My Analogue Writing Tools

I wrote the first few chapters of my first novel longhand, with fountain pen on loose sheets of A4 tomoe river paper. As I realized that I would have to type everything into Scrivener before I could even start editing, the lazy programmer within me balked. It was fine doing this with quick drafts, but writing an entire novel longhand was not for me.

I still use pen, pencil and paper a lot in my writing though. I use a fountain pen (anything that doesn’t have a flex or novelty nib will do — from extra-fine to 1.1mm stubs) and loose sheets of A4 and A5 tomoe river paper to work on my outlines, for quick drafts, to test plot options out, or when I’m really, really stuck in my writing. A Field Notes Byline is constantly under my keyboard, horizontally. Yes, I know that the lines don’t go that way, but I ignore them. The form factor is perfect for that, and the ruling is pale enough for me to easily ignore it. I use a Blackwing 16.2 or 24 with it, to quickly capture any ideas that may come up during my writing, to remind myself where I was going with an idea or what I need to fix a previous place, to brainstorm names, etc. It serves as a scratch pad that allows me to maintain my writing flow and still remember things along the way.

Messy, messy handwriting, because getting things down on paper is more important to me then keeping them pretty. 

So, even if you do all your writing using Ulysses or Scrivener (hopefully not Word), I recommend that you incorporate some analogue tools in your process. You’re bound to find them useful, particularly when you’re stuck or you’ve dug yourself into a hole.

Advertisements
My Analogue Writing Tools

TWSBI GO and J Herbin Caroube de Chypre Ink Review

I’ve tried shimmering fountain pen inks (inks with little sparkly bits in them) only once before, when J Herbin first started producing them, and they ruined a Lamy Safari pen and converter with their non-removable sparkle. Over time more and more reviews came out lauding these pretty, shiny inks and saying that they’re completely fountain pen friendly nowadays, yet I kept my distance. No amount of glitter was worth another ruined pen, after all.

Enter the TWSBI GO, which is a a TWSBI nib connected to a toy pen that is so cheap that it practically has “Bay State Blue ready” written on it (I still don’t recommend going anywhere near the stainiest of stainy inks, no matter how gorgeous it is).

The packaging is bewilderingly good for such a cheap fountain pen. A cardboard sleeve over a plastic box that puts the cardboard Lamy Safari packaging (and price point) to shame.

Cardboard sleeve with TWSBI logo
Solid plastic box for the pen. I’m not a packaging person, but this is disproportionally good for the price.

Then you open the box, and laugh. The pen looks and feels like a child’s toy, with its cheap feeling plastic, its light weight and ridiculous spring filling mechanism. It takes the ugly duckling bit a step beyond what even other TWSBI functional but ugly pens, like the ECO, have.

Ugly.

But then you start to write with it, and the silly little body has good ink capacity, is easy to fill, and most importantly, it has a TWSBI nib. TWSBI nibs are phenomenally good for the price, and they come in 1.1 stub sizes, which are super fun to use.

Here’s a writing sample with a TWSBI GO 1.1 stub, which I did late at night when I was pretty tired, and so I spelled TWSBI phonetically, so whoopsie.

The ink is J Herbin’s Caroube de Chypre, which I had bought but not yet used. It’s a light, coffee brown ink with a medium amount of shading and some gold sparkle that is just-impossible-to-photograph-unless-you-pour-half-a-bottle-of-the-stuff-on-the-page-so-you’re-going-to-have-to-trust-me-on-this-it-is-pretty.

Writing sample.

Can you get away with using this ink in a work setting? I believe you can, since the colour itself is pretty tame and the sparkle isn’t in your face, but just glints in the light in certain angles.

img_5626.jpg
This photographed darker than it appears in reality, but is shows some of the depth of shading that you can expect to see with this ink.
img_5627.jpg
Ugly pen, ugly handwriting, pretty ink.
TWSBI logo on the cap.
The nib, which is the main reason to buy this pen.
Pen grip and pen feed, with ink capacity on display.

The pen itself is a paragon of practicality: super light, super comfortable grip, good ink capacity, excellent nib and feed, easy to use filling mechanism. For less than $20 that’s a tremendous feat on TWSBI’s part and it makes this pen a “no-brainer”. Whether you’re a beginner or a hardened collector, you should have at least one of these in your pen case. It’s a great workhorse, good for experimenting with “dangerous” inks (keep well away from Bay State Blue, yes you, I’m talking to you. I can see what’s in your shopping cart), good as a loaner pen to get more people into the wonderful world of fountain pens, and even good for people experimenting with nib grinds. In the beginner fountain pen category it is uglier than even the platinum preppy, but when it comes to bang for your buck, this pen puts all others to shame.

 

TWSBI GO and J Herbin Caroube de Chypre Ink Review

Ink Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Asa Gao

Though I’m a fan of the colour blue, I tend to shy away from blue inks, since they tend to be boring. That’s why I wouldn’t have splurged on a (pretty expensive) bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Asa Gao myself – I got it as a gift with a pen purchase a few years ago.

Online pictures of this ink tend to give it a more purplish tint than it actually has. In reality it’s a slightly dark cobalt blue. It scanned a bit lighter than it looks like on the page:

Asa Gao

Here it is in natural light, for a bit of reference (this is bit darker than it actually is):

This is the pen I used for this review, a medium nib Pelikan M620 Place de la Concorde:

There’s some red sheen to it, but you’ll probably only see it on Tomoe River Paper, and then only if you look closely. The shading is a little less subtle, but not by much. You’ll see a bit of it using medium nibs and broader, again, particularly on Tomoe River Paper. It’s a “dirty little secret” ink – the kind that looks pedestrian to all but the knowledgable observer. A fun way to put a zing into office work, as it is totally appropriate for office writing.

As usual with Pilot Iroshizuku inks, the bottle and packaging is gorgeous, the ink is well behaved enough for vintage pens, and it cleans out pretty easily without staining. A good choice for a demonstrator pen, if you’re looking for something that will fly under the radar.

Ink Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Asa Gao