Sometimes, in this computer age, I feel I’ve lost touch with what it means to actually write. I mean to actually pick up a pen and a piece of paper and write something out longhand.
Granted, I’ve had problems with my writing in the past. My English teacher at school informed me in no uncertain terms that my handwriting was terrible and that I should do something about it. I took an evening class and learned to touch-type, a skill that has stood me in good stead ever since and one I can heartily recommend to anyone. However, it did nothing to improve my writing and you’ll find that “3 sides of A4” on a given subject needs a lot more words when hammered out on a typewriter than it does when written longhand in pen and ink.
There’s a part of me that objects to the computer, that rails against using it. This is despite my being an IT manager and website designer. Irony, huh? So I keep my to-do list in a notebook, or on index cards, or in a Filofax (see Monday’s post on the excellent DIYPlanner templates). I carry a notebook and pen with me at all times waiting for the moment when inspiration strikes. And when someone asks “do you have a pen?” I can always answer in the affirmative. When they see it’s a fountain pen, they’re usually either confused, intrigued or a little of both.
Unfortunately, I’m not satisfied with the humble Biro. No, if I’m going to have a pen it’s going to be a proper one. No rollerball for me, either. Fountain pen. Filled from a bottle of ink. And since I’m being honest, I have several, all filled with inks of different colours. There’s black for the day-to-day notes, red for annotating the notes, a lovely green-brown from Noodler’s (El Lawrence, to be precise) for further annotations if they’re needed or just general day-to-day writing.
Using these pens has connected me more to my writing than the keyboard ever could. There’s no “delete” key on a fountain pen. If you want to get rid of something, you cross it out and pretend it doesn’t exist. This has proved useful on a number of occasions as something I thought useless at the time has found a new lease of life elsewhere in the Ongoing Project – if I’d deleted it it would have been gone and forgotten. I can look back on a writing session and see stuff. Even if half of it is crossed out, scribbled over and consigned to the “Someday/Maybe” file.
I still have the occasional problem with little things like reading my own writing. Shopping lists are great for that, standing in the supermarket trying to work out why I was wanting to buy a bairn (that turned out to be “bacon”). And I have to resist the urge to obtain more pens than I really need (I think I’ve lost that battle already but I dabble in calligraphy as well, so all things find a use).
There is a wonderful feeling in sitting with a blank sheet of paper – rather than a blank screen – and beginning to write. Sure, word counts are a pain to keep up and there’s no spell-checker, but you don’t get Clippy trying to be helpful, there’s no Blue Screen of Death and a piece of paper can’t connect you to the Internet and distract you from what you were doing. You don’t need power, you don’t need batteries and you don’t need a WiFi connection.
Over to you…
Do you use pen and paper? For first drafts? Important notes? Writing long letters to family and friends?