When trouble comes along, call in the Martians.
Martians are more fun than line after line of pattern
exercises. They serve the same purpose, and anybody can make
You start with two circles for the eyes, and a circle
for the mouth. One more circle around them makes a head.
(Remember to start the circles at the top, and make the left
The eyes give the face an expression. Theyre
easier than you think. (The three on the right are the same
as the three on the left, turned upside-down.)
Find your level
How can you mend an uneven tilt and a wavy baseline? First,
find what you CAN do, and
learn to do it well. Then tackle more demanding stuff. This
may sound self-evident. But to a discouraged beginner it
isnt. It is a lifeline.
Start from a firm foundation. Are your zigzags good
and even? Then try letters. And trace them before you write
them. Paper with lines may not be enough. Use squared paper
instead as long as you like.
If your own zigzags are not even, despite all your
efforts, trace zigzags. Connect dots. Does your hand obey
you? Practise until your pen finds its target. (Never mind
what the line looks like. That comes later.)
Think of hand control exercises as a staircase. If
theyre too hard, you can go down a step and practise
something easier. When youre ready, you can go up a
step. Just take one step at a time. That will take you all
the way to the top.
An oval head with big eyes is a good start. Give
it a crescent of a grin.
Use a zigzag to make sharp teeth, and put black
dots in the eyes.
Add a collar and long ears, and youve got
Even Martians need discipline. The points of the
teeth should go all the way to the lips, but not beyond
them. The collar should touch the jawline, but not go across
Improve your aim
Sometimes, your hand may go in its own direction when you
want it to go somewhere else. This is not just a
beginners problem. Most people could do with better
control of their hands. Exercises help. Slowing down is
useful. And where you look can also make a difference.
Dont look at the pen. Look at the point where
its going. (When you try to catch a ball thats
flying through the air, you dont look at your hands.
You keep your eyes on the ball.) Let the pen in your hand
find its own way. Try this a few times, and youll see
what I mean.
If your writing is uneven, trace a line of the model text a
few times before you try writing it. Do it much slower than
you would write.
If your writing has an uneven slant, trace zigzags.
If zigzags are too difficult, draw a few dozen Martians.
Then go back to zigzags. Theyll probably be easier
then before. (Zigzags are easier on lined paper than blank,
and even easier on squared paper.)
If even zigzags and Martians are too hard, trace your
Make a squiggle with your own hand, and trace it
carefully several times. Then draw another, and trace that
for a while. In time, this will be too easy for you to
continue. Then its time for zigzags and for writing.
And whenever your hand wants to go its own way, you know how
you can take control again.