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 }

801 KParker March 11, 2011 at 11:50 am

I do love writing post cards with my standard and old reliable Parker pen.
Also I am a fan of postcard Chess. yet another lost art

802 Mark Sandy March 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

I started using a WRITERSBLOK POCKET SIZE NOTEBOOK about 2 months ago. It allows me to jot down ideas, reminiders and to do lists. Very helpful.

803 John March 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I’m currently still in the Army and for over the last 3 decades have kept journals for everything I’ve ever worked on. It’s always fun to go to my library shelf and see the rows of journals that I have filled over the years and pull one out and start reading what I wrote about during that time. The memories that flood back, it’s amazing. Normally I have just used the ugly lime green cloth hard bound 5×7 journals that the government provides us for free. It’s easy to carry around and you can to take it out in the bad weather without much fear or concern. For my personal life I wanted something a bit nicer. I tried Franklin Planners for a few years and finally got tired of carrying around a binder the size of a bible and opted for some really nice leather journals readily available at Borders, Barnes and Nobles or any other larger book stores. I’d buy one, would fill it, go to get another like it and of course they wouldn’t carry that one anymore, so I started buying 4 or 5 at a time. So needless to say, I have a variety of journals in my collection. For my writing instrument of choice, I tried using a really nice, not real expensive Parker writing pen. Of course, doing what I do, I lost that one, then another and finally gave up on keeping nice pens. So I simply started using of all things the Pentel 0.7 Blue Mechanical Pencil. I can buy them pretty cheap by the box, the lead is cheap and strong, and if you use HB, it’s easy to write, read and erase. You can use it in “Rite-n-Rain” books, or any other fine journals. Plus it’s a wonderful self defense weapon with that sharp point, always a fine bonus.
The one thing I never thought about when I started doing this, was that my kids would some day be able to sit down and read about all the stupid, crazy and interesting things I have done in my life. I wrote my own biography without ever thinking about it or trying. That is an amazing gift to leave to your family.

804 Taylor Hershberger March 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I carry around 3×5 cards quite a bit. They help me to capture an idea quickly, or take notes for an assignment without looking very tacky by pulling out a phone to punch it in during a conversation. It is a lot more polite to write something down in front of someone, then to punch it into a phone or a tablet computer.

805 John C. Majors March 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I find that carrying around a moleskine journal (i own a variety of sizes so that they will fit the size of the pockets i’m wearing) and my favorite pen promote writing down thoughts as they come to me. I try to take a few quite moments a week to write on a few specific topics that i want to research further.

It’s also especially inspiring to read about other famous authors that do not use computers (like David McCullough – http://blog.wellreadlife.com/my_weblog/2009/12/david-mcculloughs-ode-to-slow-and-a-tribute-to-the-typewriter.html). Wendell Berry also comes to mind – he has always written out his books by hand and had others type it. Claims he will never own a computer.

I also try to write in pencil in my journal whenever i can. a good reminder of the power of simplicity.

806 Jeff Miller March 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I have used the Rite in the Rain field notebooks for a lot of my training; I find they are very durable and small enough to not be a burden in the field.

However, for bedside journaling, I find that nothing can replace a Moleskine pocket notebook. It is a much cheaper, but still very nice, alternative to the Col. Littleton.

807 Kevin March 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm

God I love this site. And damn do I want that journal.

I’m a computer geek but I’ve steadfastly refrained from getting a smart phone. This means that if I’m trying to write while mobile, it’s a book. I keep a notepad on me at all times.

808 CL March 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I like to use my Namiki retractable fountain pen for note taking and notes in general. Our law firm also provided us with “calling cards” or sorts that I am trying to use more often.

809 Perry Randall March 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm


I find that sitting outside with a notebook and, yes, fountain pen, while smoking my pipe, listening to the night, and just waiting for inspiration to strike does the trick consistently.



810 Cord March 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I am hardly ever without a notebook and a good pen at work. These are things that I cannot live without. Many people are often surprised as to how long I can hang onto a single pen and use it until it no longer has any ink.

At home, I have a basic journal that gets written in several times a week and a fine fountain pen made from purple heart wood. I love this pen, and enjoy the rich purple look this pen gains with continued use.

811 Greg K. March 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Personally, I find it hard to beat a good Moleskine notebook and a Zebra F-301 ballpoint pen. A Pilot G-2 will do nicely in a pinch as well. I would really like to find a quality fountain pen that doesn’t cost a small fortune – I’ve tried the disposable variety, but they don’t write as finely as my Zebras. The search continues!

