I am sitting on a wooden bench, by the red-brick wall of a small Elizabethan palace. My back against the arm-rest, my legs stretched out before me, bare toes wriggling with the pleasure of sunshine. Behind the bench, a few sprigs of lavender nod to the breeze, giving off a delicate fragrance. The self-satisfied gurgle of the Tudor courtyard fountain is caressing my soul. Somewhere in the vicinity, a crow is cawing. I sense mockery in its tone. On my lap, my usual A4 spiral notebook; in my hand, my usual fountain pen.
A gentleman and his wife stop to ask me directions for the café in the park. Before I have a chance to point, he exclaims, “Oh, my goodness – you’re writing! And with a proper pen! It’s ages since I’ve seen anyone do that. I’m impressed!”
I am not used to strangers expressing quite so much astonishment, true, but I am used to getting looks; looks that combine puzzlement with wariness or a hint of admiration. Sometimes, when I look up, I meet a supportive smile from the person opposite me on the Tube or across the coffee shop. In my mid-forties, what used to be viewed as youthful quirkiness is now labelled as middle-age eccentricity, but the truth is I have written with a fountain since I was nine years old – ever since I was sent to a a French school. The teachers there demanded that we use nibs. Allegedly, it helped improve our handwriting. I have just never grown out of it.
I derive great pleasure from writing with a fountain pen. I love the soft murmur of a well worn-in nib as it glides on the paper, tracing glistening black swirls which turn into an elegant matt as they dry. I own four fountain pens. The latest addition (and the only non Parker-made), was crafted from a piece of 13th Century oak, recovered from the timber ceiling of York Minster. The handsome nib is engraved with a pattern of swirls. I have had it only a few months and it has not yet got used to the caprices of my hand. It has not yet learnt to pace its ink flow. It stumbles, rebels, catches on the paper, and scratches it with a harsh rasp. I try and be patient and exercise it regularly, to train it to my fingers. The eldest of the four saw me through my final school exams. The stainless steel barrel is just the right thickness and weight for my hand. The burgundy red plastic of the grip section has changed shape over the years, moulded by the knuckle of my right middle finger. The small hooded nib skates across the paper with seamless dexterity, and in almost total silence. It is an old friend who knows all my thoughts and whims, and is at one with my hand.
I like the fact that you can hold a fountain pen in your hand lightly, and not have to force it down onto the paper as you have to do with a biro. I like the boldness of the black ink that stands out against the white paper, like an uncompromising statement, ready to be counted.
Do not get me wrong. I can type on a computer. I have an excellent working relationship with my 13’’ MacBook Pro. It always knows what I want, and executes it to perfection but I cannot open my heart to it. I must hand-write it first, then convey it to Mac. I can, when faced with time restrictions, create a text straight onto computer. However, I always feel as though I have missed a stage of the process; like leaping from A to C without going through B; like eating a sandwich on the hoof instead of a sit-down meal; or jumping over a river without walking over the bridge.
Paradoxically, it can take me longer to come up with a sentence on a computer screen than on a sheet of paper. I stare at the screen and become aware of its almost imperceptible tremor. It does not inspire me, yet I cannot look away, even though my eyes start feeling tired. I get distracted by the low but monotonous whirr. Thoughts and words start chasing one another at increasingly vertiginous speed, in a chaotic game and I struggle to keep up.
The moment I pick up my fountain pen, thoughts and words get into pairs and stand in an orderly queue, waiting their turn to slide down the ink piston and flow out smoothly through the nib onto the paper.
Because my thoughts have to obey the speed of my wrist, they become more focused, more anchored. Words written on paper feel more tangible, more physical, more firmly rooted in soil – even more real. Also, my handwriting reflects back to me my own feelings about what I am writing. It is not as professionally neutral as the perfect Palatino font programmed on my Mac. It becomes irregular, crooked and even illegible when I am writing out of duty or necessity. However, the letters increase in size, the curves grow smoother, the loops acquire panache, and my penmanship becomes clearer when I mean the words I write. One could say that my handwriting is quick at calling my bluff.
Any creative writing I do – be it a theatre review, a short story, or my weekly blog – I prefer to hand-write first, then copy/edit onto computer. My novel, I am typing directly onto my laptop because I cannot bear the thought of having to copy 100,000 words. I sometimes wonder if that is the reason I am finding it difficult to connect with my novel, and why it is taking me so long to write.
In his marvellous, inspiring book, The Places in Between, Scottish historian and politician Rory Stewart narrates his journey on foot across Afghanistan in 2002. He talks about the serenity of mind he achieves while walking. He refers to travel writer Bruce Chatwin, who
“concluded (…) that we would think and live better and be closer to our purposes as humans if we moved continually on foot across the surface of the earth. I was not certain that I was living or thinking any better.”
I agree with him.
What Rory Stewart feels about the physicality of travelling on foot is akin to how I feel about writing by hand. It gives me a sense of achievement and continuity. It is grounding and brings me peace of mind. It is profoundly healing. By translating my imagination into words, hand writing manifests the ethereal into the physical – with a solid, stone bridge. I would not miss out on the walk over that bridge for anything in the world – there is a wonderful view from it.
I write letters with my fountain pen and I take notes with it in professional meetings. Noone ever gave me strange looks! Perhaps because I live in “Old Europe” (just to borrow a wisdom from George W. Bush’s mouth). I love writing with a pen, but my posts are typed on iPhones and iPads (if there is no alternative), but most of the time at a large screen iMac!
When I lived in London, and did much of my writing on buses and the Tube, I definitely attracted looks! I can’t work on large screen computers. Too long sighted :–)
I already feel the pleasure
Thank you kindly.
So true! When I want to get down an idea for one of my short stories it comes so much easier if I hand write it. Though I haven’t tried a fountain pen I can see the appeal.
Good luck with your short stories! Thanks for commenting.
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Thank you ever so much for your support!
Sorry, I accidentally posted my comment about this post on your “about” page!
truly! it is such a delight to watch someone write these days!!!! All the tapping and typing has made us more efficient surely, but much less creative and spontaneous! I have recently rediscovered the joy of journaling and I believe I am saving a little piece of me everyday on those pages and its a lovely feeling!
Thank you so much, dancingonadream.
Thank you, scribedoll! It’s a lovely post and I really enjoyed reading it!
Truly a lost art, computers have taken away so much creativity…Thanks for sharing
Thank you, Tom.
The possibility of typing on a pc has changed our writing and even thinking process: it can give shape to contents. We can cut, paste, exchange words and sentences, and our mind receives back new inputs that can bring to modify even the meanings of our thoughts. No mention of the speed competition between our mind and our fingers we are engaged to follow…Thus hand writing and pc writing are two completely different ways of composing, as well as for music.
Nevertheless I appreciate a lot your call to slow-thinking/slow-writing and viceversa in a world that push us to be every moment faster.
P.S. The problem for me is that during my school time nobody forced me to utilize a fountain pen, so that I can’t use it without making a mess and also my hand writing, because of the daily employ of the pc, is looking everyday more like scrawl (in Italy we say like “crow’s feet”).
Thank you for your thought-provoking comment, Dippi.
I totally get about how your handwriting shows your personality, a computer font is so detached and unrecognisable. Handwritten letters show a lot more care. I recently sent a handwritten letter to one of my friends from school (though we saw each other almost everyday) just for fun and she returned the favour. So exciting to get a handwritten envelope with a stamp on it!
A rare pleasure, I know. Thanks for commenting.
Lovely handwriting 🙂
Thank you, pratique21.
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It’s so kind of you to reblog. Thank you.
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Why – thank you.
I LOVE THIS POST!!! I keep a journal, both for my own sanity and to keep my handwriting in check!!! My (future) kids are going to learn how to write before I ever give them a computer to type with…
Hurray for you and your children! Thank you very much for reading and commenting.
One thing I know for certain–unless i get carpal tunnel from writing personal notes longhand (which isn’t very likely), I’m always going to do personal congratulation cards, thank you notes and etc. by hand, because people so very much appreciate it when you do. The only challenge is making it legible enough for them to read!
Thanks again or commenting.
I love to see people using actual pens and paper to write; I do it all the time. I feel like my ideas flow into words more freely when I use write by hand. The connection between hand, pen, and paper just feels more natural. Finding a favourite pen may be a weird writer thing, but man I love finding a perfect pen.
Thanks for the post! Love it.
Thank you for the praise!
Writing on paper is the best, I do it almost every time before posting on my blog! What you wrote is really true and beautifully written 🙂
Many thanks. I appreciate it.
I do admire your faithfulness to hand writing, it is a forgotten art now days. My Nan still writes because she’s not got to grips with computers, but her writing is simply beautiful, too beautiful to type! I, on the other hand, can barely understand my writing, and I don’t have the same relationship with a pen as I do my keys on my key board. My ideas and inspirations flow in abundance when my fingers touch the familiar warmth, and this I don’t get with a pen. I just simply stare for hours at the crisp paper (which I have a problem writing on in the first place because it looks too clean to spoil with my scrawl!)
I thoroughly enjoyed your post! Keep writing, well.
A Writer without a pen
To each his or her own. Many thanks for reading and commenting.
