5 Items to Snap You Out of Your Digital Writing Routine

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 8, 2011 · 986 comments

in Blog

This content is brought to you by the new Hyundai Elantra which helps you “Snap Out” of your routine to live your best life.  Click here to learn more about the new 2011 Elantra. What’s this?

Tis the age of clickety clack. Well, more like just clickety. When modern man writes these days, chances are he’s hammering away at his computer’s keyboard or working his thumbs over his phone’s keypad. The use of pen and paper has fallen by the wayside.

But while technology has made communication easy and convenient, traditional methods of writing should not be totally forgotten. Not for nostalgia’s sake, but because writing by hand offers a man several benefits that cannot be duplicated by tickling the keys.

By scanning the brain, researchers have found that writing by hand improves memory, cognitive activity, and the expression of ideas. Because writing by hand involves making multiple strokes to form letters as opposed to simply pressing a key, it activates and lights up different parts of the brain. That’s why if you’re like me, you’ll often find that if you run into a writing block while staring at your computer screen, when you grab a notepad and start jotting down ideas, the floodgates can really open up. Writing by hand also tends to be slower and more thoughtful, and it provides a greater connection between you and your words.

So writing with pen (or pencil) and paper can really keep your mind sharp and your ideas fresh. But with our computers and phones so handy, it’s hard to snap out of the digital writing routine. So here are 5 things that can help inspire you to step away from the keyboard and take some time each day to write by hand.

Col. Littleton Leather Journal

Every man should keep a journal. A journal is a place to work out the big issues in your life. Use it to hone your life’s purpose or simply as a place  to empty your mind and soul of the emotional or mental burdens that you’re experiencing at a particular time. And when you finally kick the bucket, your journal will ensure that your legacy as a man lives on with your children and grandchildren.

Maybe you’re among the millions of people who have tried to start a journal, but never got into the habit. If you’ve had trouble making journal writing part of your daily routine, perhaps what you need is a journal so handsome and inviting it’s hard not to write in it. Enter the Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal. Wrapped up in rugged steer hide, this baby will have you putting pen to paper in no time. It’s the perfect place to record your legacy of manliness.

Price: $142

Fountain Pen

We sign documents every day. Most of it’s mundane stuff, but every now and then we put our signature on pieces of a paper that carry a lot of significance. A marriage license, a mortgage, your child’s birth certificate. For these sorts of occasions, a rinky dinky ballpoint pen won’t do. A man needs a writing instrument with a bit of panache.

Enter the fountain pen.  Used by distinguished gentleman since the mid-19th century, fountain pens turn everyday writing into an art. The nib on a fountain pen allows for calligraphic flourishes. When you sign that check to pay off your debt, it will look like you signed the Declaration of Independence. And when people receive your notes, they’ll think they were delivered via a time machine.

Price: $50-$1500

Correspondence Cards

If you’re like most men living in this modern age of ours, your personal communication probably takes place through the digital ether of email, Facebook, and Twitter. While these forms of communication are fast and ubiquitous, they lack the human touch.

It’s time to snap out of your Web-based correspondence routine and embrace the art of the handwritten letter. But a proper letter can’t be just scribbled on a piece of torn out notebook paper. If you’re going to take the time to write a letter, you need to use quality stationery.

Of course we can’t think of a better or manlier set of stationery than our very own Art of Manliness inspired men’s correspondence cards. Choose from over 25 manly motifs that are letterpressed into the card and printed with brown ink. They’re perfect for jotting a quick note to Grandpa or sending your thanks to your Aunt Gertrude for your birthday savings bond.

Price: $15

Rite in the Rain Field Flex Pocket Memobook

Hopefully by now you’ve gotten into the habit of carrying a pocket notebook; we’ve certainly mentioned the importance of this tool numerous times. You never know when you’ll get an idea that will change your life. If you don’t have something to write it down in, you could lose it forever. But what happens when that idea comes to you while you’re standing in a torrential rainstorm? Most pocket notebooks won’t allow you to write in such conditions.

Not so with the Rite in the Rain Field Pocket Memobook. Popular among farmers and contractors, the Rite in the Rain notebooks are made with all-weather paper that sheds water and enables you to write in all weather conditions. Never let Mother Nature get in the way of inspiration again.

