Notebooks and pens and cramps, oh my!

Purple V5 Pilot Precise and a Moleskine notebook

One of my favorite ways of writing is the notebook. There’s a few reasons for this; primarily, it’s because when I write at my computer, my ADD kicks in and there are a million things that need to be done. I need to check NaNoWriMo forums, or my email, or a chat window pops up from a friend or client, or… any of a million things.

Notebooks take me away from all that. I can curl up on the couch, pop in some earbuds, tuck my feet under my butt, and write more or less distraction free. If something bothers me, I can pick up and move. If the power goes out, it’s okay… I can keep writing without the need for a battery backup.

I’m particular, though. I prefer journal-sized notebooks. Especially Moleskines. They have the right weight of paper, and are the perfect size to drop in my purse and go (although these days, my purse is large enough to accommodate a small child). I can’t tell you how many words I’ve churned out waiting at a doctor’s office or surreptitiously when I should be paying attention to other things. Like church.

The problem with all of this is my pen obsession. I have a deep-rooted love of the Pilot precise line of pens. They were the pens my father used, and when he died, it became almost a religious need to own and use them. Not only are they consistently even pens throughout their life, fun to use, and easy on my arthritic fingers, they remind me of my father. It’s a way to stay connected to him, even though I haven’t been able to talk to him since I was 15. I’ve even branched out from my default Pilot Precise V5 black to green, pink, red, or my favorites, dark blue and purple.

And I will fully admit it: I harbor hopes of rivaling J.K. Rowling in my success, and perhaps I can auction off one of my handwritten masterpieces for charity when I get rich and famous. Imagine how much the handwritten version of Harry Potter would sell for at auction!

The most important tool in my writing toolbox isn’t a tangible one at all, though. It’s an exercise routine. When I’m really in the grips of writing fury, my wrists will cramp, and my carpal tunnel will kick up something fierce. So solid exercises which stretch and strengthen my wrists are critical! I have mild arthritis in my hands and wrists, so it’s important that I stay on top of this or the pain gets worse than an ibuprofen or two can handle. Doing a full-body exercise routine (I’m a huge fan of yoga, and recently started DDP Yoga) helps reduce the stiffness and pain that can result from long periods of sitting in one position, writing furiously. This is doubly true if you are writing on the computer; we tend to sit in less-than-ergonomic ways that leave our bodies sore.

So no matter how you choose to write, be it by hand in a notebook, on the computer, or by carving your deathless prose in a stone tablet in your back yard, take care of your body. Writing may not be a contact sport, but if not conducted properly, can result in injury nonetheless, as I learned much to my chagrin the year I wrote 50,000 words in 10 days during NaNoWriMo.

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15 thoughts on “Notebooks and pens and cramps, oh my!

  1. Great advice…the final paragraph gave a chuckle. The vision of someone chipping away at their stone tablet caused my arthritic fingers to signal the brain for some Advil.

  2. Fantastic advice! But writing with a pen? 😛 Its been years since I wrote any story on paper!

  3. Yay! Another moleskin notebook lover!!!! When I can’t get my hands on those, I use evidence notebooks (they are long, narrow, and spiraled at the top…a sad, cheap substitute for moleskin, but hey–when you have a bunch of disparate ideas jumping at once, it becomes necessary to have multiple notebooks going…).

    I struggle with neck and shoulder cramping when I write too much…

  4. Back in the day, I learned to write by carving with my stylus into stone blocks. Now I have carpal tunnel and mild arthritis, along with all the other Cave People ailments. Still, I kinda like the looks of your Pilot pen and may lope along, knuckles down, to check one out at Lascaux Dry Goodes ‘n’ Cafe. You say they come in colors? What will they think of next!

  5. I must say, you got a point here 🙂

  6. I love to write in moleskine, too! Although I mostly use my laptop to write, I still love the feeling of my pen sliding across paper. I totally agree with the hand exercises. I have carpal and did NanoWriMo, so good advice!

  7. I like the shape of the taller, less-wide Moleskine notebooks, but they’re terrible for fountain pens. I wind up using either Clairfontaine notebooks, or Rhodia.

  8. I’m so glad it’s not just me! I love writing in my notebooks… I have several and each has a special purpose. 🙂

  9. I write in a notebooks when I’m at my kids’ swim classes or at other events where having my laptop is mostly going to be inconvenient. But my handwriting is terrible, so I really only do this when I have to. I’ve tried a fountain pen thanks to Dale and will continue trying it, but haven’t yet gotten the knack of it. Perhaps once I get the hang of it, writing with the fountain pen will be the key to getting me back into writing by hand on a regular basis.

  10. I admire people who do the notebook thing. There is art and love and passion in the act of writing as much as if not more than in the result. Sadly, when I’m “flowing,” my handwriting gets super messy. I can’t read it, and even worse, it looks bad in the beautiful moleskin. So less a work of art, more like a doctor’s Rx. Your post made me want to give it another go, however. And thank you for sharing the memory of your father. Writing is so much more than the act of conjoining words.

  11. You may just have persuaded me to at least try the Pilot Precise pens! Have been a die hard Pilot G-2 O7 (or any similarly shaped style gel pen) for years now thanks to dear old uncle arthritis and his unwished for visits. I don’t think I am ready to give up my composition books just yet though. They stand up too well to the abuse of my nearly illegible scrawl.

  12. I’ve been keeping moleskin journals for around 5 years now – before that it was just plain 1 subject college ruled notebooks. However, I have found that I LOVE the graph paper moleskins to use a journals. I don’t know why the graph paper, but you’re right about the size.

    However, I am OBSESSED with pens just like you. I’m always looking for a new pen to use for my journals. I’ve been using Sharpie pens lately, but it doesn’t write as well as I want. I’ll have to check out what you’re using!

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