In a podcast I listened to yesterday, I learned that Neil Gaiman writes his novels with a fountain pen. This was a revelation for me. A lightbulb went off. I am trying it right now!

I’m sitting in a cafe, coffee in front of me, my notebook and fountain pen at my disposal. I will follow the master and write by hand.

There is magic in making deliberate strokes.

I write to think, and the way I think with a real pen and paper is very different from the way I think when I write on a computer.

On a computer, it is hard to keep up. As I type very fast, my thoughts are quicker. I rush. I feel the need to be productive. I want to get this done. This being the task at hand ... whatever it is. As if I can’t wait to get away and be done.

Writing by hand, especially on my favourite paper of all times, and with my favourite fountain pen, feels good. Not just good. It is heaven! Words flow effortless from my mind onto the page. I merely play the role of an observer. It is a nice, relaxing speed. Everything is in the right place.

I’ve been writing with fountain pen for a long time, but only in the past year have I really let myself fall into the rabbit hole of fountain pens. And I don’t regret it. I love it.

I found my happy place.

However, I never even considered writing my a articles, blog posts and so on by hand! And why would I? It seems like a waste of time.

However, now, in the age of generative AI, at a time when everyone can word vomit mountains of content, it feels right. It feels this is the right thing to do.

Taking a step back, I ask myself what makes writing fun for me and what is in it it for me?

Generating content using ChatGPT or any other large language model is not fun. What makes writing fun is the process of being in a state of flow. Seeing words appear on the page, dripping from my unconsciousness. That feeling is what I treasure, want to keep and not loose.

In the podcast, Neil Gaiman said he allows himself to do absolutely nothing or write.

I have started writing morning pages, religiously for a few months now. And I follow a similar rule. Every morning I write 3 pages. I can stop and do nothing or I am finishing my pages. I firmly believe this is magic.

This is what led me to the decision to focus on my writing. To dare to write in public. Publish what I write under my real name. It helped me find my voice. Or be closer to finding it.

However there was always effort involved to get myself to sit in front of a screen and start writing.

I use computers all day for work, so that might be reason. But I never even had the idea to write my articles by hand!

Now that I am doing it, and writing the second page, I feel home. I feel this was the missing link.

Right now I am writing in one of my favourite notebooks. It is a 520 page A5 Tomoe River notebook with gilded edges. My fountain point also has gold elements and a golden nib. It feels fancy. It feels like my words and thoughts are more valuable than when they are on a computer.

After over 500 words and one page I can confirm, Neil Gaiman is onto something. Of course he is!

Naturally, the productivity freak in me is concerned about how many words i can get on paper this way. I actually measured that I can write 2.5k words on a computer per hour. By hand it is half of that.

However it feels much nicer and more natural this way. I still have to enter it in a computer as does Neil Gaiman. He uses this actually as his second draft. He also mentioned that if he writes the first draft on a computer and edits it, removing a page feels like he lost work when doing the second draft. While if he writes it by hand and enters it on a computer, skipping a page means he saves himself work. I love this way of thinking. Isn’t that pure writer’s wisdom?

40 minutes have now passed. I’m writing and I am happy. I really think I am onto something here.

Will I publish this?

I have no idea. Will I enter it on the computer and edit it? Probably.

Another thought that just popped into my head is, that I am not sure if I write differently when I am thinking I will publish it in comparison to writing for myself.

I want to be able to write freely, like I don’t have someone reading it. I think writing by hand is the only way I will be able to achieve this. I want my style, my voice to be just as if I am writing in my personal journal. That is scary, but scary is good!

Scary means I am onto something. Feeling uncomfortable means growth and improvement.

So what does that leave me with? What is success?

Once I entered it on a computer, edited it and then published it, as raw and unchanged as I can, fearlessly ignoring my worst enemy, my inner critic, that is success.

If you are reading this, the experiment has been a success.

Tagged in:


Last Update: December 02, 2023