Price: $4.25

All Black Embassy Pen

So you have your fancy fountain pen for putting your John Hancock on important documents. But what sort of writing tool should a man use in his everyday life? You could go with a cheap ballpoint pen. The problem is they’re not very durable, and they have a tendency to let you down when you need them the most. Plus they’re so one deminsional. The only thing you can do with a Bic pen is write with it.

A man needs an everyday writing tool that’s both durable and multidimensional. A tactical pen fits the bill.

A tactical pen is a writing implement that can be used both for signing checks and as a last ditch self-defense weapon. Machined from solid metal, tactical pens typically have a tapered barrel, a screw-on lid, and a nice knurled grip. If you had to, you could use the end of the pen to forcefully disarm a would-be attacker, Joe Pesci-in-Casino style.

The Embassy All Black Pen from County Comm is the tactical pen of choice of the U.S. Government. The pen is machined from alumnium and has deep knurled grip on the body that will ensure this bad boy never slips from your hand. The Embassy Pen uses Fisher “space pen” cartridges that will keep you writing in temperatures from -30°F to 250°F. Pair this up with a Rite in the Rain notebook, and come rain or shine, you’ll be an unstoppable writing machine.

Price: $44.50

Win a Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal

Hyundai will be giving away a Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal to one lucky AoM reader, so he can start snapping himself out of his digital writing routine. Here’s how to enter the sweepstakes:

Leave a comment sharing what sort of tools or methods you use to snap yourself out of your digital writing routine and get yourself writing by hand.

Deadline to enter is March 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm CST.


{ 986 comments… read them below or add one }

901 Nicholas March 15, 2011 at 2:12 am

I keep a cardboard reporters notebook in the back pocket of my jeans and a pen in the front pocket. Although the combo is usually used for the impromptu interview it serves as a great place for casual musings or project planning.

902 Kenny Sutherland March 15, 2011 at 11:13 am

When I deploy overseas, I write my wife handwritten letters about my day and what is going on. She always gets a kick out of them and seeing the exotic postage on it.

903 PM Nelson March 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I use 3×5 cards to organize what I am writing. I can rearrange, delete, edit, insert and so on without pressing a single key. Most importantly, I am not limited to what I can see on a computer monitor- I can see the whole thing in an instant.
I also remember the mantra: “Just because it can be done on a computer, should it be done on a computer?” This eliminates a lot of computer notes in favor of phone calls, handwritten notes, personal letters, etc. My kids tell me that they keep my handwritten letters around for a long time, primarily because it takes them that long to decipher the handwriting!

904 Josh March 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Personally, I prefer to make my own pens. Turning a wood pen using a mini-lathe can give you something to be proud of while also functional. And the best part is that it’s super-easy. Enjoy:

905 Robert Alderink March 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I started using my Molskine journal again after some time just keeping track of things in my computer. Writing it down with a plan and a purpose helps me remember and gives my ideas a resting place to be easily retrieved at a later time. I also make hand-crafted, turned pens on my lathe which are just more delightful to use than a commercial writing device.

906 David Mackh March 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I have carried a pocket notebook with me since I started college about a year ago. Its a great way to jot down a quick note or phone number and it is much classier than punching it into your phone.

907 CS March 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I hit the office early and spend 10-30 minutes writing in the quiet, before logging into the computer and before the phone starts to ring.

908 Moose March 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm

The use of a fountain pen helped me make the move to writing by hand easily. The feel of a good pen when writing makes the who process that much more enjoyable.

909 Kenneth March 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I particularly did not like this article. Very rare because I enjoy most of the things on AoM. However, this article makes it seem like you need to buy new products to break a digital writing routine. All you need is your cheap bic pen and a pad of paper. If one goes and buys all of these items with hopes of breaking their routine they will not break anything. You need determination to break a routine, NOT buying new products.

910 Cesar March 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I use a Yoropen, go to yoropen.com for info. and a camo green Rite in the Rain notebook. The Yoropen allows you to clearly see what you’re writing as you’re writing and has a handy dandy finger support to reduce finger strain. Very important when you’re muse has inspired you to write your latest masterpiece. The Rite in the Rain is great because you can write in the rain with it! Also, the military version has all of these handy dandy measurements and diagrams. You can just whip it out, jot down a quick note & put it back in your pocket in a snap.

