What Your Writing Equipment Says About You

What Your (Non-Electronic) Writing Equipment Says About You


When you have to write by hand, what do your chosen tools say about you? 

  1. Pencil: Pencils can be either dark (B’s) or light (H’s). Writers who prefer pencils tend to be commitment phobic and flit from project to project. The lighter the pencil, the more insecure the writer. The darker the pencil the less the chance the person is actually a writer. They are most likely the talkers or visually impaired. Writers who use HB pencils should grow a pair and just commit to one of their projects.
  2. Pen: Pens are divided by price and levels of self-censoring. The more expensive the pen the more repressed the writer and the more self-censoring occurs. The story is there, but because these writers refuse to be honest with themselves, their writing remains flat. Writers who choose pens however, are tenacious and will never give up, regardless of a disastrous plot or blatant and repeated rejection. Writers who like pens that click have obsessive personalities and will spend time in rehab at some point in their careers.

Subcategory of the pen – ink colour:

  1. Blue: You still write like you did at school. Long-winded essays wrought with unspecified adjectives and lazy adverbs.
  2. Black: You steal pens and you might actually make it as a writer if only you could get out of your own way.
  3. Red: You have masochistic tendencies.
  4. Green: There is something wrong with you, but as long as no one else gets hurt we’ll leave you be.
  5. Any other colour: Seek professional help. Immediately.

Erasers and sharpeners: 

  1. Writers who choose pencils with erasers attached to the end tend to be skittish, fragile creatures who kill ideas faster than they can create them. The ideas might be good, but we never know because the ideas are erased as fast they are written.
  2. If a writer prefers a large eraser with sharp corners they are most likely a dark pencil user and not really a writer.
  3. If you have a tiny piece of rubber that used to be a big fat eraser you might actually have the ability to become a writer.
  4. The same can be said about having a desk-mounted pencil sharpener – this is how you know you are indeed a writer. Regardless of the type of pencil used, this is the mark of a true wordsmith.
  5. Small, hand-held sharpeners can only be used in the direst of situations or on out-of-office writing days, and then only if they are embellished with some kind of animated character.
  6. Writers who use Tippex are impostors and can’t write a word. Seriously, who waits for Tippex to dry?
  7. Lastly, if writers chew on their chosen implements, they are hungry and should be fed.

If you have read through this entire post trying to find you ideal implement/corrector combo, you have proved that you are indeed a writer and a master procrastinator. That said, you should be writing and not reading posts about writing tools. Your implement does not dictate your writing fate. You do.

P.S. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

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  2. A Writer’s Sketchbook
  3. World-Building For Every Genre: The Ultimate Setting Checklist
  4. What Fantasy Writers Can Teach Us About Setting
  5. How To Convey Setting In Dialogue – Without Sounding Like A B&B Brochure
  6. Ambiguity – The Kiss Of Death

This article has 16 comments

  1. D P Orman

    I read through this post – taking notes as I went with my (mid-priced) fountain pen – then read that, therefore, I’m a supreme procrastinator who is also rather, ermmm, repressed.

    I object. I read the post with an eye to writing a response. That’s research, not procrastination. Just like watching a tv adaptation of Dickens is an investigation into contemporary cultural views of classic authors, not being lazy. Even if it does involve eating unfeasibly large quantities of high-carb snacks at the same time.

    Before I forget — your post: good point, well made. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. HANNES NEL

    Bullshit – love your sense of humor. Enjoyed being taken for a ride.

  3. Louie Neira

    touché, Mia… touché

  4. Xavier

    You forgot there’s a big difference between ball-pens and nib-pens. I think the invention of ball-pens has almost totally destroyed a style of writing that can only be accomplished when you use the old-fashioned nib-pens.
    and now we also have needle pens, they also influence writing quality, or is that not important anymore?

  5. Indre

    ,,Writers who like pens that click have obsessive personalities and will spend time in rehab at some point in their careers. ” couldn’t stop laughing

  6. Dan Petreikis

    Yes, but what does using a manual typewriter say about the writer? 😉

  7. luna n.

    “Pencils can be either dark (H’s) or light (B’s).”
    I’m sorry, but WHAT? I may not care that this was written in jest, (it was entertaining, I’ll give you that), but PLEASE double check your article before you post! After all, isn’t that part of a writer’s SOP?

    FYI: H=Light, and B=Dark.

    Anyone who bothers to use graded pencils will know this. Heck, any ARTIST (writer or no) will KNOW this. (=__=) That and HBs are the beginner’s suggested pencil because HB is the mid-grade.

    And for anyone who’ll bother: HBs are hard to see/read, try a nice, sharp 2B. 😀 If you’re a writer-visual artist* though, I suggest one sharpened for writing/notes and one shaved–using a box cutter or knife, whatever you prefer–for drawing. The second one gives you more lead.

    *this works if you like to doodle while procrastinating too~ <3

  8. Mia Botha

    @luna, thanks. My mistake. Will fix it. Love the cutter advice. Will experiment immediately. Sticking to my HB though.

  9. luna

    @Mia: Oh, wow. Nice of you to reply! (I’m quite impressed! 🙂 not everyone bothers. lol.) Please be careful when you use the cutter. 🙂 Also, the cutter technique is basically just carefully shaving off the wood part as if you were carving (I just realized how hard this is to describe without pictures…). Just out of curiosity, I’m guessing you’re not the type who grips pen/pencils really hard or press real hard when writing, yes? (I maim/puncture paper when I use HBs because of this habit. Which is why I like the softer-lead but darker Bs. Haha~)

  10. JD Faver

    I cannot recall the last time I wrote with pencil. I use a pen to sign my name to 3 checks per month. Otherwise, its a computer. I write on a PC, a laptop and a netbook which I take with me most everywhere. Maybe a few notes on a sticky when I go to the grocery store. Seriously? A pencil???

  11. Leslie Smith

    You never disappoint me–I always enjoy a chuckle when I read your posts. Black pen–stolen from my husband–no click.

  12. Michelle Ashburner

    Lol. Delightful, loved reading this. Thanks Mia.

  13. Lee and J.J.

    Apparently, we should get help. Immediately.

  14. Lita

    Excellent tongue in cheek post – you nearly had me there for a moment!
    A new (preferably empty) notebook and anything that can write … as long as I can lay my hands on it; it will work.
    Looking forward to your next post!

  15. Edgar

    I love pencils. They inspire me. I write only with them. I am working very hard on my first novel. I think this post is BS

  16. Stephen

    A chisel..I’m old school…and pens I steal from Amscot

Comments are now closed.