Writing on paper is a delight as you have mentioned and it’s sad that nowadays many don’t even realize its beauty. I also love to write on paper rather than typing on a computer but its something I have gotten used to due to various reasons but still whenever I can I make it a point to write on paper with my favorite pen. Overall I really liked your post and your emphasis on the delight of handwriting 🙂
Thank you – glad you enjoyed it.
It’s helpful to know that your point was less about fountain pens than I thought, I suppose, but your piece was still important to me, and by that I mean it has inspired me to start asking questions about what I use to write with. You say it’s all about personal choice, and of course I understand that — but the point I was trying to make (which I see now I didn’t make very well) — is that I didn’t know I HAD a choice, As bizarre as it may seem to others, I had no idea there was such a range of possibilities out there that might offer a completely different experience in writing longhand. I don’t even know what a rollerball is. I didn’t know that some pens need to be broken in, as you say, and that you should avoid using someone else’s pen, for reasons you talk about.
That’s why I was trying to stimulate a new thread of dialogue. I am curious about what people use to write with, and why. I obviously have a lot to learn on this subject, and thought there might be others like me out there.
It would, indeed, be interesting to hear what people feel comfortable writing with.
Reblogged this on A Fork Please? and commented:
A skill I wish to learn
Thank you so much for reblogging.
So wonderfully put 🙂
Thank you. Glad you liked it.
love this post! I love to write with pen and paper (while mine is not a fountain pen). There is something beautiful about writing with just a plain notebook and ink! I can remember how much I used to write when I was younger, now that I’m older it seems I have more of a writer’s block. I am working towards getting that “kid imagination” back again!
Thank you. Why don’t you train yourself to write – non-stop – one full page a day…. Then two…?
I had not thought of that idea! I’ll have to most defiantly try it!
Have fun with it.
Reblogged this on From thoughts to words.
Thank you for reblogging me. Very kind.
I am not at all surprised by the way this post of yours has been received. In an era dominated by technology, it is reassuring to many that there are people like us out there — people who understand the value of writing by hand; the value of having a visceral and even sensual experience in bringing our thoughts to the page. You can’t get that on a keyboard, and as far as I’m concerned, if anyone claims they do, they’ve forgotten how different it can be by hand.
The idea that writing longhand is something we eventually “grow out of” in “keeping up with the times” is a sad one to me; it is akin to saying that, if we still enjoy the comfort and pleasure of a good book on our laps, we are out of the loop or old fashioned. As a host of a radio show, I find myself constantly having to defend my refusal to read review books and material online — I spend enough time blinking at my computer screen as it is, I don’t want to throw reading books into the mix.
It also bothers me how overly-reliant people are on technology to store information. Personal address or phone books seem to be a thing of the past, but I refuse to give them up. I don’t ever want to be in a position where I cannot contact someone I love because I lost my cell phone.
Thank you for your beautifully written reflections on this topic — so important, and one that will resonate with many, I believe.
I agree. I also find it frightening that people rely on technology quite so much. I think technology is a wonderful servant – but a servant. Yet we’re increasingly giving it the role of master. Like you, I refuse to read books on a screen – I spend long enough reading blogs. I used to design theatre posters by hand. Then, when they began expecting it all to be computer graphics, I lost interest. It just wasn’t as much fun anymore. Just compare the old, hand-drawn Walt Disney animations with the computer-generated ones now…
When I first read your article, Katherine, I focused on the physical experience of sitting down with a pen and paper as opposed to clicking away at a keyboard. This alone was powerful to contemplate, and inspired me to make more room in my life for writing longhand.
It just dawned on me, however, that you talk specifically about writing with a fountain pen. Because I have never used a fountain pen, it never occurred to me (until now) how important this seemingly tiny detail is to your experience, and potentially, to mine.
I identify primarily as a writer. I have never used a fountain pen. I wonder how many people there are like me out there? More specifically, how many people responding to this blog post have ever experienced writing with one?
This “afterthought” of mine now seems to hold the seeds to a complete revolution in my relationship to writing. Your post has opened up a new world for me. Already I have learned how difficult it is to find fountain pens in Toronto — one of the two (!) places I have located so far is a tobacco store, of all places, and they have a short article on Choosing a Fountain Pen that is Right for You. I had no idea there were so many different kinds! Oh my goodness. My quest for a fountain pen now feels as important as a quest for a good therapist! Here’s the link:
I’m going to keep searching for an “everything you need to know about fountain pens” article for neophytes like me. I am hoping there are stores in my neck of the woods that actually allow you to try different kinds before you buy.
How about other folks? How easy is it to find fountain pens where you live, and have you ever written with one? Let’s start a revolution!
You don’t actually have to write with a fountain pen. It’s just a question of personal choice. I love it because I find it relaxing since I don’t have to press hard on the paper, and the stark darkness of the ink. Some people like rollerballs. Don’t worry too much about the complexities of choosing a fountain pen, described in various articles. I have always taken my chances with moderately-priced models, medium nibs, and been lucky. Ultimately, even a £700 pen will need time to be broken in. The more you write, the more the nib wears out according to your handwriting, making writing easier and smoother. That’s why you should never use someone else’s pen. Not only will it feel uncomfortable but you may damage it by making it change its inclination, so to speak.
I am surprised to hear that a large city like Toronto doesn’t have a wide choice of fountain pens.
Best of luck with your search :–)
Lovely! What a true line: “my handwriting is quick at calling my bluff.” Best of luck with your novel. I’m working on a book that has been a combination of handwriting and typing. I far prefer handwriting but, like you, appreciate the expediency of typing it directly. Have you tried handwriting the parts of the novel where you get stuck? Because you feel more connected to the handwritten words, working with a combination of both might help you feel better connected to your work.
You know? I might just try that. Thank you for your kind words and good luck with your book.
The physical act of writing has become something of a lost art. However, I always make sure to write notes and my final versions of poetry down in a notebook before ever going to my computer screen.
I tend to use the computer as a second draft editing tool.
Thank you for reminding me how much I love writing with a fountain pen. I really need to get another one. My son, the writer, does his work first on yellow legal pad then into the computer. I however, have to write on the computer (at about 60 words a minute) and even then my fingers can barely keep up with my thought process. Great post!
Thank you for your kind words. Perhaps you should occasionally treat yourself with writing with a nib..?
That is my plan. Is that a Great Blue you have as your gravitar?
Sorry, I don’t know. It’s one of the herons who tread balletically along the river Thames.
Hey, some amazing comments here, a real community of Quink-fuelled artisans!
We don’t all use Quink. Thanks for stopping by, Ernie.
I completely enjoyed this article. I used to write all the time as well. I have a diary from 1976 that I have written in off and on since that time. Throughout my youth I had pen-pals from around the world. Though I mostly use my computer to write these days, you have made me realize how much I miss the physical act of writing. Thanks for the post.
So glad you liked it. Thank you.
Gosh, I think my hand writing is getting worse and worse every day. Too much computer work!
Practice makes perfect…
I have a little experience writing with a fountain (cartridge) pen, from a few years ago, so I can relate to your beautifully written post. Thanks for inspiring me to write the ‘real way’ again. It’s really soothing to the spirit. Your perfect description of the interplay between paper and the pen’s nib was a joy to read. The writer has to come to a compromise with the physicalities of the pen’s nib – what a fascinating process. And congrats on being FP!
Thank you for your kind words – and good luck with your writing!
Hi Katherine, I enjoyed reading about your fondness for writing with pen on paper. I noticed how my life gradually changed as the use of computers took its hold. I remember a time when any creativity, like drawing, would be carried out and enjoyed through traditional means. Now it’s a struggle to return to those ways because I’m so used to just sitting at a computer. I see you too kind of struggle with that balance – you put pen to paper but then have to type up what you have written – or in the case of your novel you feel like you struggle to write it without your pen.
An interesting book I have read on this topic was The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr. Carr points out how our writing style differs when we use a wordprocessor, and also how our reading style has changed also as technology distracts us. I have since gone on to write on my own blog about some of these ideas:
Curiously, I recently watched a documentary on the BBC by Rory Stewart (whom you mentioned) – Afghanistan: The Great Game – A Personal View. I found his insight and connection with the people fascinating and at the time I searched for a book of his to acquire… The Places In Between was one such book I came across and I shall now see if my local library can source a copy for me since you have read it.
Finially, if you have time to respond (because I see your post is quite popular!) how does one find and choose a nice pen to write with?
Thank you for your kind and interesting comments. Re a new pen, I suggest you go to a shop (most places will let you do that) where you can try them out, feel the weight, the shape, the feel of the pens to see which seems most comfortable. A pen is a very personal choice. I will take a look at your blog links as soon as I can but please bear with me for a few days… A bit overwhelmed here :–) Good luck with finding a comfortable fountain pen!
I’m teaching my children how to hand write. I wish my own was more beautiful, with an effortless flow. Their father has it and I make him hand write invitations for us haha.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
My brother is teaching my 9-year-old nephew to write with a fountain pen and ink, but they ran into a roadblock, because the imitation (but real leather) 1842 log book that I bought for my nephew for 40.00 or so at Christmas so that he could write in it (it’s available with metal latch and all, it really looks authentic, from Raven Blackwood on Amazon.com) has pages that are TOO genuine (i.e., they are ultra-absorbent, and the ink leaks through from page to page). So, not to be stopped from handwriting, my nephew now uses a pencil in his little book to make up his Dungeon Master guide for the game he runs. Thank God, even though he’s greatly into computers, he hasn’t had an opportunity to neglect essential literacy when it comes to writing! He loved the log book on sight.
