I have studied Chinese since 2007 and have used a number of different ways to learn and remember how to write characters by hand (I have analysed them here). Some methods are fast and practical, but are poor for retaining characters. Other methods are time-consuming and require specific tools but result in better learning.
In my opinion, using Skritter combines the advantages of many of the other writing methods. It’s practical because I always have my phone with me, but it also results in good retention because I’m encouraged to actually write out the characters (compared to just reading them).
Writing characters in Skritter with a pen
Have you tried using Skritter with a pen? You can achieve this without buying an expensive writing tablet, just get a normal pen with an extra capacitative tip. I’ve been able to pick up several of these for free on conferences and exhibitions, but they aren’t expensive to buy if that’s more convenient.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking, here’s a picture of the pen I use. It’s a normal ball point pen with an added capacitative cap that works well on smart phones.
Even though I can’t know for sure what method you use to write characters in Skritter, I’m reasonably confident that a large majority just use their fingers to draw the characters on the screen (I tend to use my middle finger). This is the most convenient way and it works well.
Both fun and effective
However, I’ve recently started using the pen shown in the picture. It makes character writing feel completely different! It feels more authentic and much closer to writing with an actual pen on actual paper. Although I don’t think there is any research into this, I’m prepared to bet that using Skritter with a pen transfers better to the real world than writing with your finger does (although I doubt the difference is big).
Furthermore, writing like this is a welcome change for me. I tried using the pen during a slump and have since been writing a lot more characters than I usually do, not because it’s necessarily more effective, but because it’s more fun. Try it if you haven’t already!