911 Erik March 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I use a fountain pen, moleskin, and cards. I make sure to send a hand written letter to show people how grateful I am for whatever the case is.

912 Blake March 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I make sure that I don’t open my computer first thing in the morning. It forces me to slow down, allows me to read, reflect, and jot some thoughts down in a journal before starting the day.

913 Brian M. March 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I use a pen that was hand-made by one my co-workers, and given to me one year as a gift. It is, without a doubt, the most perfectly balance pen that I’ve ever used.

It’s worthy of a Col. Littleton journal to write in. :)

914 Rick S. March 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm

A good empty notebook, a pen with some heft with a cup of coffee while watching a rainy afternoon…that’s all it takes for me!

915 Chris March 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I often use a small Moleskin journal for writing or drafting out invention concepts. Most of these aren’t completely grounded in physics, but still.

916 Brandon B March 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I bought a fountain pen kit and created my own pen. I like knowing I had a hand in creating my writing instrument. I enjoy spending time outdoors writing in my journal and taking a break from this high tech world. I hope to learn Spencerian Script to improve my penmanship.

917 Russell S. March 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm

A good habit I picked up from a producer I used to work for, was to carry a moleskin around to take notes on every phone call and every meeting. Not did it cut down on time on me having to find notes or emails on my computer, but it’s served as an accurate record of what other people said and when. It’s saved my ass quite a few times now.

918 Jonathan March 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I carry one of the slim, thin cover Moleskin pocket notebooks in my back pocket, and a Zebra 301 Compact pen in my front pocket. They’re with me everyday and everywhere, as indispensable as my pocketknife.

919 Jonathan March 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm

A thin Moleskine notebook in my back pocket (the kind that come three to a pack) and a Zebra F-301 Compact pen in my front pocket are as indispensable as my pocketknife (and thanks to the idiotic TSA policies they’re with me more than my pocketknife).

Apologies if this is a double post – I tried once before and it didn’t seem to go through.

920 David March 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I started using a moleskine journal to collect my days’ thoughts, significant quotes, especially good meals, etc. I look back at if often and find myself remembering where I was when I experienced that event, it has proven to be a worthwhile endeavor. I write in mine with either the Pilot G2 0.5mm or one of the Zebra rollerballs.

921 David Nega March 15, 2011 at 11:46 pm

I do not have a journal or a fancy pen, but I do have school notebook that I use to gather my thoughts both in and out of class. I find that the process of writing forces me to organize my thoughts into coherent sentences and to contextualize my problems and ideas on a larger scale. Writing in my school notebook often takes attention and time away from class participation, however much it may add sentimental value to my notebooks. A journal would be a dedicated place, which would lead to dedicated time to organize my thoughts outside of class.

922 Dylan March 16, 2011 at 12:01 am

I’ve been using my Dr. Grip gel pen for several years now. I pair it with my moleskine notebook for both notes and sketches.

923 Greg March 16, 2011 at 12:38 am

I use a soft-cover, squared paged, extra large moleskine as my life book – everything goes in there; work notes, home notes, random thoughts, lecture notes – all in one place. I go through one every two ro three months. A Parker roller-ball, a nice heavy one, lives clipped to thepages, to convey thoughts to paper. I love using a fountain pen, but they have a nasty habit of leaking at altitude, and I fly frequently, so the nib stays on the deskat home.

Starting the day scribbling the day’s activities and must do’s certainly brings focus, and the act of actually making a check mark next to a to-do is so much more satifying that clicking on a box in Outlook.

924 Dylan March 16, 2011 at 12:47 am

I’ve been using my Dr. Grip gel pen for several years. I pair it with a molskine notebook for notes and sketches.

925 Brian March 16, 2011 at 1:38 am

I find that using cursive really helps me write. Printing is okay but it is very boring. When you write in cursive you look very sophisticated and it looks very good. Cursive is an art and if you enjoy looking at your writing it is more likely that you will stay interested in your work.