Great! Good on him.
How lovely it is to find another handwriter! While technology definitely allows us to write more “legibly” and at a faster rate, there is something magical about putting ink to paper that gives writing a whole new world in and of itself. I’ve never gotten used to inkpens, but I may purchase a fountain pen after reading your post. In addition, I love the fact that you are using an A4 notebook! It is impossible to find that in the States, and I would dearly love to get my hands on some British stationery. I look forward to reading more on your blog!
I didn’t realise A4 wasn’t international. Thank you for reading and commenting!
You are divine!
Thank you for the inspiration—do you have any suggests on where to find a good fountain pen for a novice who has only ever used pens that comes in packs of 5 or more?
Thank you! Try any stationery shop and try out the fountain pen first, to see how it feels in your hand.
I agree, too! That’s why all my art includes a handwritten element :).
I was just watching documentaries about Cursive being a lost art- somewhat connected to your post… But I was thinking about the same thing and I also write in cursive! I had to learn it in Elementary school and never drifted from it. You put my thoughts in words. Great post! X
Thank you for the compliment!
This was a beautiful piece. I especially loved this line: “Because my thoughts have to obey the speed of my wrist, they become more focused, more anchored. Words written on paper feel more tangible, more physical, more firmly rooted in soil – even more real.” That’s exactly how I feel. I wish my handwriting were better though. I’ve been writing in cursive with the kids I work with, and they always think it’s a different language! How surreal. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for your kind words.
Thanks ever so much!
I also write by hand when I want to send a special newsletter to my list. I just come up with better ideas and offers. I understand exactly how you feel. I just need one of those fountain pens and will get one now that I read this 🙂
Thank you! Good luck!
A wonderful blog! I used to prefer writing the old fashioned way myself. One day however I started writing on my computer and for now I seem to prefer that. I find I can type faster than I write, which is handy when I am in a mood where the sentences seem to pour out like crazy!
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Love your post! As a teacher, I have discovered that students seem to retain newly-learned information better if they take notes by hand rather than on laptops. Many students today don’t even know know how to write in cursive. (I always have loved writing with a pen.)
Thank you! I also find that students absorb better if they handwrite.
Well stated! I have been keeping hand written journals for 40 years. Hand writing is a very different type of creative experience than keying in your thoughts on a computer. Nice essay!
Thank you kindly!
I’ve never been able to write well. 😦
Just practise… Practice makes perfect :–)
Such a wonderful piece. 🙂 Congratulations on getting freshly pressed. It is well deserved.
Thank you – that’s very kind.
Being the child of two calligraphers myself I also share your passion for pen and ink. Although my calligraphic style leaves a lot to be desired there’s still something personal and unique about handwriting which no computer generated font could ever capture.
My mother is a school teacher in London and they have asked her to teach calligraphy to the year 5’s and 6’s so that the children can improve their hand writing and take more pride in their work.
That’s brilliant news. Thank you for commenting.
Meh. Lefthander here. Mirror-writing flows like water for me, but doing it the bass-ackwards way (relative to me) is painful and awkward and always has been. I’m perfectly happy to see cursive handwriting go the way of the dinosaur …
To each his/her own. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Very thoughtful article. I ‘reblogged’ it.
Thank you SO much!
Thank you ever so much.
Reblogged this on Pranab's Blog and commented:
A thoughtful blog that I came across. It is true that we have forgotten to write on paper, specially in ink. Maybe I will start using an ink pen again soon.
Go for it! Thanks again.
it is becoming a very lost art, and will soon not even be taught in schools anymore… i write every single day by hand in a Moleskin journal, just to keep my hand able to write. When I first started it was like exercising a muscle, it hurt, my hand was actually sore, but now I love it. I love looking at it. Great post.
We’re right behind you. Keep writing :–) Thank you!
It is interesting how many of us fountain pen users can wax lyrical about the act of writing. One never hears such things from the habitual biro handler, and I only recall one such outpouring from a pencil-lover. It’s not impossible to watch someone composing a novel on a keyboard and overlay the scene with James Mason hammering on the Nautilus’s pipe-organ, but it takes a certain effort, doesn’t it? There’s a simple, easily-achieved magic in the fountain pen, and one that doesn’t become diluted if more people share in it. An excellent post, and one I think I’ll be directing people to look at.
James Mason on the Nautilus pipe-organ. Now that brings back memories. I saw that film at the cinema when I was nine or ten years old and found it a bit scary. Thank you for your kind words.
I don’t like the impatience i developped over the years using a keyboard that messed up my handwriting. Now, i try to restore it by getting up in the morning and dutyfully write 3 pages about whats on my mind. It not only improves my handwriting, it also allows me to bypass my inner censor and connect with a higher part of me.
Power to your elbow! Thank you for commenting.
I absolutely agree with you – I write by hand before typing up my writing. I love writing with a pen and cannot write creatively directly on a keyboard. However, I always used to write my university essays directly on my laptop. Julia Cameron mentions the importance of writing by hand in The Artist’s Way.
Thank you. I think Julia Cameron may also mention it in ‘The Right to Write’.
Reblogged this on Folded Corners And Scribbled Notes.
Thank you so much for reblogging!
You’re welcome 🙂
What a delightful read. Like you, I also love writing by hand – It is an expressive art form, unique to each writer. I find great comfort in my notebook and pen, it synchronises with my (often haphazard) thoughts, gently nudging them out of my mind and onto the paper that eagerly awaits their arrival.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us all.
Thank YOU for commenting.
I couldn’t agree more. I get strange looks when I get out my fountain pen so it’s great to know that I’m not alone in my love of an ink pen and pages of good quality paper.
Thank you! Judging from today’s response, we’re in excellent company.
Thanks. Good to know there are so many of us out there.
yes! i love hand writing! i’m one of those freaks that writes first drafts of essays with a pen and paper. i also keep a journal and an idea notebook. i’ll never give it up. there’s something so much more inspiring about hand writing. AND i love fountain pens too but i’m a bit too much of a mess to own one.
Good for you! We’re not freaks, you see, there’s a surprisingly large number of us :–) Trust me, if you find the right fountain pen, you won’t be messy with it.
..absolutely, totally marvellous! another person who likes real writing, with real ink and real pens! pa! a revelation, say I…!!
Hurray for us! Thank you!
I love, love, love fountain pens, but rarely use them unless I am in my home. They are such an oddity in my everyday life people are overly fascinated with them and have had a few walk off. I love to hand write thank you/compliments notes to companies because I am image they rarely get handwritten items rather than web forms and it just seems more sincere. And why the heck are children not taught cursive anymore (at least not in my area, anyways)?
Really? Aren’t children taught cursive anymore? I don’t know many small children, so am out of touch. Which country do you live in?
i am in north texas, they learn some sort of weird cursive print thing, but not real cursive. it’s sad.
That is, indeed, sad.
I love your description! I enjoy handwriting as well and you are right, writing with a fountain pen is more elegant, effortless, even romantic and for me, it is the ultimate guilty pleasure because you have to have time for it. I must admit that I tend to use a fountain pen at work, especially when writing compliment slip and other personal notes to other people. I hope it makes them feel a bit special 🙂
I also love to write with a pencil, I think it has similar flow and easiness as pen. What do you think?
I don’t much like writing with a pencil because I can only get on well with a very soft one, but then end up smearing the page with my hand. Also, I keep needing to sharpen it and it then gets too sharp…
Thank you for reading and commenting.
What a perfectly delightful article. It could ONLY have been written with a fountain pen! 🙂
I have written with fountain pens all my life, (since at least age 8) and never find any other writing instrument quite so satisfying, or inspiring. I am glad to know I am not the only one who has more than one and has a personal relationship with each of them! 😉
Handwriting is, sadly, a dying art, but I am glad to see there are still a few holdouts against the oncoming tide of technology. Interestingly, in ancient China, when someone wrote something, a story, a poem, or even something a simple as an invitation to a dinner party, not only were the words used supposed to be beautiful, but so were the characters which represented them on the page. Bad handwriting, or more properly, bad calligraphy, was a major social faux pas in those days.
Thank you for a lovely, inspiring article, and long may the fountain pen live!!!
I agree. Now, sadly, with everything e-mailed, we can’t form an opinion of someone’s personality by studying his/her handwriting. Thank you for reading and commenting.
“Because my thoughts have to obey the speed of my wrist, they become more focused, more anchored. Words written on paper feel more tangible, more physical, more firmly rooted in soil – even more real.”
I cannot agree more. I just started handwriting letters to my five year old grandson. He will be starting Kindergarten this fall and I want him to start appreciating the art of letter writing. I have missed out on so much because we live far from each other. But I am determined to make up for some of missed precious moments by beginning a writing relationship with him. I hope that my letters will stimulate his thinking and also become the writing memories he will look back on with a smile.
I’ll bet your grandson – when he is old enough to understand the loving nature of what you are doing – will treasure your letters. Thank you for sharing this lovely experience, and for your kind words.
