Blogger: Wendy Lawton
If you’ve spent any time around me, you’ve undoubtedly seen me holding a marbled black Waterman Phineas fountain pen. I work better when it is in my hand. I think better when I’m holding it. Ideas flow on paper (good quality paper, I might add) when I put my pen to the task. I once took my pen to San Francisco to let my friend and client, Roger Huang, sign his contract with it and [horror] I inadvertently left it there. Roger graciously had it express mailed to me but I was lost for almost 48 hours.
I’ve been thinking about the art of handwriting lately. I’m teaching a three-session how-to workshop at church that involves spiritual journaling. We spent part of the first session talking about journals, pens and paper. The equipment needs that can nurture the soul. The act of gathering the tools is in itself an adventure. It was fun to watch a roomful of potential writers rediscover the pen.
None of us would want to give up our computers. They’ve offered so many shortcuts and such productive output, but when I look back to the writers in pre-computer days, even in pre-typewriter days, there is much to be said about the pen. Did you know that Charles Dickens always insisted on blue ink? Not an aesthetic preference, he believed blue ink dried fastest. I found that bit of trivia plus much more in the blog post for the book, Odd Type Writers by Celia Blue Johnson. Pop over there and see what a Dickens manuscript page looked like. Fascinating.
Over the years I’ve loved watching author Robert Benson autograph books. First he takes out his fountain pen and signs his name along with the word namasté, and then he brings out colored pencils to create a cipher on the page. The reader receiving his signature feels as if he has been given a gift.
What is it about handwriting? An article in Psychology Today states that, “When directing the writing by hand, the brain has to visually track rapidly changing positions of the pencil and control hand and finger movements. To learn such skills, the brain must improve its control over eye-movement saccades and the processing of visual feedback to provide corrective feedback. Both tracking and movement control require much more engagement of neural resources in producing cursive or related handwriting methods than in hand printing, because the movements are more complex and nuanced. Thus, learning cursive is a much greater neural activator, which in turn must engage much more neural circuitry than the less demanding printing.” Got that? Pen and ink and cursive writing engages the brain more effectively than printing. I’m going to take it one step further and posit that it draws on different functions of the brain than keyboarding.
What does that have to do with us as writers? I’ve found that when I’m stuck or creatively stymied, taking out a sheet of paper and using my beloved Waterman pen to work out ideas taps into a different part of my creativity. I’ve been studying mind mapping as a technique and it relies heavily on the act of writing, even to writing in color. Studies have shown that it unleashes the mappers creativity and allows the practitioner to find new patterns and links–not a bad skill if you are a writer.
So as a pen and ink aficionado, I’m encouraging you to find the perfect writing implement (or if you are like me, implements) and rediscover the pen.
Question: Do you enjoy the old fashion skill of cursive writing? How about the relatively new field of mind mapping? What kind of writing implement is your choice?
Unleash your creativity. Rediscover the pen says literary agent @wendylawton Click to Tweet
Pen and ink may be just the tool a writer needs to tap into creativity. Click to Tweet