Welcome to Life & Style’s Quarantine Diaries! In this series, NBN writers share skills they’ve picked up since being stuck in quarantine.

Calligraphy is a skill I’ve wanted to learn for as long as I can remember. For years, I’ve stared longingly at my friends’ bullet journal spreads, wishing I could create something that’s as aesthetically pleasing and useful.

As an impatient perfectionist, every single time I’ve tried to learn calligraphy, I’ve gotten frustrated within the first 15 minutes. I’ve always had decent cursive from going to a French elementary school, but the casual and effortless style that bullet journalists employ has never come naturally.

Unlike my previous attempts, this time, I was determined. I told myself I’d be patient and roll with the mistakes. I wouldn’t get frustrated when my calligraphy inevitably looked ugly at the beginning.

My sister, who started learning calligraphy about a year ago and is basically a professional, made me an example alphabet I could use as a guide.

She has brush pens that make everything look better, but I knew I wasn’t going to have access to her materials long-term. So, I decided to use the much simpler tools at my disposal: markers.

Here were my first two attempts at copying her alphabet:

Photo courtesy of Jordan Hickey

So maybe not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but certainly nowhere near as satisfying to look at.

My game plan: practicing for 15-30 minutes every night, whatever that looked like. I quickly discovered, as I expected, that calligraphy is very much a game of repetition. There are no shortcuts – you just have to write the letters over and over again until the shape feels natural.

After six days of doing just that (and nearly giving up only twice!!), here’s how my calligraphy looked:

Photo courtesy of Jordan Hickey

It still needs a lot of work, but I think it’s an improvement from where I started. The looser and curvier style of calligraphy used by bullet journalists continues to evade my hand: The biggest piece of feedback my sister had for me was that my lines were too straight and my letters too “perfect.”

That being said, this is nowhere near the end of my calligraphy learning journey. It’s going to take a lot more time and patience, but by the end of quarantine, I might just become a calligraphy specialist.

If you’re looking for some bullet journal or calligraphy inspiration, I recommend checking out Amanda Rach Lee on Instagram or Youtube as well as this incredible watercolor bullet journal account.