I still have all my manuscripts that I started in handwritten form. I understand the feeling of putting pen to paper. Just this weekend I took my son fishing and I sat in a chair beside the lake writing in a notebook. I started my newest book Saturday night using pen and paper. My assistant cringed when I handed it to her yesterday morning to input. She is a college student and thinks everything should start on a computer or electronic device. I just smiled and enjoyed the moment. I am 43 and I still love to hold a pen in my hand.
Thanks for your story, it was nice.
Keep enjoying writing by hand. Your assistant is certain to discover and learn something of great value. Thank you for your comment, stephaniehurt.
“I have an excellent working relationship with my 13’’ MacBook Pro. It always knows what I want, and executes it to perfection but I cannot open my heart to it.”
I know this feeling. It takes me a long time to type on a computer. I always wondered why, until I read the quote above. I cannot open myself on a computer as I do when I write with a pen. Maybe I need to go back to it. In addition, I really enjoyed reading this piece. You still is smooth and entertaining, in its own right. It has been a long time since I’ve read anything so smooth (I am a picky reader). Looking forward to reading more from you,
Thank you so much for your kind words, Jungo. I appreciate it.
You can provoke brisk conversation among writers by asking, “Which are the things you (ought to) write by hand rather than on a computer?” Among the answers I usually get: love letters, poetry, letters of condolence, shopping lists. Everyone seems quickly to recall a time when handwriting was more suitable than typing.
Having written for about seventy years — childish scribbles to political speeches, which is not such a leap, and a few stories along the way — I still feel more at ease, more in control, with a note pad and pen than with a keyboard.
I know just what you mean, PJ. One somehow feels one has a grip on one’s thoughts, with a pen/pencil/biro in hand. Thank you for commenting.
You’re absolutely right – there’s nothing that beats hand writing. I love my handwriting so much I sometimes pause in the middle of writing and admire it. Putting pen to paper is something that makes writing even more dear to me – I love everything about it especially the scratching of the point against the paper.
Kudos to you for writing such a beautiful post 🙂
Thank you, afairbitofwriting. Keep enjoying your beautiful handwriting.
You have perfectly captured the essence of “joys of handwriting”! I can so relate to it .. I too write down my posts first, (in my extremely dog eared notepad) and then type it on my computer .. 🙂
More power to your elbow, laksh! Thank you!
I know exactly what you mean. There is something so much “more” to the written word than to the typed… it feels like it means something without being so clinical and emotionless….
Thank you for commenting, SYNADE.
What a wonderful post! I’m not that much younger than you and I do the exact same thing. I have a few fountain pens (which nobody this side of the pond really knows anything about, at least in my circle of influence) and way too many notebooks to indicated anything other than an obsession. I, too, keep a blog and hand write about 97% of my posts first. I even keep handwritten copies of everything as well. It can make typing things over a bit of a pain, but it keeps me grounded and closer to our writing ancestors. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.
Thank you so much for your kind words, jenniesisler. So glad you share my love of hand writing. All the best to you.
Nice write-up. I completely agree about the therapeutic nature of hand-writing. There are times when my hand-writing has conveyed to me if I subconsciously thought I could use a better word there. Or if the sentences just didn’t blend in. I just love the feeling of that. I don’t write with a fountain pen, but the crisp sound of pencil scribbling away on paper comes pretty close for me.
You make writing with a pencil sound very appealing. Thank you.
You make me miss using fountain pens! I may have to go buy one after work now! 😀 Lovely article, and great opener!
Thank you, captaindrae. Have you bought one, then?
Not yet. I like unusual things, so a regular Parker isn’t what I’m after and I haven’t found one yet XD I’d love one made of marble or with a pattern on it, but no lucky yet. Any suggestions for places online where interesting ones can be ordered?
Online? Sorry, absolutely no idea. Happy hunting. A marble pen might feel a wee bit heavy in your hand, though – and cold.
I have horrible hand writing, but yeah there’s nothing like holding a pen and having the connection with paper. As opposed to typing, just more true feeling to it 🙂
Thank you for commenting, andy1076.
Writing by hand and receiving mail (not on the computer!) are becoming lost pleasures. I love both and although I don’t own a fountain pen, I have a collection of pens I love and use different ones for different types of writing.
Thank you for commenting, Paula Turner.
In the course of studying my family history I have come across several lengthy personal letters and a farm diary, all of which were handwritten. I especially enjoyed the letters as they made me feel included in their life.
In one letter to a great aunt that I had never met and hadn’t even known existed, my grandmother was writing a beautiful condolence letter following the death of my grandfather (auntie’s brother). It was very touching, truly a beautiful letter, She closed the letter sending all of our love and specifically wrote the names of every single family member, done in such a way as to express that we were all there for her in such a gracious way. I treasure all of the handwritten letters I own and it has inspired me to write rather than type any personal communication.
In our world of instant communication we have forgotten the art of letter writing and it’s effect on its receivers.
I also have some handwritten letters from my grandmother and great-grandmother. As you can relate, they’re a treasure to me. Thank you for your comments.
This is amazing! I Couldn’t agree more with you! And you explained it beautifully 🙂
Thank you so much, abu horreya.
its nice to read the truth behind the power of a pen and know it evokes great words with great intent
Thank you, ZOEYNIKKI.
The power behind the pen inscribes knowledge on paper for us to read and become empowered.
Thank you for your comment, ZOEYNIKKI.
The handwriting in the image – Is that your handwriting? If yes, your handwriting is beautiful and Why wouldn’t words want to flow out smoothly through the nib when you have such a beautiful handwriting as this.
Thank you, Allwin Bright. You’re very kind.
I know! I feel the same way. I have to write it first, then type it – although, I don’t use a fountain pen at this point. But it is interesting that I mentioned getting one to keep our family scrap/log book the other day! Thanks.
Thank you so much, Red Toenails.
Modern technology is a wonderful tool and it is meant to make life easier. But there is no greater joy for a writer, then to have your pen glide over the paper and see your thoughts magically appear. The words flow beautifully, you can feel them and guide them. Each writer has their own method of writing. There is no right or wrong, but what joy it brought me to read that there is someone out there who shares the same pleasures in writing as I do. My best wishes and thank you.
I am very grateful for your kind words, nomdeplumage.
PS. I just bought my first fountain pen thanks to your post. So thank you for the inspiration and good luck with your writing.
I am so pleased for you, and wish you much joy with your new fountain pen.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I love a bit of handwriting, particularly with a fountain pen. I’m actually a primary school teacher and I like to make a big deal of handwriting, so I have a giant turquoise quill and ink that the ‘writer of the week’ gets to use. They love it! Bless them.
At the same time, I’m a very loud typer and I love the rappety tap tap of the keys on the keyboard. Though I do sometimes get complaints!
There’s nothing quite like though when you have a really old looking journal and just scribble away. Fabulous. Especially on a bench in the sunshine 😀
Thanks for commenting. I’ll bet your pupils will remember very fondly the times they got to write with your quill.
This is exactly how I feel when I hold my dark red-cherry colored fountain pen in my left hand… I’ve used the same pen and provided all the necessary maintenance since I was 11. It was one of the ordinary fountain pens in my father’s office and still keeps living with me… I can’t imagine my writing without it!
Thanks for this lovely post!
Hi, dnizsezgun – my new friend! Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to this comment of yours. I am slowly working my way through all the comments. A dark red cherry fountain pen. That sounds so elegant!
I always believe that writing with hand can be another form of meditation.
What a beautiful way of putting it – and so true.
Thank you, Priya.
hey this is interesting…I wrote something recently 🙂
Great minds think alike :–)
I see your point. This summer I was on a writing camp and met a girl who writes in hand, everything, even her novel. Then she types it onto her computer, and I don’t think you should be too scared of it, because, as she says, it’s a smart way to be forced into editing 🙂
Excellent tip. Will try it. Thanks!
I also much prefer fountain pens over biros – writing is so much less exhausting when you don’t have to press the pen down so hard, and my handwriting is much prettier.
I used to write stories in biro as a kid, to set them apart from “school” writing (where we had to use fountain pens and blue ink), but now that school’s well behind me, it’s the other way round, biros for work and fountain pens – with ink in every colour of the rainbow – for my stories.
Your stories must look wonderful on the page.
Love this! Ink pens make handwriting look so much neater than biros. I want to go out and buy one now xD
Happy shopping! Thanks for commenting!
When I was in school, I used to hand write all my research papers first. Everyone thought I was nuts, but, unfailingly, if I did not start writing that way, my grades would fall short of an A. I, to this day, believe it was because I cannot express myself as well through simply typing my thoughts. There’s something so much more personal and connective about handwriting things. 🙂 Really enjoyed this post!
Thank you so much, mcvillainous! Keep writing!
I like writing with different tools every once in a while because I feel that every tool I use activates a different part of my brain and I use different words, structure and tone. Writing on computer and handwriting are both great in their own way. But I hold a special place in my heart for typewriters, too. There’s something about the snapping of the keys and the “ding!” at the margin that inspires me more than anything!
My mother also enjoys using a typewriter. I’ve never used one. By the time I needed to type anything, they had been replaced by computers. Thank you for commenting.
