Lesson 1: The Very Basic

Lesson 1: The Very Basic

The correct posture

  • Sit straight and tall. It is funny I say this because when no one is looking or checking, I do cheat and slouch and slant in every possible directions. Don’t be like Cat. 😉
  • Shoulders should be relaxed. Always stop and ask yourself if your shoulders are tense. They usually are 😛
  • You eyes are usually about 25-30 cm away from your book. Again, this will vary depending on your table and chair, etc. 
  • Use the left hand to secure your book and write with your right hand. Vice versa if you are a left-handed writer
  • Your legs should be relaxed and your feet to the ground. Again, this will vary with your table and chair and your height etc. The idea is to be grounded and relaxed
  • These rules are too rigid! I don’t like them either but I do make an effort to try. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Everything will slowly come together

How to place your book

  • Tilt your book a little to the left (about 15 degrees give or take)  if you are a right handed writer and vice versa

How to hold your pen

  • Use your thumb, index and middle finger to secure. Your 3rd finger supports the base of the pen, 2nd finger over the top of the pen, and thumb to the side. You know, how you were taught to hold a pen at school. I deferred from this  and hold it like I was going to jab stuff. Do not copy me as I had no good results from it. Yes, I gave in and did it the right way 😛
  • See this site for reference. Why recreate what someone else also did such a good job at? 🙂 Here’s another.
  • If you hear scratchy sounds, you’re ripping through the paper, or the ink does not seem to come out when you use it but it does when someone else does it (lol) then you are holding it wrong. Rotate the pen, adjust how you hold it. When I held the pen as a stabbing tool, I was constantly, destroying the nib, paper and my sanity.
  • If you just got your very first pen be patient. It takes time to get it started. The ink needs to flow, the nib needs to open up, keep “starting” it like you would for a lousy car. The ink WILL come out

Lets get started!

  • My lessons will be based on several books or resources. This one is from the Nguyen Duong Anh, Luyen Chu Dep, Kieu Viet Dung (vertical style writing) 
  • Guess what? An awesome youtuber made a video of this lesson. Follow along! Honestly, you don’t really need to know what he is saying. Just watch LOL
  • The focus of the lesson is on how to write light and dark pressures, thick and thin strokes
  • I like how he turned his book sideways. At first I giggled at how strange he was then I realized what a genius he really was. When you turn your book sideways and practice, you prevent yourself from bumping into the center of the book. It is a very liberating way to practice your writing! Genius, I tell you
  • I got my grided book from master Anh Duong. Again, facebook her for products. You can also get Clairefontaine notebooks from Amazon or other online stores. I got most of mine from my cousin who bought it from Vietnam and from master Anh Duong. She gifted them to me when I bought a lot of her products. 
    • Surprise! You can get all the calligraphy papers you want as long as you have paper and a printer. This site is a life saver!


Write from 1-3 pages a day. This is one of the most important lesson. If you mess this up you will struggle later on! Don’t practice too hard or your hand will hurt. Honestly, I just write 1 page a day.

  1. Notice the first line I just did an upward thin stroke followed by a thicker, dominant stroke. If you watch his video, you will see that he rotated his nib slightly so that the nib points to the left (or right if you are left handed) to do the upward stroke. When he pulled it down he aligned the nib towards the north direction. This is the “sweet spot” allowing the nib to flex and release more ink. These thin and thick strokes are based on your pen’s potential. So remember to buy the right pen or you can do this for years and never get that look! 
  2. I made each exercise different so that I don’t feel tortured or bored while doing it. Write slowly, with intention, and care. The 2nd exercise looks like the letter N. It is basically an up, down, up and down motion. Exercise 1 but double it. Your breathing is also important. I like to take in a breath then exhale as I write. This creates a more steady stroke
  3. This is the last exercise of the set. You have 4 up strokes and 4 down strokes. It looks like the letter m with an additional up and down stroke
  4. Do not underestimate this set of exercises because most letters are made of these fundamental strokes

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