Editing on a computer saves an incredible amount of time, but I’ve found that writing a first draft can result in less than stellar writing on the computer. It works for essays, for example, but not for screenplays. I write my journal in a college-ruled notebook with pen. When I need to work something out on paper, I’ve found that using a pen rather than a computer and monitor works best. Why? And what kind of pen? Does it matter?
First of all, yes, what kind of pen does matter to me. The color of the ink matters to me. How the pen feels in my hand matters, as does the smoothness of the flow of ink onto the paper. I used to have a cheap fountain pen that my brother gave to me when I was in high school. I loved that pen. I used it for years, until the nib no longer worked. So, I went in search of a replacement. Fountain pens are hard to find nowadays. I wanted one just like my old one, and I didn’t want to pay more than, say, $5 for it. Ha! The cheapest fountain pens I could find were in the $15-$20 range. In a fit of frustration, I bought two and stocked up on ink cartridges. I tried to write with these pens but it just wasn’t the same. One was two heavy, one was too fat. Then they both stopped working — the ink stopped flowing smoothly and evenly. Today, they lay in my desk somewhere, neglected and probably bone dry.
After the fountain pen fiasco, I began experimenting with gel ink pens. I used to love the Pentel Rolling Writer pens, and they came in a wonderful variety of colors, including purple and green, my two favorite colors. But then Pentel stopped making them and their ballpoint pens just do not cut it. They feel clunky and too big in my hand. The flow of ink tends to be choppy and reluctant. I want a pen whose ink flows with my thoughts and my hand across the paper. Smooth and abundant, rich dark color, and if it has an ink scent, so much the better.
Currently, my favorite ballpoint is a Papermate Eagle stick pen, medium point, in a vibrant sky blue. Other ballpoints that I use and like include Bic round sticks, Papermate Flexgrip Ultra, Papermate Flexgrip Elite, Papermate Pro-Fit and Papermate ComfortMate Grip, all medium points, in blue, black, green, red and purple. For gel ink pens, I’m still experimenting a lot, but I’ve enjoyed Pentel’s EnerGel medium point in purple and black, Uniball Signo in blue and black, and Bic gel ink in blue. And of course, Flair pens in LOTS of colors.
Color can reflect mood, in my journal for example, or serious business when I use blue or black. For me, black is the most dramatic color. I love black gel ink pens. I use purple and green pens quite a lot, and tend to reserve red pens for financial or health matters. The feel of the pen in my hand is important — how heavy it is, how easy to grip, how comfortable. I tend to prefer small, light pens with comfort grips of some sort because I write by pen a lot.
My handwriting has evolved over time. If I look at my journals from high school, my handwriting tends toward small and slanted one way on one day, another the next day. After college, I attended business school and learned shorthand which radically changed my regular handwriting. Now it tends toward a mix of cursive and printing rather than all cursive, and not very consistent. My signature has remained remarkably similar, however.
When do I prefer to use a pen for my writing instead of the computer? First, whenever I need to slow down my thinking to work something out. I usually write the first draft of screenplays using pen and paper. The first drafts of advertising copy, business letters, or anything else that requires slow and deep thought. Handwriting tends to slow down the brain, allows the brain to mull over the words as they appear on the paper. I think love letters should always be handwritten. I write my journal by hand instead of on the computer in order to be reflective, to really examine my day or whatever problem I’m working through.
Pens are as much a shopping weakness as books, CDs and DVDs for me. Whenever I need office supplies and pens are on my list, I need to give myself a maximum number that I can afford to buy that day and stick to it or I’d go way over budget. I love to have boxes and boxes of pens in my closet, lots of different kinds, so I can pick and choose like crayons in a box for drawing a picture. My pens are drawing pictures, but in words.
So far, I’ve been heartened that office supply stores, Target, etc. still sell all kinds of pens in spite of the popularity of computers of all kinds. My love for pens can endure for many more years…..