I agree completely with you on the sheer joys of writing with ink and paper!! Do check my blog at http://theparchmentandquill.wordpress.com
Thank you! What a beautiful homepage you have!
Thank you very much!! I’m glad you liked it!!
Until now, I’m still writing diary, It gives me an satisfaction which couldn’t be expressed by words.
Keep on writing,
Enjoy the pleasure of writing your diary. Thanks for commenting.
When internet connections fail and computer need to be turned-off, here comes bestfriend pen and it never broke my heart.
I so much love writing too…writing in its literal sense 😉
Sribble, scribble…hihihi. I am also fond of heading to the bookstore to buy pens. 😉
Nice post, congratulations for being freshly-pressed 🙂
Thank you! I am so thrilled to have found so many like-minded people.
If this text was handwritten, how did it get onto your blog then?
Lovely article! I agree with you and I also love hand writing and try to write as often as I can.
Thank you very much, niki.
I LOVED how descriptive you were in the first paragraph! And I agree whole-heartily, writing anything creative by hand feels much more right, even though I write almost everything directly at the computer.
Thank you so much, TheOriginalBURP.
my hand writing used to be neat but ever since i have started to care less about it it has got worse. this is a great blog thank you for posting this up it has made me think more of my writing.
Thank you, trumpettune. Enjoy writing.
This was a good read. I picked up the writing bug, mostly for blogging purposes, in just the last couple of years. I’ve tried using a journal and pen, but I find myself in a similar situation to yours–except the words are hesitant to put themselves on paper but are much more willing to make their way through the keyboard and onto the screen.
I’m curious. How much editing do you do, either during the initial write or later when you transcribe the material to your computer?
It really depends. Mainly, it depends on how much I happen to be enjoying what I’m writing. The more I enjoy it, the less I edit. Thank you so much for commenting.
What a beautiful post! I am not only enjoying the subject matter, but also the way it is written. Meta-writing – wonderful! I agree, there’s something great about writing with a fountain pen, and I also believe that the art of handwriting should be kept alive, alongside all those hours during which we hit the keystrokes. I’m currently experimenting with different shades of blue in my fountain pen trying to find the perfect one, but after reading this post and seeing your handwriting, black looks appealing again! Your Parker made out of ceiling timber from York Minster sounds too good to be true; I admit, I am envious!
My York Minster ceiling timber pen is not a Parker. It was made by a York craftsman. You can get one from the York Minster gift shop. They can send it by post.
I enjoyed this post very much. I don’t own a fountain pen, but now I want to go out and buy one. I love the process of writing thoughts on paper. I used to love collecting pens and stationary. For fun, I would pull out parchment paper my feather quill pen and write letters by candle light. I even had sealing wax. With much delight, I imprinted a rose seal on my letter and sent it off to my best friend. Thank you for reminding me of those days. Now, I have gotten used to my Macbook Pro. You’re right. It’s not quite the same.
I wrote my first play entirely with a quill and ink – for a bet. Thank you for commenting.
I love handwriting – I was always that kid in highschool that took twice as long to write out my notes because they had to be beautiful. It seems to help me follow lectures better – even now, I find it easier to take notes while listening.
This makes me want to run out and buy a million fountain pens (I always have pens with me, but I’ve never had fancy pens – I’m too bad at losing them)!
You don’t need a fancy or expensive pen. You just need one that is right for you. Thank you so much for commenting.
German poet Heinrich von Kleist wrote an essay on “the development of thoughts while [we are] speaking”, and I feel much the same about the development of ideas while writing and sketching with an actual pen. Hence I love my fountain pens. And thus I very much enjoyed your essay – it is so true! And a fascinating piece of prose. Thanks!
How interesting. If you read this response, then could you kindly let me know the title of Heinrich von Kleist and which works it comes from? Thank you for commenting.
…with pleasure! The title is “Über die allmähliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden”, first published in 1811 according to this source where you’ll also find the German text: http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/589/1
As for the English translation, I found these two titles through Wikipedia: “On the Gradual Production of Thoughts Whilst Speaking”, or “On the gradual development of thoughts in the process of speaking.”
I hope this helps and the text proves fruitful for you.
Thank you very much. I will look it up. It sounds very interesting.
I was educated in England and I now write badly and illegibly with a ballpoint or happily on my PC or laptop. My daughter is fifteen. She has been educated since she was six in France. She has beautiful handwriting. She writes stories and poems with her fountain pen. I am quiet envious of her beautiful creations.
What’s stopping you from acquiring a fountain pen and indulging, every so often? Go on… You’ll love it :–)
Funny you should say that. After replying to your post I acquired one and I am practising with it. I thought how lovely it would be if I could sign my name with it. I have a very few orders for signed copies of a book. I think I just might do it. 🙂
Go for it! :–)
“The moment I pick up my fountain pen, thoughts and words get into pairs and stand in an orderly queue, waiting their turn to slide down the ink syphon and flow out smoothly through the nib onto the paper.”
……So well said. Couldn’t stop myself from appreciating these lines.
Thank you so much, Dheeraj.
I want to go out right now and buy a fountain pen. I feel there is sense in what you say because from a mindfulness stance the pen seats you more in your body, you feel the pen, you feel it move across the paper (as you describe so well) and this movement paces and slows you and hence slows your thinking pace and allows ‘thoughts to get in pairs and queues’ as you so beautifully said. This post deserves to be freshly pressed. Congrats.
Thank you! You’re right, it has to do with touch and feeling the physical movement as you trace the letters.
oh, the joy of using fountain pen…I’m left-handed but still since I was 8 years old and got my first fountain pen from my Mum I’m in love with them and using them for my everyday writting…I smudge the text sometimes, my hand gets dirty but still my love for my little black/white/rubbery Parker is stronger than need for clean lines and clean hands. I think I’m actually proud of those blurs and steins-they feel so real. I am too struggling with my novel and I can not write my poems on laptop-it’s pen and notebook, maybe that is why my writings been so little right now as I mostly write on computer…thank you for this beautiful reminder of my love for handwriting
Thank YOU for the comment. I hear you can buy left-handed fountain pens which prevent smudging.
so true. i can barely write for long on a laptop/screen. i prefer the old pen and paper routine. fountain pens are my favourite too. own(and carry) two at all times. 🙂
I also carry two fountain pens, with a tiny bottle that used to contain frankincense essential oil, now filled with black ink.
I do think that handwriting conveys emotions better than typing on a screen. It’s much more personal and shows you care by taking the time to create a hand written note! Lovely post!
Thank you, Writer Fighter.
That was really interesting! I have the handwriting capacity of a three-year-old but my skills with a keyboard are to be reckoned with 😀 I have a fountain pen at my house, but have long since forgotten how to take care of it properly :- I
Perhaps it’s time you went and dug out that forgotten fountain pen..? Thanks for commenting.
“… moulded by the inside of my right middle finger knuckle. The small nib tip skates across the paper with seamless dexterity, and in almost total silence. It is an old friend who knows all thoughts and whims… ”
… Wow! So beautifully chosen words!! Wish to see your handwriting after reading this. 🙂
My handwriting is in the picture. Thank you so much for your kind comment!
How can two people think so alike, when we don’t even know each other? You do get it Katia, don’t you? Not just that, but exactly the way I think about this too!
On my blog, I have written a couple of posts on writing by my hand. They are not nearly as focused as this post of yours, but if you are interested to read, here are the links to two of them – http://anidealistthinker.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/all-this-time/
Just yesterday, I did both – type on my laptop and write in my notepad (smaller than A4). I had an itch, a gnawing feeling before. After 2 hours of putting pen to paper, I got up feeling so much lighter. It’s a pity I can’t describe it any better, since I am typing this straight onto my computer!
Green ink is enticing! Thank you for this read.
Gosh, you are swamped! When I wrote my comment, there were only a couple and mine was just below the ‘green ink’ one!! That’s why the reference to that in mine.
I know! It’s overwhelming – but in a very lovely and flattering way. I can’t tell you how honoured I feel. I am slowly working my way through the comments and responding to them, so please bear with me :–)
Thank you for your lovely comment – and for flagging up your two posts. I really enjoyed them.
Thank you for your lovely comment – and for flagging up your two posts, An Idealist Thinker. I really enjoyed them.
Beautifully written – and I could hear the pen against paper as I continued to read! I only wish that writing with a fountain pen was clean and neat with the left hand – nearly impossible to do, and the reason I stopped using it! Still, it evokes wonderful memories of a time when hand-writing was truly an art and something not to be rushed. Thank you – and congrats on being freshly pressed!
Thank you so much! I am told you can buy left-handed fountain pens, in case you’re interested.
Really! I’ve never heard of those, will need to do some research then! Thanks…
I love fountain pens. My teacher at school insisted we all used them and gave us all one (aged 9 or 10). I think you should write your novel in pen and pay for someone to type it up once it’s complete (or as you go along).
Too broke to pay someone to type up my novel (though a kind fiend has offered to do it for free). Also, typing my manuscripts provides a good editing opportunity.
I want to go out and buy a fountain pen again. 🙂
I started writing my novel on paper as well, but the quality of the pen was somehow the last thing on my mind. Maybe if I had taken the trouble of picking the right pen, I might not have abandoned the novel halfway through. Or maybe I would have. But either way, the perfect pen only adds to the romance of writing by hand, don’t you think?