812 John K. Patterson March 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I find the Zebra F-301 pen, with black ink and fine tip, the perfect writing instrument when I can’t or don’t want the clacking of a typewriter or the myriad distractions of a computer with an internet connection. Just about any notebook will do to get my writing done, but I prefer either the nice/expensive “writer’s journals,” or the cheap college-ruled notebooks that helped me record information in many a university class. Put those and a cup of coffee in front of me at a quiet table in Starbucks, and my mind flies off to places it would otherwise be timid about. Writer’s block normally doesn’t stand a chance when that happens. Come to think of it, I should probably do that now…

813 Elijah Fox March 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I use three big blackboards and a good stick of chalk to work out synthesis equations for my organic chemistry class. Course I usually have my teacher behind me coughing every time I make a mistake, eventually I had to start buying him halls defense drops.

814 Joseph Kraft March 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Lamy makes great utilitarian fountain pens that look like something a man would write with, not Cruella Devil. You can get them for $30-$40 and I am rarely without mine.

815 Peter Hernandez March 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm

To me, a pocket journal and pencil are a must. Whether its taking down a note of a fleeting idea or a quick sketch of something that caught my eye I always keep my sketchbook right on me, inside my jacket’s breast pocket to be exact. It is just so useful, and the more you use it the easier it gets. Its just a really useful habit to me.

816 Jay March 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Whenever I’m heading out with a bag in tow, I’ll bring a notebook and several pens. Writing in transit is a great way to start the day.

817 SB March 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm

i started using moleskine notebooks a couple of years ago when i noticed that i was too dependent on my blackberry lol

818 GZ March 11, 2011 at 8:04 pm

3×5 spiral notebook and a pen, everywhere.

819 Alex C. March 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I use a small notebook to add important information in related to my field of work on occasion. It’s smaller and easier to use instead of typing it into a computer.

820 Binh Nguyen March 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I have always wanted to keep a journal of the events in my life, so I started a blog 2 years ago. It was completely unsuccessful. Every time I try to submit an entry, I would get writer’s block. Not only that, I am limited, in a sense that I have to be next to my computer. So I stopped blogging after about a month of effort.

As of right now, I am a Chemistry Ph.D. candidate. Graduate school has been extremely stressful, so I have returned to journaling. In this case, it’s more of a way to relieve stress than recording my “eventful” laboratory life. Since I’m always cooped up in lab, 10 hours/day, I am rarely by my computer. I resolved that problem by purchasing a moleskine notebook. It’s small enough that I can carry it around with me at all times without much issues. Also, it doesn’t run on battery.

During that time, I became interested in fountain pens because of their coolness and smooth writing. Took a dive and brought the first fountain pen I could find. I been hooked on fountain pens ever since.

I used to use google calendar exclusively for my daily planning. However, as with the issue with journaling, I would need access to the internet or some form of material with a battery. I easily solved that problem when I brought a Exacompta Space 24 weekly desk planner to schedule my life whenever and wherever.

So basically for more flexibility and conveniences, I mostly use pen and paper. I seldomly go on my computer now, only to check emails and selected websites (like AoM).

Now if only my penmenship was better…

821 Benjamin March 11, 2011 at 8:53 pm

How do I snap myself out of the whole digital routine? I get the hell away from society and technology and find perfect solitude in the mountains. I’m lucky. I live in East Tennessee and I have the Great Smokey Mountains in my backyard. After spending Monday through Friday at work and only corresponding with my friends via Facebook and Email, I gather up my journal and pen, stuff ‘em in my backpack with a hearty lunch and take off on a short hike in the mountains. There I find complete solace and am able to truly concentrate on writing in my journal.

822 Ben March 11, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I carry a pen I enjoy writing with in my pocket at all times. Usually, a Pentel RSVP – I prefer something with a very fine point. An old, US made Cross ballpoint is definitely my preference but they’re hard to find and keep in good shape in my pocket.

My pad of choice is the 5×8, squared notebook by Moleskine.

823 Reagan March 11, 2011 at 11:13 pm

I work support for a website, so I spend a lot of my day in front of a screen answering emails. I have paper all over my desk! As the day progresses, I find myself doodling, signing my name, writing things down, anything to get my eyes off of a screen and a pen in my hand. I find writing and sketching to be a way to clear my head and focus. I’m also an artist, so I always have a sketch journal handy.
Writing with your hands is much more personal and meaningful to me because of my job, whenever I need to write something important like for school or my blog, I always write it by hand first when I can.

824 Mr. Blather March 11, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I use fountain pens to scribble on notepads I’ve assembled myself from old school handouts. As a break, and to actually create something useful, I’ve also tried my hand at stitching and assembling my own pocket notebooks. The results were rough (to be kind to the point of denial) but functional.

825 Joe March 12, 2011 at 12:05 am

I love the Rite in the Rain books!