926 E. Lopez March 16, 2011 at 6:11 am

I write in a journal every day!

927 Jeff March 16, 2011 at 7:10 am

I’m been using a pocket Moleskin for some time now, but could always use the COL Littleton upgrade!

928 Clark March 16, 2011 at 7:31 am

I carry a Levenger Pocket Briefcase, which is actually a wallet that is big enough to carry index cards within. I make notes all day long as needed. In the evening, I transpose all the notes into my Moleskine daily diary.
By physically writing down all the information, it makes electronic note/report generation far easier since the information has already been classified, organized, and parsed.

929 Daniel Gonzales March 16, 2011 at 9:49 am

I took a bookarts class my first semester of College.
In it I learned how to make all types of books, so now I make myself
journals which I feel obligated to write in because of the time I spent
making them.

930 Alex March 16, 2011 at 9:59 am

I’ve adopted many of the same habits mentioned by others, in that I:
1. Always have a nice black or blue pen and a pocket Moleskine notebook with me at all times and I jot down notes, schedules, info, and sketches into it. It allows me to not let a thought be dropped and forgotten.
2. Leave my computer off at night when I get home from work. After an entire day of pointing, clicking, and typing in the office it’s nice to sit down at an empty desk and see the ink flow.
3. Have consciously made a habit of sending short notes or thank you cards for whatever reason. Having a stack of nice cards to send makes me want to use them up, so I send one or two a week.

931 Ryan Winchester March 16, 2011 at 11:37 am

I’ve used a moleskine since highschool. I would love to get into leather working and make my own, with some hand pick stationary inside. But that rite in the rain notebook sounds awesome, and I love the idea of the fountain pen. I’ll have to write down in my pocket notebook to get one.

932 Christopher Bradburn March 16, 2011 at 11:45 am

I always keep a molskine in my bag to capture thoughts/ideas, etc…and then I keep a Black n’ Red journal for everything that I write creatively or that I want to take action on.

933 Josh March 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm

My handwriting over the years of lack of use has turned embarrassingly bad. I do want to break out of the digital domain for certain business related correspondence. In order to do so, I have started practicing my penmanship on a daily basis. It takes no more than 5 minutes to begin retraining yourself.

934 Chris L March 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm

My 13 1/2 year old son died suddenly last July, and I have been working through my pain with writing, usually on my macbookpro. My challenge, however, has been that I am often taken with a thought while moving through the world rather than at my desk, so I grab whatever is handiest: receipts, envelopes, flaps torn from boxes, even the palm of my hand. I am certain I have lost some of my best jottings, so a pocket journal and a sturdy, dependable writing tool would be a much better idea.

935 Tim March 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I will most often choose the path of least resistance, so while I had a laptop, it was simple to type up a letter and print it out on the printer. Therefore, I got rid of the laptop and went to an iPad in a notebook that also contains a notepad. Since it is such a pain to write anything quickly or of substance on the iPad, it forces me to use the notepad on the other side. The notepad is the path of least resistance.

936 Darius March 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

1) I make my own pocket notebooks out of cereal and cracker boxes after i finish eating them. I cut the paper and bind the notebooks by hand with thread. Its cheap, makes a thoughtful and interesting gift (nilla wafer notebooks for friends make them smile), and a form of recycling.
2)I have been practicing to utilize the “Handywrite” shorthand system in order to code and increase the speed of my journal writing, which I have tried to make into a daily habit.
3) I also use dry erase markers on my windows and mirrors. It helps me with mind mapping, and staying on top of daily task lists because the surfaces act as a “whiteboard” and I see them everyday.
4) I try to organize my life as much as possible with a pen and paper. I have several notebooks dedicated to different life aspects (ex. money, goal planning and execution, self-improvemet). You are not confined by someone else’s program format, there is no risk of your notebook “crashing”, and you never need any browsers other than your eyes to access the “files”.

937 Kris Estep March 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I carry a pocket moleskine and pen at all times and jot down ideas and important info there instead of in my phone. I have also of late begun to do all first drafts of my sermons on paper in pen or pencil. I seem to be able to think clearer that way.

938 Colton March 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I love the Red n’ Black notebooks… something so sharp about the hardcover notebook, makes me want to write!