Absolutely, PencilGirl. Thank you for commenting.
When I write on paper Mom asks if they are ants running all over, such is my handwriting:) I love scribbling with pencil though. It gives me the an advantage of rubbing it and I like pencil’s ‘soft murmur’ that you talk of.
Makes me find back my pencil, sharpen and scribble something. Comforting read. Keep up:)
Thank you so much. My mother finds my writing illegible. Happy pencil-writing!
Loved your description of the nib gliding across the paper. You definitely are savoring writing the things you write. It’s almost like Little Chef in Ratatouille describing the tastes to Remy. Please put up pictures of your fountain pens.
I too had a couple of loyal pens that I used when I was in school. I remember the ink stains on my fingers, my ink stained desk, rags of cloth I used to clean up, experimenting with different inks : Royal Blue, Turqoise , forgetting the adjective for Black. Then came college with the refillable ball point pens and now I barely write on paper ( scrawl my name is more accurate )once a month. I’m sure if I had to write a page like you have my hands would ache halfway in between !
I have this weird habit of writing my name on books I purchase along with the date and location where I bought them. It’s nowhere as awesome as writing something substantial on paper .. but still it still gets me writing something atleast !
Great post !
I loved the comparison to the scene in Ratatouille! Now that you mention it, that’s very much what it reminds me of too!
Thank you, Harshil. You’re very kind. I asked my fountain pens but they are reluctant to have their picture posted. They’re rather shy.
Harshil, why don’t you have a go at writing a small page, once a week. Just take a pen and start writing – follow your thoughts… You might discover something magical.
I love to reexamine the handwritten journals of my travels and see my handwriting on the gorgeous paper. When I see the ink on the page, not only do I relive the journey and all the amazing things I saw, but also acknowledge that details that I took the time to write in my own hand. My travel journals are one of my husband and my prized possessions. He may even love them more.
Great post. I enjoyed it.
Thank you so much. Treasure your travel journals.
After reading this I think I’ll go find that bottle of ink and fountain pen I got the kids a few years ago and try my hand at it. I’m glad to know a fountain pen has to be “broken in,” so to speak. I would have thought I was just clumsy!
I have taken up letter writing again in an effort to have some kind of physical connection with friends and family who live far away. E-mail is nice for some things, but a letter has been touched by my loved one and bears unmistakeable signs of their personality. Sometimes it even has the faint odor of their home or cologne. In an increasingly digital world, it’s nice to have something so tangible as paper, ink, and imperfect handwriting.
I wish you joy with your fountain pen. Thanks for commenting.
i absolutely loved your post! but i have to ask a question out of pure curiosity. i personally developed my typing skills in order to expedite the writing process. how to do you find time to essentially write everything twice? i seem to struggle to find time to write something once!
Well, I find I save time because I have fewer corrections to make when I handwrite first. Thank you for your comment.
I really enjoyed reading this! You have put into words exactly the way I feel about writing by hand. I especially love handwriting letters and journal entries. It’s just more “real” somehow. I too have had people ask me, “you actually still write letters by hand?”
If you’d ever like a pen pal just let me know.
I purchased a new fountain pen recently but am not used to the nib size yet. It’s so bold and I’m so used to fine points but love the flow of the turquoise ink that I got for it!
Thanks so much for writing about writing and congratulations on FP!
Thank you so much, cArol. I would have a penpal… if I could rely on efficient postal services :–)
it’s our diary , sob ?
Sorry, I don’t understand.
This is a wonderful observation about handwriting. There is certainly freedom to “say anything” when words are committed from pen to paper. You’ve captured the essence of handwriting eloquently! Thank you for sharing.
And than YOU for your kind comment, tbabingtoncraftswag.
I’m really particular about my pens. Everything I write starts out written on paper with a pen before I even think of sitting down to the computer!
Great! Thanks, Mechasketch.
Absolutely love this; great post! I’ve always adored the pure process of hand-writing and still do; though, I use the computer for more lengthy pieces. I really want to go get a fountain pen now. I wish more people took the time and effort to write by hand because it does take more focus and can mean so much more, as you stated.
Thank you so much, Rachel.
What a delightful post! I purchased a fountain pen and a journal to take on a once in a lifetime river cruise down the Rhine. I wrote by hand everyday wanting my writing to equal the slow pace of the river banks passing from view. I didn’t want technology to take over. There was something soothing and natural about hand writing. I hope to continue and thank you for your post. I found it most encouraging and enlightening.
Sounds like an idyllic trip. Thank you so much for your comments.
i have a cursive handwriting and like you i have to write on notebooks before i type and i think that’s real writing straight from the heart 😀
Absolutely! Thanks for commenting.
Love fountain pens! Wish I knew where mine were….
Happy hunting for them!
WOnderful read–takes me back to my high school graduation when my parents gave me my first Parker pen, a beautiful fountain pen. I have the matching ball point and pencil now too, but they all need cleaned up and put to good use again. Thanks for reminding me the gifts those pens can give back when provided the chance!
You may feel as though you’re rekindling old friendships with your pens. Thank you for commenting.
Beautifully written! I used to hand write first, but college and graduate school left little time for that except note-taking in class (Yes, I was one of the rare few without a laptop or tablet in class). With this wonderful reminder of the age before technology took over, maybe I should consider going back to handwriting before typing. Thank you!
Good luck with hand-writing again. Thank you for your comments.
Reblogged this on CollectiveCompositions! and commented:
A kindred spirit, a writer in love with the process of pressing pen to actual paper. Wonderful.
Thank you ever so much for reblogging this. I appreciate it.
I too, used to write on paper then transcribe to computer. I still do. However, I’m left handed, which leaves my handwriting much to be desired, and I lack the patience to make the beautiful script I see on the above photo. Perhaps I will try, as you say, and give my self a bit of time a day to write by hand. At the very least, My writing is sure to improve. 🙂
I understand you can by left-hand pens. Not sure where, though. Thank you so much for commenting.
What a wonderful post! First thing tomorrow morning, I shall go looking for my old fountain pens. The ink bottle is probably gone tho. Something to shop for this weekend. I have a lovely old standup desk and the only significant stain on it is where a cat knocked over the ink bottle I carelessly left open when I walked away from my desk.
My late cat left me alone when I wrote by hand, but kept climbing on the laptop keys when I typed. Once, she managed to turn an entire play into Zapf Dingbats font. Thank you for commenting.
I decided to get ink for my fountain last week and this post is a pleasant reminder of why. My handwriting has gotten harder to read over the years but I find that slowing down does seem to help. Thanks!
Thank you for commenting, Alifecurated.
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I get it. Totally. I never seem to run out of words when I am writing on paper with pen in hand. I love using a fountain pen, the occassions much to few and far between. I have kept a sporadic journal for years, almost daily when I was expecting and then through the infant and toddler stages. Now that there is a grandchild on the way, they are wonderful to reread and share.
Congrats on being FP.
Thank you, Antarabesque. Glad you liked it.
I am reminded that I regularly attempt to hand write, with cartridge pen, my prayers. As a result they are much more focused and specific. An excellent discipline.
I can relate to this a lot. I grew up in England and went to an all-girls school for a few years. We were also made to write with a fountain pen. The ink I used was a royal blue and I always loved how the pen always made my writing flow so fluidly, using the blotting paper to dry the ink, and then getting that special pen that erases fountain pen ink if needed.
I still have my fountain pen somewhere, although it hasn’t been used in years. You have inspired me to start doing so again, especially since I also prefer to write by hand than type.
Go for it, Nicolle. So glad you enjoyed my post.
I completely understand where you’re coming from when you say you feel as though you’ve missed a step in the process when you skip straight to typing. Although it definitely works for blogging, when I write an essay for school I must write out my thoughts and outline on paper before tackling the draft on the computer. Somehow, it just seems more complete to scribble out all my thoughts in a notebook before organizing them. The same goes for my to-do lists.
Great post (:
Thank you so much, Heathersbee.
This was such a great post to see! Lately I’ve become obsessed with the art of writing, not necessarily constructing sentences, but the beauty of the script. I picked up a quill and inkpot with a specific purpose in mind, but the experience was amazing. It feels completely different to write with a quill. I can only describe it as more “civilized”, because the writing itself is an art form. I’m so glad that I’m not entirely alone in my eccentric ways. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
Thank YOU for responding :–)
I have a fountain pen addiction. Try to find an italic nib for your pen – if you can change the nibs out.
Thanks for the tip. I use an italic nib only when designing greeting cards.
I agree 100%. I get my best writing accomplished with pen and paper (although I prefer a blue pen) and by the time I get it typed, I’m on the second draft.
You’re right. It’s a good way of revising the original.
Is that your handwriting in the picture? It looks lovely!
Yes, it is. Thank you.
I know exactly how you feel when it comes to trying to type up your stories, it just seems like they refuse to come out. I hand write all of my stories first, even my 130,000+ word novel:) It’s a real pain sometimes, but its just part of a writer’s style. Keep up the good work!
You’ve just encouraged me to give up typing the first draft of my novel, and handwriting it first, instead. Thank you!!
