Writing Tools

A long time ago, when I first read Writing Down the Bones, I soon got caught up with fountain pens. At the time, Sheaffer still made fountain pens that were still writing pens, not just calligraphy, and they were really cheap. I remember getting clear colors like red, blue, or green, and some opaque ones like in marbled green or blue. They leaked a lot, so I took the inkstains on my hands as a badge of being a writer.

I wasn’t simply content with my fast writing fountain pens, I bought fancier Cross pens several times over the years and I lost all of them. They were nice props to have.

I have consistently used Uniball pens. They are good rollerball pens, but I think I picked them up in bulk from Office Depot or in singles from art supply stores because I have gotten myself branded on them. While they’re not fountain pens, they still make nice props and I’m not inclined to share them.

I should switch it up, go with the Staples or Office Depot store brand and be less fixated on what I’m writing with.

There are all the times I bought hardbound notebooks or Moleskines and never finished them. The nicer the notebook, the more daunting I find them to use.

I understand the point of the Beginner’s Mind chapter in Writing Down the Bones isn’t about developing writing fetishes. However, I have to admit that I have gotten caught up in some because there is symbolic value in these things. I had often hoped to benefit from their magic.

A couple of days ago, I stopped by Target and I bought a few composition notebooks for 50¢ each.

I got them for the purpose of doing timed writing and/or to get those first thoughts down quickly. They aren’t great looking and they remind me of middle school and high school, so I don’t take it too seriously. It’s a medium where I have permission to write the worst stuff in the world. I can fail amidst all the verbal doodling.

I’ve never taken to using typewriters to write stories or poems. It’s a much more writerly symbol (more like icon) and I have come across some attempts to recreate that experience for our high tech age, such as a word processing machine built to provide the sensory experience of the electric typewriter keyboard with an e-paper screen. One gets to have an experience that is both analog and digital. However, it’s greatest appeal is that one can write without the distraction of the Internet, whether it’s random Google searches or Facebook.

I have also come across keyboards on shopping searches that offer the feel of typing, like clacking keys, for use with the computer or tablets. Unlike the e-paper typewriter, it’s still easy to get caught up with the Internet, especially social media. However, the typewriter-style keyboard is a seductively sexy prop that has tempted me a few times. No, I’ve never bought one.

Weirdly, I find it easy to thumb it out with the Notes app on my iPhone. While it’s something that’s bundled up in a very expensive smart phone, it doesn’t feel that expensive to me. It is the software equivalent of those 50¢ composition books. Whatever I write doesn’t feel so important that I get bogged down in what to say or how it looks. Also, it’s something I don’t take as seriously as Microsoft Word, which makes me freeze up.

After having smartphones for the past few years, I still have trouble taking them seriously. It is what I tweet and post Facebook statuses with and those are very artless mediums, no matter how clever one is on them. I have to admit I have spent too much time on those social networks and I have even felt at times that they have taken some of my best words and thoughts. So in a weird way, to use the smartphone as a writing tool is a way to reclaim my time and my energy writing.

However, I’ll still go with the idea that using the phone to write is liberating because I don’t take it seriously as a medium. It’s not like a journal book or even Microsoft Word. It just works.

What works is going to be constantly developing. I haven’t tried using any voice recording or voice typing yet. It might be a good way to get these thoughts out during a walk or if I’m doing something like making something on a sewing machine. There is still room to experiment and see what’s right.

This was originally posted on The Shindoverse Notebook.

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