Computers have a unique way of making us writers a bit mentally lazy — indulging in a stream of consciousness writing. One doesn’t take the extra few minutes to think about what one is going to write or think about the missing pieces and how they all fit together It is, perhaps, because, we can cut, paste and modify with relative ease. We are constantly in “draft” mode and any addition and subtraction of words is nothing more than a mere act of readjustment.
In comparison, writing with a fountain pen brings a different kind of rigor — forcing you to slow down, think, visualize and compose the story before committing it to paper. I still am trying to get comfortable with the idea of writing with ink on paper. Even in early going, I find myself becoming measured and careful about what I want to say. Cutting and pasting, isn’t that easy. Every mistake, often results in a new draft which in turn forces me to self edit. Of course, with that comes tired hands, or as some would say, the gratification of physical exhaustion.
To be clear, I am not trying to say that one method of writing — on computers or on a piece of paper —is better than the other. After all, I might draft on a piece of paper, but in the end my medium of publishing still is the Internet. And for that I do need a computer.
18 thoughts on “On writing with fountain pens”
Hi Om…Its so interesting to see I have someone who does this as well. I love the act of writing so much that without I often feel I am cheating on my stories.
🙂 It is good to commit words to paper. Something quite gratifying about it.
Especially for the recipient, rediscovered years later. Tip: Make it legible.
Easier said than done Norton 🙂
Good point. Writing with pens takes up more space though. Oh well. 🙂
I agree. Nothing wrong with more space 😉
In the days before the Internet I did quite a bit of pen on paper writing. I still try and get in as much as I can, but the convenience of the computer/mobile device….well you know how it goes. I love to free-write – my fingers fly – any and everything could end up on the page. I also find my Inner Censor is quieter when I use paper & pen.
My handwriting was never good and is now terrible from lack of practice. I do a lot of my work with good pencils on artists’s sketchpads for the feeling. Freeform sketching is very important to my thought process and I have yet to find a computer input device that works as well.
Also I have a hard time reasoning with whiteboards – the “feel” is wrong and the smell bothers me. I use a high quality slate board with good chalk. It is very difficult to find either these days
I think artists sketchpads and pencils evoke the same feeling as writing with a piece of paper. It would be good to try and do that when hanging out together. 😉
I discovered fountain pens and a renewed passion for the act of writing a little over a year ago and things haven’t been the same. There is nothing more rewarding than taking a quality fountain pen – Nakaya, Pelikan, Sailor, TSWBI, and putting your thoughts down on paper. For my graduate studies it has completely changed the quality of my writing and how I write. Give it a try sometime!!
I’d just like to give you a suggestion: I have been using fountain pens for about four years now. The crucial thing about really enjoying riding with fountain pens, is having fantastic paper. Paper which is formulated for using writing instruments. Clairefontaine and Rhodia are great pads and paper. You won’t go back. You’ll find Moleskine to be inferior. They are vastly hip and all that, but the paper sucks.
Om – I’m a business news radio reporter. When I edit the script – by hand – just before airtime, the copy and words are always better. I thought it was neurological somehow between mind and hand; it is, but because it’s slower. That’s a much simpler explanation. Thanks, Joe Connolly WCBS Newsradio
don’t try if you are left handed… fountain pens hate lefties.
I am told that is a huge problem but if you get the right kind of nib it can be taken care of 🙂
I’m freakishly specific about pens and paper, there is something about the feel of the right pen on paper with just the right texture… it makes writing a pleasurable exercise. The 2 pens that go with me everywhere are my Antoni Gaudi-inspired Acme Studio rollerball and a sterling silver Dunhill that is the very first gift my wife gave me when we first met. Every important doc in my life for the last 13 years has been signed by the Dunhill while I would feel absolutely lost in my day to day work without the Acme, it is literally the perfect pen in weight, balance, and writing feel.
The Acme is a joy to write with and for as elegant as my pens are, my notepad is diametrically opposed in terms of it’s ordinariness. National Brand lab books, quad ruled, green cover, 10×7″ in size… the stitched binding works for us lefties, it’s the perfect size for note taking and the hard cover makes it pretty damn durable, I go through one about every 3 months.
The trick for left handed writers is to use quick drying ink such as Private Reserve Midnight Blues so as to not smear the ink. And as another reply mentioned a particular nib, for the feel of the pen on paper – I believe an oblique nib? I’m not a lefty so I don’t know first hand, but yes, fountain pens are not generally lefty friendly.
Write on. #2 pencils still have a soft spot, especially for poetry. Sharpies for rants require and facilitate markups that make their own statements.
There is a sense of care when you write someone a hand written letter, they tend to keep them. When was the last time you printed out and keep an email.
Comments are closed.