The Real Reason a Great Writer Needs the Perfect Pen

Image by Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay from Pixabay

It happens to me every flipping year. School supplies come out, and there, somewhere between the Sharpies and zippered plush pencil pouches, I melt faster than the Wicked Witch of the West. I cognitively understand that I already own dozens of writing utensils. Yet…well, away goes my resolve and money, and home the new package comes.

I’m not the only writer, I’m sure, who does this. But why do we do it? Why do we get so obsessed?

Because as silly as it might sound, writing utensils aren’t just functional. At least to me, they all have an individual feel. An aesthetic. It comes not only from elements like color or weight, but from the way it flows, the way its dance is coordinated with fresh whiteness of the blank page.

Why is this feeling so important? Because for a writer, feelings shut or open the door of creativity. As buzzy as it might sound, we need a sense of psychological safety to let our guard down enough to let the story flow more freely out of us. To try new structures or word choices, to listen to our own pace and lean into the next paragraph. To even have the courage to start the story at all.

As many writers will tell you, when you do find the perfect pen or pencil, it feels like it chose you the same way Harry Potter’s wand chose him. The rush of surety and power and confidence flows from your fingertips, and you glow with the light of a new wholeness.

Like Harry, we browse. We try different ones out. Some of them might be pleasurable for a time, if our mood is conducive to it. But most of them lack the consistency to be named our pen, the pen, the one that we will turn to over and over again over all others, and that we will mourn when at last it fails. We get excited in the search, even so, because we know there is the potential to find the one that will choose us.

So when you go looking for a specific pen you “have” to have to outline or draft or edit, don’t feel silly. It’s not all in your imagination. Or, if you see a writer friend do it, don’t tease. The pen really does change how you feel, and when you change how you feel, the entire process–and importantly, the result of that process–is different. Take the time to find your ideal match, because your readers will thank you for it.