All writers used to sit down to write armed with only a pen and paper. This method has changed drastically with the advent of typing and computers and it’s becoming more and more rare to see handwriting. So we asked six writers why they prefer to use these analog tools in our digital age.
I’m Elizabeth Bear, and I’m an award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer with dozens of novels and short stories in print.
I grew up using fountain pens–my family is old school, I guess–and in my career and daily life I still use them for just about everything from writing checks to drafting copy. I like them for their aesthetics: fountain pens help make work fun and satisfying. Using them is a reward in itself, and when you work for yourself without external management, motivation is important! Also, fountain pens are easy on the hand for long writing sessions. The tactile experience helps keep me going–as does the opportunity to play with so many pretty inks.
Fountain pens also make me feel connected to a long line of writers and artists who have worked in ink, and in so doing, give me a nice sense of permanence and relevance. Must of my work involves sitting alone in a room making things up. A nice pen is very grounding!
My name is Vesta Giles and I’m a screenwriter in Kamloops, BC, Canada. I started using fountain pens a few years ago after being afraid of them for a long time. It was instant love once I tried them. I make all of my notes by hand and transfer them to the computer once I know where they’re going. I have a LAMY Safari and an AL-Star plus a Monteverde Impressa for most writing and then a Pilot Metropolitan (fine) which has red ink and is perfect for editing. There is something about the flow of the ink, the amazing colors that push off the page, and the way I slow down and get into a rhythm that doesn’t happen when I type. I’m much less likely to edit and backspace with fountain pens. The words have longer to settle and I don’t judge them as quickly.
Lately, I’ve moved back to handwriting first drafts. I find that pen-to-paper has a different rhythm for me. There is something joyful about the words appearing on the paper in front of my eyes — of having the pages count up, physically. I love that I can annotate and draw big arrows on my manuscript as I go. An electronic word count is quite satisfying to have at the end of a day’s writing but so are pages and pages of handwritten notes.
I guess it is slightly ironic that I am often writing about new and emerging technologies and that I do this using a vast array of fountain pens and colourful inks, but my work analyzes how the layers of the new are set upon the foundations of time-honoured wisdom. Fountain pens and inks are wise technology — like good ideas and carefully considered truths, they endure.
Writing is my lifelong art, my craft of choice to master, and it’s also the primary means of communicating with my worldwide audience.
With all of this importance placed upon the words I produce, it’s key that I derive joy from my daily task of putting words on the page.
My writing always begins with a fountain pen from Goulet Pens–in fact, I wrote my entire bestselling book using the Edison Nouveau Premiere–because the beauty of the pens, and the ritual of writing with them, elevate the experience of creating from a potentially procrastinated-upon to-do to an enjoyable ritual.
A friend told me many years ago that one of the most important things you can do to accomplish any task well is to have the right tools. Even as a left-hander, my fountain pens are those key tools for me, because they engender inspiration and bring pleasure to an integral part of my life and business.
Plus, as an entrepreneur myself, I LOVE knowing that I’m supporting a family-owned business with mine.
Aliette de Bodard
My name is Aliette de Bodard and I’m a writer of science fiction and fantasy. I learnt to write with fountain pens as a child but put mine away after I left university. Last year, after a dry spell of being unable to write, I reconnected with that love and discovered the world of bottled inks, and it’s been such good writing practice.
For me, the act of using a fountain pen is visceral and soothing. I love feeling the bite of the nib on paper. Writing things down has been super useful: I brainstorm, or take notes while writing a scene on my computer. I find in both cases using the fountain pen will unlock new ideas for me to work with. I also doodle: I will totally draw little diagrams of what a scene looks like and where my characters are!
As a researcher, professor, and blogger, writing is my life. It helps me crystalize my ideas and communicate my thoughts to others. The way I write at any point in the process is deeply personal and reflects where I am in my thinking. Fountain pens are invaluable to me in two types of writing: writing to learn and writing for publication. They bring pleasure to my work and help slow me down enough that I can think deeply instead of just fast.
As my work moves from expanding and developing ideas to communicating them, I’ll move to my computer and work through elaborate outlines, continuing to expand them until the outline disappears and I have almost finished prose. I can write on the computer but I can’t do my final editing there. I need to print it out and read it out loud – or at least under my breath. The pens come out again. While editing, I almost always work in a fine tipped fountain pen – often in a bright Wild Strawberry ink or that cheery Varsity red.
Hear more from Nancy Darling: Blog
What do you enjoy about writing with fountain pens?
The Goulet Pen Company Team