I Like to Write

Yep! There can be no doubt about it—I like to write.

IMGP2681-Cropped-SmallI am not just talking about sitting at a computer and punching away at a keyboard, although I enjoy that as well. I am talking about actually writing with a pen.

At right you can see one of two pages of initial notes I made for this posting. My writing goes across the page at about 45 degrees because I am writing with the notebook balanced on my knee while watching television. Little cues that come from something on television are often the seeds for my postings.

In this case I was watching something—I honestly forget what it was—and someone in the show said that the Chinese have a saying: The faintest ink is better than the best memory. I jotted this down at the very top of the page. But then it occurred to be that I love writing and that a short posting about that might be fun to craft up; and I started to put some ideas together for it there and then.

IMGP2683-Cropped-SmallI have used and had many favourite pens over the years. The picture at left shows one of my three containers of pre-loved pens.

I have tried fountain pens, rolling ball ‘wet’ ink pens, gel pens, and felt tipped pens. But even though I might use one of these other types of pens for many months at a time I have always ended up coming back to the good old ‘standard’ ball point pen (a.k.a. the biro).

I have also purchased and used almost every commonly available brand of pen including Parker, Sheaffer, Lamy, Cross, Diplomat, Rotring, and Waterman. One brand I have never tried is Montblanc.

My current favourite make of pen, and it has been for 15 or more years now, is Cross. I still have the first Cross pen I bought. Following is a picture of it. It’s getting pretty worn but it is still one of my favourite Cross pens.

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I am sure pen experts have many ways to talk about the feel and use of a pen but in my opinion there are three main factors affecting how much I like a pen: the weight/balance; the diameter; and the ink cartridge (or refill)—how the ink flows.

The ink cartridge is key. With my Cross pens I have tried numerous third party compatible refills but none of the compatible refills are anywhere near as smooth running or have the pleasing colour (blue) of the genuine Cross refill. However because retailers want to sell more refills and like the larger mark-ups they get from the non-genuine refills they mostly only stock the compatible refills. It is actually quite a challenge in Perth Australia to hunt down genuine Cross medium blue refills. Usually when I find someone who has stock of them I buy five or six or more.

When I go to meetings, and I attend a lot of meetings in my work as an IT consultant, I take lots of written notes. Often two or three pages. Generally during a meeting I am jotting things down for the whole time of the meeting. This is not because I find so much of the meeting content to be that riveting but I discovered a long time ago that a very good way to make something stick in my memory for a while is to write it down; or even better to draw a quick schematic or picture relating to it. Even if I never look at the notes again, just the act of writing them down during the meeting seems to ‘load’ them into my memory.

Interestingly, on those occasions when I have taken a notebook into a meeting and keyed up meeting notes I find that the content does not become sticky in my memory. For me, maybe for everyone, when it comes to remembering things there is something different about actually writing something down compared to keying it into Word or OneNote using a computer.

As a closing example of how much I liked to write even when I was younger, way back when I first moved to Perth (I was about 23) my girlfriend, who later became my wife, still lived back in my home town. I wrote to her every couple of weeks. These were handwritten letters of 30 to 40 pages written back and front. I had to use full-width business envelopes to send the letters to her because they could not be folded to fit into a standard half-width envelope.

BarryMark