You’re welcome! I wish you luck!
Hello, Scribe Doll…
I share your joy of writing in the literal sense of the act. I am aspiring to publish my stories–from short ones to novels–and from the start, have written all of them in freehand. Of course, that meant volumes of paper to keep and file and sort from time to time. And yet, the feel of pen on paper seemed to inspire the writing muse more often than the electronic ones.
I was criticized for not writing my stories directly on laptop, to learn the idea of typing as I try and follow the modern tool. I have an unspoken affinity with a scribbling tool in my right hand since I am a visual artist–at ease and enjoying the extension of my hand and mind at the nib of a pencil, pen or marker.
Years later, I still cherish writing on paper, and have kept the voluminous pile even if it was against my siblings and friends concept of “hoarding trash”. Somehow, memories unfold each time I held the loose pages, enjoying the moments that transpired as I read my own writings from it…in blue Bic ballpen, a #1 Mongol, or Parker’s permanent black ink.
More power, and all the best of luck!
I totally relate to the feeling of affinity with the writing instrument in your hand. Thank you for your kind words.
Inspired me to pull out my calligraphy supplies and get to work again. Thank you for sharing. Namaste
I appreciate your comments. You are very kind.
I also recently started hand writing again. I bought a moleskine and this slim pen that sticks to it so I can never have an excuse of not having a pen and notebook!
Hurray! Have fun with it.
You’re hand writing is gorgeous! As a kid, I always wanted a fountain pen, but they were kept away from me. Probably for fear of me splattering ink everywhere.
Thank you – I am flattered.
First things first, Congratulations for being freshly pressed.
Your intro sets the proper background for a worthwhile reading. Very descriptive that I feel I am in your shoes. Perfect.
That fountain pen really deserves a rightful owner who definitely has the superb writing skills. (Or) This writer really deserves that precious fountain. Whichever it is, keep on writing (I am talking to the pen). Hahaha. Seriously, keep on writing for us ‘scribe doll’.
Thank you, Solemn Punch! I shall!
Lovely post! While I keep a moleskin journal on hand at all times, I have not had a fountain pen in years and your post brought out a good sort of longing. I also love your reference to Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between. Brilliant book. Thanks for a great read!
Thank you for you kind comments, Marilyn. Very glad you enjoyed it.
This post instantly caught my eye on “Freshly Pressed” section – I totally agree with you, there is just something rather satisfying about writing on paper which I can never get from typing. It does just feels like I’ve missed a step! I’m a student, and even on my dissertation I put pen to paper, then from that onto Word… my peers thought I was a bit strange, and a bit old school, but it definitely helped me organise my words and thoughts into more coherent structures. Very well written and engaging post, thanks for making me smile!
So glad it made you smile. Thank you!
Wow. I suddenly felt guilty after reading this. Actually, I used to prefer writing than typing. I kept 5 journals all through out college but after that, everything got more fast paced and I just cant write anymore. Thankfully, there are some things that forced me to have a break and now, I am back to hand writing again!
Thanks for this. It’s a good read. 🙂
Just enjoy it. Thank you for commenting.
I really love this. Scribble away!
I shall – thanks :–)
Beautifully written. I loved how you gave each one of your pens a personality.
That’s because they each have one :–) Thank you!
I love this post. I like writing with a fountain pen too. It inspires me more than a biro for some reason. When I start to write a new story I always write longhand and then edit it when I type it up. Your blog is great and i am a follower now. cheers Judy 🙂
Thank you for following my blog – and for your compliment.
I love handwriting, especially the way it looks. However, I find that if I write something by hand on a piece of paper it never gets typed up so I have folders of old stories I wrote and never typed up and edited.
It is unfortunate but at least I hand write most of my notes for school — I am known for writing in green pen and have been doing so since high school — it was a pain when my stuff was less than anonymous in peer editing.
It’s a shame you haven’t typed up your stories. Perhaps you can start doing so now? Thanks for reading and commenting.
I love your post. Through the years, I have found that people somewhat admire people who write with an actual pens these days or think they are completely ignorant to technology. I prefer to write with a pen and paper on any given day; however, I can and do work on the computer when it is needed. Honestly, I cannot count the number of notebooks I have filled and my husband is always getting after me to get rid of them or transfer them to the computer. I am working on my first manuscript…and yes I am hand-writing it. I find that if I do that rather than type it, the words and therefore my characters become more life-like. I love this, and it is so good to know that I am not the only ‘oddity’ out there with her pen and paper in front of her creating!!
Here’s to all of us “oddities”! Thank you for your comment.
I completely understand what you feel… When I was in school, I had a really bad handwriting, so I always used a fountain pen. Although I type more, I still find myself picking up a pen and writing in a diary. It never really makes for a good read, but it is nonetheless satisfying… Congratulations on being freshly pressed!
Thank you ever so much! Enjoy writing!
That’s how I feel about my journal as well. I do like typing on a computer, but it is something about putting pen to paper that sets your mind free. Sometimes i feel like while I’m typing that my brain is in a digital jail which is why my thoughts always get disturbed and it’s hard for me to finish even one post. I’m gonna take your tip of writing out my posts before I type them out, that idea sounds GREAT! This post was wonderful and I love the way you write. 🙂
Many thanks. I am glad you enjoyed it. Good luck with hand writing :–)
I know what you mean about hand writing being a part of the creative process of writing. When I write longer pieces on the computer, I often find it helps to print a draft and scribble edits and additions (sometimes pages worth of additions) by hand. As you say, there is a different quality of connection when writing by hand.
I don’t own a fountain pen, but I do write letters by hand. If I find myself a fountain pen, it would add a third layer of modern-day rarity to the process! Hmmmm…
Go on… Be daring :–)
Beautiful post. I have always loved handwriting….
And there are so many of us! Thanks!
Beautifully written in print, but I’m sure the original handwritten is even more so. I see it with my teenage daughter how penmanship, and the lost art of script, is being tossed aside like a rotary phone. I rememeber, when I was about to purchase a 100 year old house, I went to the local building department to see the records and purchase history. The first name on the ledger was “Hitchcock,” I forget the first, beautiful written in a script that would delight the most artful calligrapher. As the decades past, home prices increased as the quality and detail of penmanship withered. And you’re right, there was that calming, soothing influence a pen gave to thought. It tired when you tired, paused when you paused, and danced across the page when you were so inspired. A pleasure to read.
What a lovely story. Thank you for your kind words.
I love writing by hand than typing in the computer too. I’ve recently tried using fountain pens but my hand has to get used to them, the ones I have are a part of a calligraphy set I got two months ago. Writing is a truly delightful art! Lovely post 🙂
I got myself a calligraphy set last year, and designed my Christmas cards. I had fun doing it. Thank you for commenting.
I agree! I am often stuck with typing on the computer at work and I try my best to hand-write something every morning on my commute. I don’t do it often enough, but now I’m inspired to WRITE more. Great article! 🙂
So glad you liked it. Thank you!
I am a handwriter also. I feel that the time it takes for my body to convey what is on my mind, gives my mind time to edit it’s thoughts…good to know there are more of us out there. P.S I am only 29 years old.
Hurray for young people who handwrite! Power to your elbow!
Thanks for this great post. We sometimes don’t realize how different our thought processes are for typing and writing by hand. This is especially true when taking notes. I remember things so much better when I write them down. Of course people with different learning types may disagree. When I am lecturing, I always like to see my students taking notes. I know that they are getting multiple inputs of the information. Seeing, hearing and feeling the information as it flows out of the pen. I will often write out things on paper before finalizing them in a word processor. Again, the multiple inputs help me catch mistakes and help refine my thoughts.
I can relate totally. In fact, when I hesitate about the spelling of a word, I try writing it down with my eyes shut – I just know how it feels when it’s spelt correctly. Thank you for commenting.
I’ve regressed so far that my cursive is nigh illegible and I just print whenever forced to use a pen. It’s awful and troubles me. Maybe I need to make more of an effort to put pen on paper, as you have. Great post. Thank you for sharing and for bringing this to the forefront of readers’ minds.
That’s what sent me back to pen and paper, when I realized I’d gotten so out of practice my hand ached if I did much more than sign my name. The skill and comfort come back fast, though. Give it a try.
Why don’t you start playing with a pen and a notepad? Who knows what wonders might occur. Thanks for commenting.
And thank you so much for reading and commenting on it.
ChiefAaron, why don’t you start playing with a pen and a notepad? Who knows what wonders might occur. Thanks for commenting.
Our Lives have become so hectic that till date i ‘ve never pondered over my scribble.. great post .. thanks
Thank you for your visit.
I’ve kept a journal for years. Once, a few years back, I misguidedly moved it from spiral notebooks to computer. It was horrible. Now I’m happily back, pens in hand, writing in the color, font and spacing of any moment’s whim. Thanks for the reminder — I need to ask for a new fountain pen for my birthday.
I hope you get a really nice one. Thank you for commenting.
I love writing. I don’t often leave home without a pen and paper in my bag just in case. When I was at university, my house mates found it wierd that I always wrote my essays by hand first before typing them, but I could never think properly straight onto the computer. Lovely blog 🙂
Thanks. Best wishes to you.
