of goals for things I was also going to accomplish this week and just really got my crap together. Organization is something I want to improve on, and I felt really motivated.


And I realized: if I’m just sitting listening, there’s no reason my hands can’t be moving at the same time. Why not start now?


I texted my incredible sister-in-law who is super talented with handlettering to get some tips from her, and she sent me some pictures to reference and some tips on how to start. Then I turned to the wonders of Pinterest for inspiration and found some pins I liked… and then I just did it.

I spent 8 hours on Monday and about 3 1/2 hours on Tuesday just practicing hand lettering.

I didn’t get any formal tools like brushes or nibs, but I just used ball point pens and a couple of markers and filled up a couple of pages in a notebook while I listened.

It was intense but, I think it went decently. I’m nowhere near ready to open up my own Etsy account or anything, but just the self-discipline to sit down and practice this skill that I’ve wanted to learn for YEARS… it felt really, really good.

I felt accomplished. I felt organized. I felt like I was being proactive and taking control of my life. After spending years in school being told what to read, what to do, and what to produce, it’s been hard for me to take back control of what I want to do for myself.


So I learned the very bare basics of hand lettering. I’m not going to open up a whole Instagram account to celebrate this new hobby, but I created a Pinterest board specifically for it. Baby steps, right?

I know I’m not very good–I’m pretty self-aware. I’m not posting pictures for bragging purposes, but for accountability. I’m stinkin’ proud of me for learning something semi-artsy that I’ve always wanted to do but have been pretty intimidated to do. Shoutout to Pinterest to helping me find most of the quotes I doodled.

Unrelated to hand lettering, but spending a week just on the computer listening to lectures has left very little time for Netflix. Maybe it’s from Netflix withdrawals, but I had a really stressful dream last night that Ron Swanson appeared after a fight with my boss and he gave me a big long lecture on my personality flaws and the many ways that I need to grow as a person. It was equal parts humbling and empowering.

Maybe in addition to trying to live intentionally, I also need to focus on living to make Ron Swanson proud of me.


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