Day 4… of Nablopomo, and I’m going to use the prompt for today about writing instruments and what I like to use. This seems to be a personal post so I’m putting it here in my more personal blog. I’m writing every day this month, as per National Blog Posting Month guidelines, in order to increase my output, improve my technique, and just generally become a better blogger. So the prompt is:
When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?
I wrote a tiny bit about this a few days ago on another of my blogs, coincidentally and mentioned that I prefer to use a .07 lead mechanical pencil when using a pencil, and that I prefer an ultra fine point archival ink when I chose to use a pen. When I want to write with a keyboard I also have to choose between my desktop computer, my laptop, my iPad 2, and my smart phone.
So how do I choose between the tools I have available to me when I want to put words to the page? Well, the first consideration I evaluate in my choice of writing utensil is the type of writing I want to do. Am I writing a grocery list, letter, journal entry, blog post, short or long manuscript, or a poem? This will influence the type of tool I choose to use. Intensely personal recollections, musings and such are likely to be written by hand with a pencil or high quality pen.
Lead pencils and a Rapidograph®-like pen were the tools of the trade I was instructed to use when making field notes / behavioral observations as an undergrad and in graduate school. I also always used a high rag or cotton content paper on which to take notes. This practice has stayed with me over the years to a great extent, although I love all sorts of paper, notebooks, notepads, and loose leaf papers so what I write on is not always bond paper. I try to use only ink that will not bleed, is permanent, and pencils as they also have these characteristics.
I usually write on a keyboard of some sort. I purchased my first electric typewriter when I was 16 in 1973. I loved to see my work in typed print – especially my poetry – and the “translation” of thought into words seemed to flow more smoothly and rapidly when I used the direct brain to fingertip neural/physical actions involved in typing. Writing script by hand takes much, much longer for me and seems more likely to capture stream of conscience musings. Using a keyboard seems to create a copy with more precise language usage that is closer to penultimate or final copy.
Another factor is where the writing will be done. At home, sitting, reclining, while watching T.V., in my office, at my desk, on a plane or train, in an automobile, at a coffee shop, at a conference, at a press conference all place different limiting and enabling constraints on which technology I use.
I nearly at all times have a small notebook and my phone with me when I carry a shoulder bag. Theoretically, I could use either one of these for note taking, but I like to write notes by hand. Phone key pads, even on the iPhone, are just too small. I do not like to send text messages for this reason. I guess I have old, fat fingers.
I like to write neatly if I am writing by hand and using a mechanical pencil allows me to write in a fairly uniform manner because the lead is always the same diameter and this size of mechanical pencil creates a thin line that for some reason helps me write in a neat small script. Archival quality ink pens, either felt tip or roller ball, with an ultra fine nib also seem to promote better handwriting for me than a ball point. I seem to produce larger and more sloppy script when I write with a ballpoint pen or wooden pencil.
I do my best blogging on a laptop when sitting in a comfy chair or even in bed with the TV on at night. I tend to use my iPad for social media communication, for texting and posting short social media entries. My desktop computer with the large screen in my office is used for graphics, web design layout, and for some reason which I have not figured out entirely, for manuscript or book length projects.
I love paper, pens, notebooks, and in fact all writing tools and technologies, but more than these things, and far beyond the simple preference expressed in answer to the question, “Pen or computer?” are my love of writing and words, my graphophilia and logophilia. And almost as intense as these loves is my fascination with the different limiting and enabling constraints placed on the creative process by the use of digital and analog tools and methods.