Why slow down?
Most days I turn the computer on to a hundred or so emails, despite my control methods to stop junk mail. I check Facebook to be met with a barrage of things that need my attention. Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all lure me to gather more information and ideas and occasionally the phone rings with more pulls on my time. Sometimes it feels like there is just not enough time to deal with any of it and I hurtle through life just getting things done but not really pausing to catch a breath. This break neck speed of approach works and is productive but it is not sustainable. Slowing down gives you time to think, time to gather your thoughts and I’m working hard to plan a bit of slowness into my working day.
Most of us have to write something at some point in the day. It might be a shopping list scribbled on an envelope or a birthday card done in your best handwriting. It might be an essay or an article or a journal entry. We all need a way to get ink on paper somehow.
For the last 20 or so years I’ve been using biros, felt tips and most recently my writing pen of choice is a Uniball liquid ink pen. I don’t much like writing by hand and I’ve been told my handwriting looks like a load of dead spiders. I’ve been battling through, trying to work out what I’ve written on many occasions. I write too fast, trying to get as much information down as possible. It is a stressful, ineffective way of doing things. I needed to find some ways to slow down so I could think.
Waiting for ink to dry
At the end of last year I was given a Kaweko fountain pen from Pocket Notebooks. Using a fountain pen isn’t much different to using a biro when it comes to getting words down. Shaking it about might get messy but I’ve not felt the the need to do that. What is different is the waiting time. The ink does not dry immediately. Because I had to wait for the ink, there was no point in rushing. The whole process of writing a simple shopping list became more mindful and more fun. Forced to take time over it, my mind had space to think and clear. Because I was slowing down, I could actually read what I had written! It is no way beautiful calligraphy but there is no doubt that the fountain pen has made my handwriting better because it has forced me to put the brakes on.
The Kaweko pen I have is a Perkeo Bad Taste. It is plastic, chunky and has a bright salmony pink lid. It looks deceptively heavy, when in fact it is super light. It has tiny little cartridges that seem to last forever and the ink comes in amazing colours like orange too.
The ink flows out smoothly, the nib doesn’t catch and the Kaweko is very forgiving with my erratic writing style. It is the unfussiest pen I have ever used. You can turn it upside down to get a finer line and it does not complain. I caught the cats playing with it (it spins temptingly when patted with a paw) but it didn’t leak or even blot the next time I used it.
The lid of the Kaweko snaps shut and the pen bounced around in my handbag for a week without leaking or altering the gentle but constant flow of ink from the nib. This pen is my favourite thing of January 2018.
There are other ways you can slow down what you write:
Use a typewriter
Typewriters are often in charity shops. We have 3 of them and the most expensive one – the yellow one in the picture was £5. Despite having a decent typing speed on a keyboard, the construction of a typewriter slows me down. If I try to go fast the little arms get tangled up or my fingers go down the gaps between the letters.
A couple of years ago my sister and I were swapping typed letters. I posted mine and kept expecting an instant reply. I’m so used to texts and emails. I actually felt a bit insulted because the reply didn’t come within the hour. I’d bothered to take time to type a letter to her, the least she could do was respond. Of course she didn’t actually get the letter for a day and she replied as promptly as second class post lets you. I’m conditioned to expect fast responses and I think it is good practice to make this super speedy life a bit slower whenever possible.
If you find, have or are given a typewriter you will probably be able to buy it a new ribbon online, if you get stuck changing it YouTube is your friend.
The quote “I just want it to all make sense” came from a meeting with one of my design clients. I love it so much because it can be applied to everything, not just the structure of a website. I printed it using cheap Poundland printing blocks and ink on a sheet or origami paper. It was messy to do, it is messy to look at but that fits with the quote. If I had tweeted this or put it as a Facebook status in text it wouldn’t have meant so much to me, or lasted so long on my notice board. If you don’t have a handy Poundland, printing blocks are easy to carve out of erasers and ink pads can be made with loo roll and food colouring. It will take you a very long time to carve an alphabet, if you are doing that please relish the time it takes and enjoy getting away from the rat race.
If you are reading this and thinking ‘I don’t have time for this nonsense’ maybe that is indicating you really do need to make some time. If you need something to limit your speed when you write, fountain pens, typewriters and printing will all do the trick. Starting by slowing down your writing is an easy way to start to get some mindfulness back into life.
Disclosure : Pocket Notebooks gave me the pen for review purposes, they are never getting it back, I love it. If you click on any of the Amazon links I get a small commission if you buy something.