939 Tim March 16, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I like to take notes in class by hand, and then later type them into a word processor on my computer. It keeps me from surfing during class, and because I type faster than I write, it forces me to decide what is really important enough to write down, condensing my notes.

940 M.A.P. March 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm

I use a moleskine…which throughout day collects everything from quotes, to a quick note, to task list, to journaling. I also do the rough draft of sermons and lessons on paper as I have found the slower pace jogs my memory and also pushes me to be more creative. Then sermon notes are transferred to MacBook Pro where it becomes a .pdf that gets moved into dropbox to be accessed on my ipad. Everything else gets transferred into MBP in evernotes, ical or my journal.

Being a pastor I also keep ‘Thank You’ cards handy as I have found that people tend to appreciate these a little more than a quick text or email. :)

941 Fraz March 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm

A moleskine is my constant companion. I have filled three of them over the last 6 years, taking notes from lectures, meetings, etc. My rate of filling them is only increasing. For putting them into a digital form, I scan the pages when I want to share. Can’t read my handwriting? Sorry!

942 Matthew Dennis March 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I kept a journal since high school and then stopped in my early thirties. It felt like an indulgence and a burden. But after about a year, I found myself drawn back in. I flirted with it, keeping an on again/off again journal like some kind of junkie. I eventually owned up to the idea that I’m the type of guy that keep a journal. I use a soft cover moleskine notebook (because it’s portable, durable, and available in graph paper for sketching) and whatever super fine point roller ball pen I have handy.

For what it’s worth, I’ve tried keeping an electronic journal. This is the future, after all. But I type all day at work. For letting my mind really wander, it has to be low tech pen and paper.

943 Joel March 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Generally I never take my laptop out of the house if at all possible. I always carry a leather bound notebook and a stainless steel pen to chronicle ideas that come to me. The tools make the task.

944 Jamie March 17, 2011 at 12:26 am

I’ve been using Moleskine notebooks for the past eight years. I received a hardback pocket notebook as a gift from my uncle, and since then Moleskines have been my go-to notebook. I still use the hardback pocket style, but I’ve expanded to the soft, pocket daily planner and the large hardback, ruled notebook as well. I use the latter as my journal, writing with an antique fountain pen I was given by my grandfather.

945 Andrew M. March 17, 2011 at 6:04 am

Right now my writing bundle for off-the-web includes an almost filled Cavallini & Co Italian leather journal and a Stainless Steel Parker ballpoint which I’m seriously considering replacing with that Embassy. I’m glad that my offline writings outnumber my online, though unfortunately that makes my online readers think I’ve nothing to say. Oh well ;)

946 Billy March 17, 2011 at 10:05 am

I usually carry a RITR small pocket notebook and a Fisher Space pen variation of some sort every day. Lately, I’ve been using a Moleskine Daily Planner that has the days of the week on one page and lines for notes on the other…works out perfect for me!

947 Nicholas Peterson March 17, 2011 at 11:13 am

I use a simple moleskin notebook divided into different sections: to do, money, names and addresses to keep track of my daily affairs, and prefer writing with a fountain pen because I don’t have to apply the same sort of pressure to the paper that you do with a ball point to get it to write.

948 Russ March 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I’ve been writing in journals for my daughters. I think handing them a journal is more fascinating than sending them an email. I do email the elder one on occasion, but for more of an internal monologue, I keep it in a written journal. Maybe someday they’ll find them in the bookshelves.

949 Matt C. March 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Thanks to the inspiration and instruction of AoM, I carry a pocket notebook with me all the time, and write down philosophical musings or just things I need to remember. I am also a musician, and do almost all of my music and lyric writing on paper. I can’t write music or a poem on the computer the way I can on paper with pencil.

950 Reeva March 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I always keep a notebook with me and write down thoughts that come to mind. It’s really the only time I write anymore.

951 John Madden March 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

I’m starting to write everything in cursive. since my cursive isnt very good every time i write its a sort of practice. so when i write i’m actually just practicing my cursive. its worked very well, because i want to improve and practice i write way more.

