Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Pens

Even in this day of computers, pens are still a vital tool for writers, I guess I'm not alone in writing rough notes by hand and in fact I work up my poems to quite a final stage by hand, before committing them to the screen.

I like the feel and weight of a good solid pen, it feels more serious somehow, and perhaps helps me to take my writing more seriously. Also for environmental reasons, I like a pen that is built to last, rather than one that is going to end up in the trash. Fountain pens are I suppose the best as in the usual course of events nothing gets thrown away, you just fill the pen with ink and carry on. However for some reason, I've never quite got into fountain pens and I find them liable to ink blots and other untidiness (yes, i know, my fault rahter than the pen's!). My three favourite pens all take some form of refill, but the pens themselves have lasted years and will last many more.

Even throwaway pens though these days are available in more environmentally friendly models. I've seen pens where the pen itself is made from recycled paper or plastic, which is a good idea, if you like to have a pen that you're not going to get upset over if you lose it....


Pens for Weekend Wordsmith

16 comments:

Dave King said...

I have also found that the pen or pencil has a lot to be said for it when it comes to drawing. Some years ago I developed an annoying tremor in the arms and all but gave up drawing and painting by traditional methods in favour of the mouse and the graphics tablet. Now I am trying to find ways of combining tradition with cutting edge - hence my Digital Doodles posts. The same issues apply to writing. A fountain pen suits me more than a ball point - more resistance = more control. During the development of a piece of writing, though, there are times when the pen wins and times for the use of the keyboard.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting point Juliet. Some time ago i did a blog on how various writers wrote their text. Some wrote in pencil in exercise books, others with pen and ink. I have a friend who always writes in green ink and cannot bear to do any other. I suppose it is a bit like cars - if you have a superlative pen you FEEL GOOD it is supposed to be like that if you are driving a Rolls Royce. In a way I am sorry that proper pen and ink are dying out - but, like you, I have never really got to grips with the fountian pen. For me anything - old pencil stub, throw-away biro - is better than committing a rough draft to the computer keyboard.

Paul said...

That is all true and I find that writing by hand changes the rhythm of the words somehow. I prefer it to typing for certain types of writing. (And congratulations on a Scottish poet winning the T S Eliot prize.)

Spot said...

Great comment stream!

A pen and tiny notebook can go mountain climbing without weighing you down with excess baggage. I have a very small refillable pocket pen that I have been using for years that goes pretty much everywhere with me. It's not great for extended writing but it's about the only pen I've found that doesn't stab where it hurts when you start climbing - a stub of a pencil often does!

I've always thought that a pen and notebook is best, but having done a lot more writing on screen since I've had the blog, I do sometimes surprise myself and just open up a new page and start to write with no plan in mind. I'm sure there's a slightly different voice that comes through, but I'm getting less self conscious about it.

Rabbits' Guy said...

I remember taking mechanical drawing classes in school and the great pleasure from the proper pencil and pen ... All that is missed today when those engineering drawings are done by computer software! I still enjoy having a nice sharp 2 1/2 pencil, usually a Ticonderoga!, around ...

FARfetched said...

I bought a pocket-side Moleskine with some of my Christmas money. I still wonder on occasion why I spent $10 on a notebook, but it's so nicely crafted, with acid-free paper, that mostly I just keep it with me.

Sometimes, I've learned, you need to match the pen with the paper. Roller pens work fine on cheap notebook paper, but bleed heavily on the Moleskine. I like mechanical pencils for the longevity and feel on (most) paper, but I tend to lose them so I stick with cheaper versions.

Paper or screen? For me, it depends on the kind of writing. I like to draft fiction longhand, and not-fiction on a keyboard, but I'll switch back and forth depending on whim and what's at hand.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

I used refill fountain pens for years. Now I am infatuated with my mechanical pencil (I think you would call it a Propeller pencil). I have two and can't do a thing without it.....

Javier said...

well yes, it's always good to have a good old pen with which to write... though I must admit that a word processor makes the job a lot easier...

what I really find myself uncomfortable with is READING from screens... I just hope books will always be with us...

Nice blog, happy 2009!

Cheers!

Eric said...

Zebra F.301 Compact ball point pen. But I am never quite sure of a poem until I type it in so I can get a good sense of line lengths etc.

abz said...

One of my friends (a fellow writer) found my "notebook" the other day. It's full of doodles, scratch outs and rewrites. He laughed and said "It's good to know someone still uses pen and paper"... I concur. I prefer mechanical pencil though. :)

holly said...

I don't know why I haven't thought about this more! So true...I guess I am just in the habit of taking the free ones from schools where I teach.
hmm...

Coastcard said...

When I'm out and about, I find a biro (which can be recycled later!) on a string attached to a notebook very helpful. I also try to use my dictaphone, and transcribe straight on to the screen - which bypasses the need for paper.

P.S. I wonder whether you or Mistlethrush might help with the ID of a bird on my blog (14 Jan). My friend would love to know! Thank you.

utopianfragments said...

works best for me too. no keyboard can replace the feeling of pen and paper, and like said before me. you can carry them everywhere. i cannot leave the house without them.
i like the tiny pen, mabye 0.4 or 0.3 never really thought about them beeing thrown. good point here.
dhyan

Coastcard said...

THANK YOU very much for the bird ID on my blog. Very much appreciated. Now to learn about the redwing!

Mistlethrush said...

I'm a pencil lady - one with an eraser on the end.

If I think it's going to be a short poem I write on each line leaving a wide margin around it. If it's prose I write on alternate lines and always manage to fill them with alterations!

I find it easier to write in fine pencil lines - maybe because it reminds me these are only first drafts...

Rethabile said...

I like the feel of a heavy pen in the hand, too. I use pens just as much as a machine. The first few words usually get jotted down by pen on a newspaper in the bus or in the metro.

I then type the protopoem, and immediately print it to continue work by hand, adding lines in between and changing some, then type it, print it, and go at it again by hand.

I need the print out to see more clearly, and I need the pen to think more clearly.

Greetings from cold Paris