In Defense of Pen & Paper: A freewrite in which I complain about technology

Sometimes when I don’t know what to write about, or when what I have planned to write about seems entirely uninteresting, I grab my fountain pen and yellow legal pad and start writing.

I like the juxtaposition of the two. The legal pad frees me to write openly, on a whim. I’m just throwing down thoughts and ideas on a cheap notepad. But I’m using a fancy fountain pen, so automatically what I’m writing has a particular weight behind it. There’s a measure of class, sophistication, a certain authority that accompanies words written with a fountain pen.

So I sit down and start writing my self-assured drivel on a yellow legal pad. The idea is to spark some specific direction. I hope that, if I keep writing, eventually I will stumble upon a spark of insight worthy of my time (and yours). A golden nugget of truth that may carry some deeper resonance within the soul of humanity. Some scrap of content that isn’t pure shit.

And there’s something about writing by hand that helps me. I strip away all the barriers and distractions when I choose longhand. It’s just me, my pen, and the paper. It’s pure. It’s elemental. It’s romantic. It’s an essential creation in it’s most basic form.

Technology is good and all, but sometimes it can get in the way. Technology assumes speed and volume. It implies that I want to create a lot quickly. Technology enables me to do more, say more, think more, be more, all in a compressed, efficient amount of time.

But do I want all of that more, I wonder? Maybe. But perhaps all of the MORE only leads me to the assumption that anything less is not enough.

I don’t know about you, but I am easily exhausted. The continual drive to meet the need of technology’s invitation is tiring. Not to mention stressful. Speed isn’t the only thing technology ramps up; it also amplifies competition and comparison.

When I’m trying to create something; or even just trying to live my life (which is inevitably a creative act), the last thing I need is someone or something else with which to compare myself. After all, when I’m comparing my work (or my self) to that of another, all I’m really doing is assessing myself based on unrealistic expectations.

So I need my fountain pen and yellow legal pad. There’s no judgment here. The only comparison to make is one ink color over another (I’m currently using a lovely shade of blue); which size notepad that is best (11in, college-ruled).

I’m not anti-technology; really, I’m not. I’m anti-speed. I’m anti-comparison. If I can’t be content with what I can create at the speed of ink on paper, then the fact of the matter is whether or not I performed quickly, efficiently, or effectively enough is the least of my worries.

No, I need my pen and paper to help me remember that what I’m writing, what I’m doing right here and now, is enough. It is entirely right.

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