952 Dan Balk March 18, 2011 at 12:32 am

At times, I practice writing with both hands simultaneously to keep my mind sharp. This mental exercise is impossible electronically thereby forcing me to write with pen and paper. For an added challenge I preform this exercise, but use a different language for one hand.

953 Michael A. Robson March 18, 2011 at 7:02 am

Sounds like a great idea, but man am I hooked to my iPod touch, I put notes on this things all the time and it’s so damn convenient for those ‘Eureka’ moments.

Okay, I’m getting a Moleskin ;) Sounds great

954 Jef Johnson March 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I was going through a box of odds and ends the other day at my internship for a long-time agent and it was full of polaroids and hand-written letters with postmarks from all over the world and the actual writing and signatures of more than a few amazing writers who are no longer with us. I started to think that, in 30 or 40 years, if someone were to go through my things in a similar manner there would be nothing in the box but a thumb drive or two.

Sad at this idea, I went out and bought stationery immediately. My cursive is atrocious, but this linen paper… it almost compels me at this point. So that’s my tip – get stationery and writing implements that excite you… then getting down to analog writing is downright impossible to resist.

955 Doug March 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm

After a recent move, I found an old box in which I carefully backed-up all of my writings, reports, and other important documents on 5.25″ floppy disks. Now all I have to do is invent a time machine to travel back to 1992 to buy a 5.25″ floppy drive (and that new kickin’ INXS album). I have letters and journals from family members who had the forethought over 100 years ago to write their thoughts down on paper.

956 Brandon C. March 19, 2011 at 4:03 am

Deep breaths taken in outside, someplace calm and quiet. This is what can get my creative juices flowing!

957 nathan clark March 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

I recently started carrying a pocket journal to write down ideas, lists, schedules and things of that nature, also I bought a journal to write down my thoughts of certain topics just to help me be more solid in what I believe and stand for.Two years ago I started writing letters and I love it. I have a “writing box” that holds all of my pen and paper supplies but I have a plan to make a more appropriate portable writing station. The last thing I really like is my quill pen I made myself with dip ink my girlfriend got me.

958 Sam March 20, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I don’t have anything too fancy. I have a lined Moleskine notebook, 5″x8.5″ and I use a Uni-ball pen.

The biggest thing I have to do is go somewhere without any screens. I’ll go to the study lounge or somewhere with just a table, maybe a book or two that I need, and that’s it.

959 JOSH COOPER March 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I use a a Filson LEATHER & TWILL FIELD JOURNAL and I write everything I can remember about my day to day battles. I also use my Giuliano Mazzuoli Micrometer pencil.

960 Kathy Cassinelli March 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I need to curl up by myself, without interruption, where I can lose myself in whatever and wherever my mind would take me!

961 Steven Masters March 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm

If I were selected as a winner of the Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal, it would get me off to a great start at journaling. Reading the benefits of journaling have me intrigued, such as better memory retention, aid in fighting depression by monitoring your moods and also something to leave as a heritage. I wish my grandfathers and dad had journaled so that I’d know them better.

962 ceejay March 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

While watching a stupid movie, compose absurdities!

963 bob March 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I have never been one to write in general so I think this journal would be the perfect opportunity to put down the craziness that is my mind in writing

964 Tyler S March 23, 2011 at 7:55 am

I am very open to the idea of writing in a journal. As a teacher in an urban area in capitol city in CT, the stresses are present each and every day. Add these to the normal stresses of life, relationships, sports teams, etc and you need to be able to write them down. However, a journal should reflect the man to whom it belongs. I live a rugged, but refined lifestyle and a good leather journal is just what is needed. I the classroom I always am taking a step back and seeing if my students are where they should be, if not I adjust. I make notes in the unit of what worked or what went wrong and adjust accordingly. A journal will allow any person to do the same to their life. The beauty of it all is that one can flip back to dilemmas that happened in the past and not repeat the same mistakes. I think it was Einstein who said, “Trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results is a sign of insanity.” The journal prevents this.

965 Ashley March 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Since I’d use it more for sketching than writing, I’d make an effort to sketch at least 1 thing a day- drawing from environmental inspiration or interesting sights from the daily commute.

