Intro Series – Part 6: How to Practice the Palmer Method

The Intro Series

When you are done with the Intro Series…

Continue learning with the Palmer Method Study Plan.

Below is a very rough transcription of the video.

The Palmer Method, or any of the traditional American scripts that involve arm movement, require that you study two distinct, yet related disciplines: the development of muscular movement and the form of the letters. Of course, these two areas come together any time you write, but it’s important to recognize these two separate areas of study as you begin learning the Palmer Method.

Probably my biggest issue with The Palmer Method of Business Writing is that it does very little analysis or study of the letterforms outside of a movement context. Palmer was focused on the idea that students would learn the letterforms by practicing the movements. This is totally possible, but also seems incomplete to me, especially for those of us learning on our own with no instructor providing feedback on our work. It’s even harder to learn the letterforms if you haven’t spent time developing your perceptive abilities through drawing or other artistic disciplines.

That is why I encourage students to spend time both developing movement and studying the letterforms. Palmer is going to give you plenty of drills and exercises that will develop movement, and you’ll want to linger on the early lessons until you start to feel comfortable controlling the pen with your arm, which will likely take months.

While you’re going through that process, I suggest you go off script and spend some of your practice time studying the letterforms. The most effective exercise I’ve used over the years is to slowly and carefully draw a letter with my fingers and a pencil. I’ll use an eraser and redraw the letter until I think I have it perfect. Then I’ll place my letter over Palmer’s copy and see how close it actually is and correct any mistakes.

As you go through this process, you begin to develop an accurate eye for the letterforms and you’ll start to see all of the repeating patterns through the alphabet. This will make your practice time developing muscular movement that much more effective as you will be able to evaluate your work at a much higher level.