Since I can do some Western calligraphy with steel or copper nib and painting the nib (that is the right way), I can appreciate your love for handwriting. Alas, my handwriting deterioriated over 30 yrs. ago. I actually got slightly lower grades on handwritten in-class essay tests –as voiced by several English lit. profs. in university.
Looking back, I so wished I did have a computer in those days, but personal computers were unheard of among most students. My thoughts run faster than my writing hand. So I write better with numerous editorial changes on computer.
Calligraphy to me, is an art form. So enjoy writing with your heart and brain. I feel the same way about photo editing software or Photoshop: creating a picture from scratch on such software bores the heck of me. Too linear in thinking and creating Give me the spontaneous freedom and firmness/lightness of a paintstroke on real textured paper or canvas!
It reminds me of the fun I used to have designing theatre posters (by hand). It wasn’t as satisfying for me, using computer graphics, so I stopped. Thank you for your comment.
There is nothing quite like writing in a notebook with the perfect pen! 🙂
Hubby is always baffled when I pull out my spiral-bound notebooks.
“But you have a desktop computer, a laptop and a tablet with a keyboard, but you’re still using those?!?”
While we both write, he has fully embraced technology while I cling to my pencil and paper.
Maybe that’s why it took me so long to get on WordPress?
I’ve never enjoyed fountain pens, I think they conspire to ink me. But a nice, smooth roller-ball in purple? Nice.
I usually stick with pencils due to my obsessive need to correct myself. It gets messy with pen.
Whatever suits you and your style. Thank you for commenting.
As an American, it took me a second for “A5” to click into place. But I am sure that a $3 journal and a good pen has saved me thousands of dollars in therapy.
Don’t you call them A5? I must look up your format names. Brilliant comment. Thank you.
I still use regular ballpoint pens for taking down notes for classes and stuff, but I find it easier to type stories (saves me the trouble of copying them later). However I’m sure you’re not alone in using a ballpoint or fountain pen. In fact, I think J.K. Rowling still uses pens when she writes, and look at her!
We don’t ALL have to use fountain pens. As long as you enjoy writing. Thanks for reading and commenting.
thanks for giving me something interesting to read.
And I thank you for reading it.
Yes, JK Rowling writes long-hand first – she has said that she prefers writing on paper first – helps her thoughts and I totally agree because that’s how I write too!!
As I read, I could not but smile at the simplistic joy you clearly attain from using such an instrument. If I were to use the likes of one, I might keel over from the lack of grace and rhythm. It is truly inspirational, you with your ink and paper, as I myself compose, then reassess and reword my response on my own Macbook Pro. Thank you for sharing.
Thank YOU for reading, liking and commenting :–)
Beautiful handwriting is an art and it’s nice to see! It’s sad to think that one day that art might be extinct! 😦
Let’s make sure it doesn’t! Thanks for commenting.
I love using the good ol’ pen and paper. It’s a shame that the very near future doesn’t include them, instead using voice recognition programs (such as Apple’s “Siri”, and Samsungs “S Voice”) to write. If people like yourself don’t keep writing the traditional way, it is highly possible that writing with pen and paper will unfortunately become a lost art form.
Let us organise an international hand writing week! Thank you for commenting.
January 23rd is National Handwriting Day in the U.S. http://www.wima.org/NationalHandwritingDay/tabid/79/Default.aspx
Maybe we could all work to expand it into a week long international jubilee of handwritten goodness?
I had no idea! Thank you for flagging that up. Perhaps some of us can make that happen in the UK..?
I loved the post. I can’t visualize what I want to write at all unless I am hand-writing it on paper. The feel of it is so different and gives a reality to your writing, the computer can just not give that.
Hear! Hear! Thanks for your comment.
Wonderful piece of writing. I used to write with a Parker as well back in French school but I don’t have one any longer. I’m usually too lazy to handwrite first and then type, but you’re right: words written on paper seem more tangible, directly connected to our emotions.
Your post makes me want to find one and scribble curls and spikes in a notebook 😉
Go for it! Have fun!
I love handwriting things, when I was little I used to practice over and over again! Quite proud of my writing now so it all paid off.
I feel the same, when I write my words flow from my brain right to my handwriting… Congrats for being in Freshly Pressed
Thank you! Good to know we’re not alone.
Also, recently my children show me their newly learned, newly improved cursive handwriting…and it means a lot of things to me!
That’s so lovely.
Many years ago I tried a fountain pen. Unfortunately I had formed the habit of pressing to hard when I write. The papers would end up looking like Rorschach tests. I do like to handwrite letters because I can draw little illustrations throughout the letter. I keep a notebook in my car for those days down by the breakwater for when the muse strikes. What I like about handwriting IS that it forces me to think about what it is I want to say, whereas with the computer, it’s usually speed first.
Very nice post. It gave me some good memories and caused me to slow down. (smiles)
Thank you for your kind words. Doesn’t slowing down feel good?
Yes! It definitely makes my writing more coherent.
Perfect. My necessities for work other than a laptop is a pretty notebook, a nice pen. And my thoughts are off!
I get the same odd looks when I am actually using my 8 year old slate tablet computer with a pen, and _write_ on the display… Too bad the industry hasn’t advanced the pen computing devices. Today, you can only buy finger-based crap.
Aside from the technological steps back, I fear that schools start adopting tablets (without hand writing systems), and all our future kids will suffer from that.
Well, you know what they say. If a species stops using a function then that function eventually disappears.
I remember the first time I had to write with a fountain pen (technically a cartridge pen). I had just moved to England from the States, where I was used to writing with a ballpoint. I was 10 years old, and when the teacher said, “boys, take out your pens,” I dutifully took out my Bic. The teacher looked at me strangely and said, “Not a biro, a pen. I looked around and all the other boys had fountain pens. Luckily, my desk mate had a spare, and leant me it. I had no idea how to write with it, and ended up using the noob move of writing with the point upside-down. I eventually learned how to use it properly, and have always loved using it.
Thanks for bringing that story to mind.
Well, I also first went to an American school, where we used biros, then was parachuted into a French primary school where we had desks with ink-wells, full of thick, lumpy, dark purple ink. We were handed scratchy, communal use quills which squirted ink all over your page if you weren’t careful. thank you for commenting.
Also my friend good writer he make hand write first then transfer to computer, he said he make comfortable in handwriting create more ideas.
I know just what he means.
Yes!!! I can totally relate to your post! I’ve noticed that the beauty of handwritten notes and such have become lost over this new generation of typing, so I try and make an effort to write most things by hand when I can. Lovely thoughts and congrats on being freshly pressed 🙂
Thank you very much!
I treasure my collection of hand written thoughts, they are my most intimate ramblings. Lovely post!
I know what you mean. Thank you.
Going back to old notes I’m always surprised how beautiful my handwriting used to be. My client notes today are hardly legible, and entirely reflect my mood. The only other place I still handwrite is in my hammock or when I travel. One of my treasures is an evenly handwritten diary my father wrote during the first year of my life, more than words are communicated.
You evocative piece makes me want to take up my fountain pen again – I use green ink.
Thank you! Now go and get a bottle of green ink, a notepad… and happy scribbling! :–)
With your “little” problem with your novel, what about you hand-write a sentence, type, hand-write, type, getting my point? or you could do it a page at a time or a chapter at a time. Good luck!
Thanks for the tip. I may well try that.
(It’s the reverse for me. I have to type a lot ’cause nobody can read my handwriting) 😦
I used to have beautiful handwriting but have since developed ‘doctor’s’ scrawl and sometimes have difficulty understanding any of it. One woman looking over my shoulder asked if I was writing in Arabic! People are intrigued though if you start using a pen and paper.
Perhaps it’s time you started indulging in writing just one side of A5 a day, taking the time to form the letters and enjoying the process. Thank you for reading and commenting :–)
Harry Moonbeam and I have the same problem: I can no longer write well enough when I am thinking rapidly to read my own handwriting. I have real trouble with this, because sometimes I have so much to say (the pressures of being wordy) that I go ahead and scrawl it all out anyway, only to have to re-invent later what I was trying to say in other words because I simply can’t decipher my (no doubt genius!–if only I knew) writing. But I agree with you too, I write everything out by hand first when I work on my novels, poetry, short stories. E-mails and comments on blogs are the main things I write out on the computer these days, and sometimes even e-mails get a first draft. Any suggestions?
Whatever works for you. I find that when I write (even by hand) too fast, I have to cross out and correct a lot. Whereas when I fall into a steady, gentle rhythm, I have to edit less. Saves time in the long run becauseI find I write what I really mean to write the first time ’round, then. Doesn’t work so well 100% of the time, but I’d say in the majority of cases. Good luck!
It always sucks when you write something and then have trouble deciphering it later. Happens to me all the time — but my writing looks beautiful, even if it isn’t terribly legible.
My handwriting has always been terrible, although I use it a lot for impulsive note-taking. I’m actually planning on taking up Arabic soon, so maybe it’ll come naturally to me…
Good luck with it! Thanks for commenting.
Wonderfully done Katia! And so true!
Thank you, Anna. I am so glad you agree!
Excellent insight! In a era where handwriting is near extinct, its good to know some people still have a passion for it 🙂
Yippee for us! Thank you for commenting.
Thank you, tarapatterson.