966 David March 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

I personally found hand written writing to be a rewarding experience. I purchased two Moleskin journals and started writing a book to each of my children. I don’t write as often as I like however I am hoping to leave a treasured volume or two to each of my children. I have been chronicling everyday events and hope to shed some enlightened on our everyday decisions as they are growing.

967 Trevor March 24, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I tend to use this cool unpolished leather bound journal I found at an art store coupled with a sharpie pen. Then I head to my local coffee shop and sit on the porch with my pipe and write.

968 Matt March 24, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I use an aurora fountain pen and try to keep a regular journal. Nothing fancy although I would love a nice refillable leather journal to pack and take with me.

969 Danny March 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I have only kept dream journals. There were times when I wanted to start writing in a normal journal, but they never were consistent. I think that this article and the comments are very much compelling me to keep a journal. As a college student, fountain pens are a little bit out of the price range for now, but I am a big fan of the very simple, inexpensive “Pilot G-2″ with as fine a point as I can get.
If you are not ambidextrous, I would recommend practicing writing with your other hand. While I myself am not ambidextrous, I have found myself making tremendous progress with my non-writing hand. Someone even mentioned being bilingual and ambidextrous simultaneously! It is said that President Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other at the same time. Seeing as how “simultaneously bilingual and ambidextrous” is somewhat of a mouthful, I feel the need to invent a term for this sort of person that is short, to the point, and of course, manly…Why of course! What could be more fitting than “MANBIDEXTROUS”?

970 Edwin March 28, 2011 at 2:23 am

I have had a problem with expensive pens before, and that is that they get lost. If I lose a ball point pen, no big deal, since I probably got it free somewhere, or at least didn’t pay much for it. I have a couple of fancier pens that I use for more important occasions but I don’t take them out everywhere I go. There seems to be a variation of Murphy’s law that says that the more expensive your pen is, the higher chance you have of losing it somewhere.

Doug should find a computer club somewhere that has meetings, and go to one of them. There will probably be someone who has an old computer sitting around with a 5.25″ drive on it, who could copy his 5.25″ disks to 3.5″ ones, or something. It might take a few steps but it would be better than nothing. Or he might check with some of these small computer stores, etc. Some people keep them just for that purpose.

971 Aaron Brown March 28, 2011 at 2:55 am

Any website that is featured by LewRockwell.com is worth reading in my book. I’m thinking about ordering the memo book and journal – though hopefully I win the journal ;)

972 Joshua Scott March 28, 2011 at 7:24 am

There are two things I do to keep my handwriting sharp, though the first has gone by the wayside. I was in the habit of writing letters in cursive to an uncle for a couple of years, but then things got hectic on both sides, and that puttered out. The one thing I still do is far more interesting. I keep a journal in elvish. Yes, you read that right–elvish. I’m a huge fan of anything and everything Tolkien, and I’m a bit of a language buff as well, so it was only a matter of time before I started taking his invented language seriously. Now before any other Tolkien buffs jump on me with comments about the lack of a complete elvish vocabulary and grammar, let me clarify I only use the alphabet, modified for use in the English language. Tolkien has a great explanation of how the alphabet works in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, and basically I applied the phonetic structure to the English language so that I write English sounds in elvish characters. It’s akin writing “book” in Greek as beta, omicron, omicron, kappa, rather than as the actual translated “biblios,” if that makes any more sense. It’s a bit time-consuming, but it’s a beautiful script and it has the added benefit of being unintelligible to virtually all prying eyes!

973 reinkefj March 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

Just a pencil and an index card

974 Iloilo Jones March 28, 2011 at 9:24 am

Many of my best writing has resulted from those nights when I curl up in a chair with my journal and calligraphy pen (a habit I’ve had since my early days at Northwestern) and sort out the day. From some of those simple writings have grown published poems, literature for FIJA..org, writings on my own blog, and some writings that have been republished around Earth. Nothing clears the mind and organizes the thinking like the physical act of scribing stray thoughts into organized discourse on paper. I highly recommend a pen and good paper, a quiet spot, and a few minutes of reflection before you put nib to bond. And, yes, it is the perfect time to practice those elegant lines of good penmanship, too. Some future day, those lovely journals stored in the trunk might inspire some future thinker. I certainly hope so.

