Technology for writing: for National Stationery Week (I)
The week beginning 25 April is, in the UK at least, National Stationery Week (#natstatweek). Wednesday is, I believe, World Stationery Day (#WorldStationeryDay). So here’s what is planned as the first post of a mini-series on writing.
Marketing types — and innovation researchers — sometimes seek to classify consumers according to the speed with which they adopt products. There are early adopters, laggards, and so on.
I find the category I fall into depends on the market. And, in the technology market, my category depends on the actual product. When it comes to Satnavs, I’m a laggard — and barely even that. For smartphones and Facebook, I’m an early rejector, if there is such a category.
But when it comes to word-processing, I was a fairly early adopter. Certainly when I bought my first word-processor, none of my friends (bar one) had one; many had never used one; some didn’t know what a word-processor was.
I can still remember the marvel of the advantages that the machine brought, relative to typewriters. You could start anywhere you liked; you could edit; and you could, to an extent, design text. I’ll never take such functions for granted.
Over the last few years, however, I’ve rowed back from word-processing a little. The word-processor (I know the word sounds already sounds antiquated, but I like the way it encompasses both laptop and desktop) still forms a staple piece of equipment in my working life — of course it does.
But alongside it I’ve built a little collection of fountain pens – one for each colour of ink.
- Pens are easy and quick to use (no booting up, no passwords) and can be inexpensive.
- Writing depends on flow, as does thinking. Ink flows. Ergo, ink is a good medium for thought and for writing.
- Pens suit the psychology of early-stage writing. Writing produced by hand — especially on non-premium surfaces (think banks of envelopes) doesn’t look professional. Because it doesn’t look professional, the mind is more prepared to accept the writing as provisional. That gives the author permission to write badly — in the basis that the draft is nothing more than a first attempt, awaiting refinement. This provisionality makes us sympathetic to amendments — crossings out, additions, corrections, and so on.the man
- Handwriting creates a personal touch, lending character to a text. I’ve even experimented with handwriting letters, then scanning them and sending them as attachments.
So the latest ‘innovation’ in my writing technology portfolio is a Caran d’Ache Madison Cisele fountain pen. My only luxury pen, it has a gold nib. Is this anything more than decorative? Yes, as salesman at Pens Plus in Oxford demonstrated to me: the nib is wonderfully soft and floats across the page.
The pen has become my number one productivity tool, unleashing a flow of ones from me especially at times when I’ve really had enough of sitting at my desk tapping away.