Are there any resources / how-to sources about how to write Chinese characters faster than normal while still being readable? It took me forever to take note while in class.
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Learn the simplified characters. That's what they're there for.
IMHO, they aren't easier to learn. But they ARE easier to write.
In restaurants (茶餐廳) in Hong Kong, the "waiters" also face this problem because writing in a formal and clear way takes too much time. They developed methods so that they can take orders faster: