April 25th 2017

Today I completely forgot how to use a pen. I sitting in on a day of presentations at work, and I forgot to bring my laptop so had to rely on good, old pen and paper to make notes. It was hard. I now barely have to use a pen, so I guess I’ve just become out of practice. I was scribbling away feverishly trying to note down what the speaker was saying, but the pen couldn’t keep up with my hand which couldn’t keep up with my ears which couldn’t keep up with the speaker.

What was left looked like a four-year-olds first attempt at handwriting practice. I’ve never had good handwriting, but apparently I am really, really bad at writing with a pen.

In the end, I just got my phone out and typed up my notes. Typing on my phone I could keep up with him no problem, with a pen I had no chance.

My over-reliance on technology is probably a bad thing, but we’ll all be slaves to the robots within a couple of decades so I think it’s best to embrace it now.

I sometimes like to call myself a writer (when I think I deserve the label) and there’s something innately romantic about a writer sitting in an armchair scribbling away in a notebook with a fine squid-ink fountain pen. (I assume that ink comes from squids, right?) That picture doesn’t hold true for me. If I’m going to be writing anything significant, I need a laptop. My hand hurts too much if I write with a pen, and the words are predominantly illegible by the time I get to the bottom of page one.

Before I went travelling in 2015 I knew I’d be spending a lot of time on trains. Our transfers between countries were four, six, eight, sometimes 12 and one time 18 hours long, so I thought I could write a novel in a notebook.

That didn’t happen.

I just can’t use a pen any more. Not for anything longer than a reminder jotted on the back of my hand in ballpoint.

I didn’t take my laptop travelling with me, so in the end I barely wrote anything apart from an outline or two on the notes app of my phone.

One benefit of the notes app is it’s indestructibility. By that I mean, you can lose a piece of paper but any note I write on my phone is automatically sent to iCloud to be viewed on any device.

Perhaps writing on a laptop is less romantic, less pretentious, but it’s more practical and more efficient – my words per minute on a laptop would be ten times that on paper. You can preach to me about there being a permanent connection between ink and paper that cannot be replicated by an LCD screen, and how there is no delete or backspace button on paper, but to that I’d say you can just cross things out on a page, or throw away the paper. It’s less efficient, wasteful, and messier.

Laptops are much better.

Until tomorrow, it’s 2017, people – this is how we do shit.



3 thoughts on “Pen

  1. A most excellent defense of the laptop! And what a surprise for you to learn pens are now your nemesis. I find that when I need to write more emotionally, such as a journal entry or a high drama scene between characters I use a notebook and pen (although not the squid ink kind because I’m poor, practical and very much in love with my blue Papermates <3). But when I need to do business or outline scenes or do the nitty gritty icky stuff that comes with writing a novel, I prefer my laptop. And god love notes apps on phones. I embrace that slavitude freely.


      1. Every writer has a style and a routine unique to them. But it never hurts to deviate once in awhile to make sure you can indeed, still use a pen, eh? ;D Like reminding yourself why you don’t really like Okra by tasting it again…


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