975 Al Sledge March 28, 2011 at 9:52 am

For a living, I do both hardware and software design. I have done this for over 45 years and the technology has vastly changed during that period. The one thing however that remains the same is that I rarely use a computer in any hardware or software design. My most important problem solving set of tools are simply paper and pencil. More specificly graph paper and a .05mm mechanical pencil with #2 lead. The soft and small diameter lead are an indicator of when I need to stop for a breather as when the lead starts snapping, it tells me I am frustrated. I find I can not work without pencil and paper. Once a design is complete and the initial testing is done, I use a spiral notebook to keep track of measurements and defects noted to make later improvements and additional design enhancements. The computer is then used lastly to write the manuals and reports that augment the various systems once they are out the door. The younger guys laugh at me and my methods, but it is hard to beat success. That is why they work for me!

976 Catherine March 28, 2011 at 10:19 am

Since I am so used to blogging and sitting at a computer to write, I often find myself getting overwhelmed with the speeding thoughts that want to be written down when I sit with my journal. What I’ve started doing is making a basic outline of what I want to talk about and then I go from there. Since I’ve taken up writing an outline, I have been writing in my journal every day just like I did as a teenager.

977 Kelly March 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

Sorry guys, everyone with real field experience knows that you must use a pencil with Rite-In-Rain notebooks. Ink smears.

978 Catherine March 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

I guess I should have read that this blog is called the art of manliness! Oops. I still want the journal ;)

979 TK March 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

It happened when I tossed my computer out the window. A man’s got to make a living somehow.

980 tom March 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I have a ringed notebook with quality heavy gauge paper that seems to make writing down my ideas a little easier.
Its important to go somewhere quiet and comfortable, away from the phone, interruptions etc… Its there I am able to let go and be in the moment with my thoughts.

981 Dan March 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

It would be interesting to have a journal that nice and see if it made the difference for me. I have tried to start journaling a couple of times in the last several years, but have not been successful. I think I’ll try again anway.

982 Mashuri March 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I enjoy hand writing and sketching on my iPad, thank you very much. Instead of a pen, I use either my fingers or a handy stylus. Every note I’ve ever taken on it travel with me wherever I go, and are accessible from any computer with internet access.

983 John D. Shea March 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Joshua Scott, excellent idea about keeping a journal in “code.” What I do is keep a cursive handwritten journal next to my Bible. I can catch up on journaling during long, boring sermons at church, and everyone else thinks I am being studious.

984 J.P. Parks March 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

For the last year or so I’ve been writing with a nib and iron gall ink. I use all sorts of nibs, but most of them are old ones that are unused. You can buy them on eBay for a song.

When I tell people I write with nib and ink, they always look at me like I’m from another planet. They also ask if it’s cumbersome. I tell them that it helps to slow me down, helps me gather my thoughts, and allows me to speak more directly to whatever it is I’m trying to get down on paper. It’s not as cumbersome as some might think, though. Once you figure out your setup, it works nicely.

I have good handwriting anyway, but I’ve learned to pay more attention to the style of my writing and the shape of my letters; much like improving one’s speech through improved enunciation.

If you get the chance to pick up a box of old nibs, and some ink – do it; it is immensely satisfying, and particularly manly.

985 David Chew March 28, 2011 at 9:50 pm

When I was just out of college (over 30 years ago) I discovered in a Walden Bookstore Fred Eager’s _The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting_. I got it and in 6 months had completely changed my handwriting. To this day I get comments and requests to do wedding invitations, formal certificates, &c. I love my italic nib fountain pen. However, for the fine note-taking and normal day-to-day writing, I could not function without my Namiki vanishing point (extra) fine nib push button fountain pen. I carry them both with me at all times.

986 Mike Rodgers March 29, 2011 at 9:21 am

I don’t get to write much these days but when I do, it’s usually printed. I get comments from the bank, customers and co-workers about it. This started when I had to use handwriting to input data in a Newton MessagePad. Now I print with pen and paper.
While I do not have an Embassy Pen, I do use a Zebra fine point pen with an all metal body. It’s quite durable and the fine point gives me the control I like. It works especially well when writing on xray film as well.

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