On pens and writing

ink pens writing

I have decided to resurrect my ink pens, which have been a bit neglected of late. Instead, I’ve taken the easy option and used Uni-ball Eye Fine pens, which are pretty good and very easy to write with, but they aren’t ink pens.

There’s something special about writing long hand. It’s massively inefficient. You’d think it would have become extinct in the age of the laptop and iPad.

But it is an aesthetic choice.

As is buying Moleskine or Rhodia notebooks. They’re expensive, at about £15 a pop, for what is essentially blank paper. You could get a notebook that would do the same job for less than a tenth of the price. Couple that with ink pens that are inconvenient and potentially messy, and you are choosing the road less travelled.

But consider music consumption. Vinyl is inconvenient, and should be extinct. It’s just daft to buy vinyl, but vinyl sales are booming. It’s not just for dudes going through mid-life crises.

My point? People like to make aesthetic choices, and this includes writers. In an age where many wine writers are jumping straight to the laptop to bang out as many tasting notes as possible, there’s something to be said for writing long hand, pen on nice paper. It changes the way you write, I reckon.

We live in a media age where we struggle with a tsunami of information, where everyone is a writer. Professional writers are afraid of being lost in the crowd, and the temptation for them is to bank out more output in a bid to stay relevant and corner a larger slice of the market.

But could it be that the answer is to produce less, but better? Could changing the medium from laptop to longhand producer better output?

I use my laptop for tasting notes, sometimes. But tasting notes are just tasting notes. The world probably doesn’t need too many more of them. Competition has resulted in vast numbers of tasting notes being published, and also score creep. Like a drug addict who needs an ever increasing dose to feel the same high, the consumers of scores need ever greater scores. Yet the limit is 100. It will soon be reached, to the point that wines will be judged on a binary score: 99 (fail); 100 (succeed).

Could ink and decent paper be the answer?

6 comments to On pens and writing

  • Yes indeed. There is something about putting pen to paper (though if I tried to describe it, then it would sound as pretentious as one of those tasting notes we see too many of).

    A few years ago I lost my Mont Blanc. It had been a cherished gift and had become a true companion, following me around the world. One day, after a little wine, I left it on the table in a restaurant we both know. It wasn’t handed in. I have never been able to justify replacing it, but it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever owned. It made me think about what I wrote, which you can see is not the case when typing on my phone.

    That’s all just waffle for saying yes, bring back pen and paper, and vinyl (new deck on order) too.

  • Maybe time to drop the scores then?

  • Philip

    This is really interesting – I am 30 and sit in meetings with a Moleskin and Pen and my manager who is 50 takes notes on his IPAD….interesting how different ages adopt technology compared to perceptions.

  • James

    Love fountain pens and wrote and passed MW tasting exams with Mont Blanc Meisterstuck……but now use iPad for note taking in business meetings via one note. Miss Mont Blanc and also Lamy’s that I also like, but equally feel quite free from them and the worry of losing them through transition to iPad

  • I never made the transition from pen & paper to digital writing successfully. Now I happily combine both and enjoy writing longhand, using beautiful notepaper and cards for different occasions. This season I reverted to the old custom of sending out Christmas cards by post!

  • When I joined the retail wine business in 1990, I started taking notes with a steno pad in my back pocket before graduating to a Palm Pilot and stylus in 1999 (insane) finally directly entering notes into a spreadsheet beginning in 2005 simply because there was no time for anything else. That was until I accidentally spilled a glass of wine on the laptop and lost all of my note production for an offer. Since 2008 I use 100 page rigid cover notebooks I buy 10 at a time on Amazon written with blue Pilot Precise V5 rolling ball. They come from the same producer that does the Napa Valley Vintners note books. I find writing this way is more reflective and intimate. It does take longer to compile and transcribe once I sit down to publish. Each book has its own personality after I am finished with it. Cards stapled inside, wine drips, secondary impressions, smashed fruit flies and doodles that would never exist in purely electronic form.

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