Neil Gaiman and Writing by Hand and Fountain Pens

WatermanI have tried once, but not seriously, to write a story by hand. It didn’t work for me. I do not include the attempts made during my youth when I first started writing, when times were different and my mind drifted in different places, when life seemed far less complicated. The irony is I love writing by hand. Always have. I remember in school I used to jump between different styles, later settling on three which I used interchangeably, depending on my mood and laziness of hand.

Until I reached law school. Everything changed then. The sheer volume of notes and information I had to record forced me into a style that was both easy to maintain and practical for use over long periods of time.

Funny enough, it was a fountain pen that helped me find my true handwriting. I still have it. The pen that is.  It’s a silver Waterman and it served me well in my law practice where I used it everyday. I took notes during interviews with clients,  wrote questions and answers during hearings and cross-examinations. I’ve had this pen for almost fifteen years now. It’s the one above.

I haven’t used it in a long while, though, mostly because I type my stories and the notes I make and plotting I do–if any at all–I do with cheap pens. I should actually consider another attempt at writing fiction using only my Waterman.

It writes smoothly and glides over the page, and there is no traction when you do fast writing. The thing about a fountain pen’s nip is that over time it gets honed to the writer’s style of writing. If you use a different handwriting, you’ll feel the nip scratch the paper and that is why a lot of people don’t like using the pen. They think it uncomfortable.

I have a few fountain pens in my collection. I’ve also the very first one I ever bought. A black Parker. The plastic of the barrel worn dull now, has a slight reddish, rust-colored tint to it and a fine crack is visible where it screws into the nib assembly. Every now and then I might get an urge and refill it and use it in my journals. The same with the Waterman. I should pay them more respect, though. They came through harsh times with me and survived.

You’re probably wondering why I chose to write about fountain pens today. I found an article where Neil Gaiman talks about writing by hand and about fountain pens and about fiction, and that got my own thoughts going on the subject. Gaiman enjoys writing his stories by hand. He writes his first draft in a journal with a fountain pen. After that he types it up. He loves how the story develops when he writes it with a fountain pen. To him it feels like playing while typing feels like work. On a whim he wrote Stardust by hand. That hooked him.

I still love writing by hand. I really enjoy it. I don’t do it as often as I should, but then I do use my notebooks and journals.

I guess it’s not the same thing.

Cheers!

Woelf

9 thoughts on “Neil Gaiman and Writing by Hand and Fountain Pens

  1. Great post 🙂 I love writing by hand and mostly do it so. In fact I kinda hate typing (maybe because I can’t type fast enough) though I guess even if I could I’d still prefer using pen and paper. Like you I have a few styles of handwriting that appear due to my mood and colors I write with change too. I have a few fountain pens too but our relationships were never long enough.
    There’s something magic for me in the way of writing itself… not only how words appear in your head and are drawn on the paper next second but then when you finished – reading, seeing it, feeling… looking through old and new writing seeing certain evolving in both style of writing and handwriting… recalling moods.
    I guess I’ll never lose my love for writing by hand… Thanks for this post which took me away to the sweet memories 🙂

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comment. Writing by hand can be magical, especially if the hand is willing and your eyes feel pleased by the lines and contours you’re creating. Then there are days where none of the handwriting works, where it feels a burden, and you just want to finish. A fountain pen, in my opinion, guarantees a joyful experience.

      I love typing, too. I’ve been doing it so long I type relatively fast and I enjoy the tactile experience. Like with pens, I enjoy only a certain kind of keyboard where the keys are low and flat.

      Thanks again for commenting.

  2. I’ve moved back to writing by hand during the last month because I found that I was feeling very restricted when typing. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much fun I’m having and how liberating it has been in addition to my writing being better.

    1. At times, writing by hand can feel like you’re cutting out the middleman. Maybe that is what hooked Gaiman. There’s maybe a naturalness to how the story develops, and writing by hand makes the process more intimate.

  3. I do most of my writing by hand. I write the first draft of short stories and articles by hand, while I type the first draft of novels. Then I do every single rewrite and revising by hand.
    I don’t know, I feel like I focus a lot better when I write with a pen (or a pencil, I mostly use mechanical pencils). I get completely inside the story in a deeper way.
    I don’t know whether I’m just imaginign it, but that’s how I feel 🙂

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