Writing Chinese, vertically.

Chinese characters were traditionally set vertically, to be read from right to left. So one would read a Chinese book with vertical text from right to left. Like so:

People’s Republic of China switched to Western style horizontal writing in the 1950’s, and Simplified Chinese characters were adopted around that time, too. You can still see a lot of signs and book titles set vertically, or written in Traditional Chinese, in Mainland China. The reform was meant to promote literacy, and for a while there was talk of abolishing all characters and using only pinyin Romanization (eeek!). But with all the homonyms in Chinese, it would have been… Messy. Or hilarious .

Vertical writing is great if you're a lefty. I'm right-handed myself, and we were trained in calligraphy class to lift our wrist while we write, lest we smear the entire page.

This is what a typical character practice book would look like. Except we’d get 15–20 boxes for repetition. And then another blank workbook to continue the repetition. Ain’t nothing to it but muscle memory.

The strokes also need to happen in the correct order. Generally from top left to bottom right. Yes, while writing right to left. Lead stain on your hand during elementary school was a badge of hard work.

Oh, and the last paragraph of any essay should always end in a big aspirational speech. Such as “I wish to continue my reading of such magnificent materials and become a useful citizen to society.”

No biggie.