Sixty-five consecutive patients with writer's cramp were studied prospectively to evaluate clinical and demographic features, the number of writing hours per day at dystonia onset, and the existence of trigger events. Assessment of writing and drawing was done on a standardized test using categorical scales. The importance of subjective handicap and pain, of postural and action tremor, the abnormal features of hand grip and the occurrence of mirror dystonia (dystonia occurring in the dominant hand when writing with the other hand) were studied. Thirty-two patients had simple writer's cramp, whereas the others had complex writer's cramp with several activities other than writing involved. No significant differences were seen in age of onset, legibility, pain, and handicap in these two groups. Seven patients had a family history of focal dystonia and six of them had a complex form of writer's cramp. Mirror dystonia was seen in 29 patients and in some it appeared useful to distinguish dystonic movements from secondary compensatory strategies. © 2001 Movement Disorder Society.