826 Asim Kumandan March 12, 2011 at 3:38 am

I am an EMT by trade and by nature, so naturally things of note happen to me day to day. My favorite manner of insuring that i don’t lose these memories if a parker jotter and a moleskine cahier it fits perfectly in my back pocket. Its my little cool down ritual after a hairy call just to jot down my stories my thoughts and my favorite quotes, so I can get back out there with a fresh mind.

827 EG March 12, 2011 at 5:03 am

I keep a notebook next to the computer to write my thoughts down. When I find a worthwhile article online, I write it down in the notebook whether it be all or just what I need. If the article has any pictures associated with them, I copy them down as well to the best of my ability. Oh, and I also copy down the website down, along with time and date, in case I need to look it up again.

828 Adam March 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

I use a Pilot G-2 and a regular one subject notebook to write down anything important to me throughout my day, the G-2 I like a lot because it writes like a fountain pen, but feels like a ball point.

829 Jiovanie March 12, 2011 at 9:44 am

I like to use my skeletool to start the flow of red ink on my fingertip and scrawl hastily written notes on the walls. It gets me some strange looks sometimes, and makes it difficult to write in privacy.

830 Ray Mastromonaco March 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

I used to have this brown leather wrap-around journal. I’ve been trying to find that exact type of journal for years to no avail

831 KMT March 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I’ve been writing since my mom gave me a diary in exchange for my Halloween candy when I was six. I have a collection of full journals spanning my life. When LiveJournal first started, I created one and found myself writing in that more than on paper. After a couple years, I stopped using my LJ because I noticed I was editing “for my audience”, though I was still intending to write for my own edification.

Years later, I’m still writing in my journals: one for my [near] daily wrap-ups and contemplations, one for my out-of-house musings, and one for my quick notes and ideas that I want to elaborate on later. The first is definitely the most fancy since I rarely take it out of the house [and tend to write in it first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening]; the middle is a Moleskin with no dates and a truly random assortment of thoughts; the latter is a pocket-sized softbacked thing that gets full quickly. I do have a smartphone, but when I resort to noting something in there, I use the pen tool so I’m still, you know, “writing” by hand.

832 Andrew March 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I’ve actually always been a hand-writer. I just can’t come up with good ideas staring at a computer screen. All of my papers in college were written by hand first. I guess a good tip is always to have a pen or pencil and a notebook/journal in easy reach at all times. I have several journals at all times, one by my bed, one by my computer, and one that I carry with me. I also use different journals for different things. For example, personal thoughts will generally go in one journal and another will contain ideas for stories that I want to work on or parts of the ones I’m working on(I’m an aspiring author).

833 Dan March 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I carry a small notebook in my pocket at all times – a Moleskine Squared Cashier Journal to be specific. I find that having it readily available at all times lets me write down random bits of information as they come to me. I haven’t gotten into journaling my life so much, but it’s something I’d like to start doing. I believe leaving a full view of who I am – imperfections and all – for my children is important.

834 brendan richards March 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

i carry a 3.5″x4″ pocket memo book everywhere i go. there have been so many times it has come in handy, whether writing down dimensions for new blinds or brainstorming ideas for work. i need to find where they sell these rite in the rain memo books.

835 Tommy March 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Just do it. Journaling is a great experience that lets you later reflect on how you felt at key moments…. I am a college student who busts out a lot of code so getting away from typing is therapeutic for the old hands as well.

836 Spencer March 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I practice my fencing lunges. It gets the blood flowing nicely.

837 Paul Hakel March 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm

To snap myself out of the digital writing routine, I try to write my ideas in other languages – and I don’t mean just English or French, but music or love or skateboarding or art. Have you ever tried learning the deaf-blind alphabet? We could learn to convey language through smells – imagine doing math by smelling – orange peel + orange peel = apple. The screen is limited because it’s locked in to a pattern, but our bodies and minds have a greater capacity for symbolically conveying the world in countless, boundless ways!

838 Jeff Collier March 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I’ve been something of a fan of the entry level Levenger fountain pens for a while. I feel like Harold from that childrens’ story with my purple ink. That, coupled with one of the thin softcover Moleskin shirt pocket notebooks, are what I refer to as my “brain.”

I keep a nice, leather bound Crane notebook for desktop journaling.

839 Melvin Love March 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

That’s is what I do every-time I step out of the house. If a idea comes along, a story in my head or on the road pops and even some places I been to I want to remember for next time. It always good to keep a pen and book handy.

840 Rob Pryor March 12, 2011 at 6:14 pm

I’ve found that a nice legal pad, and a good ink pen always do the trick for me. Whether it’s a college writing assignment, my evaluation, or anything else, I can count on those two tools to help spring me back to literary ability.

841 JP March 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Engineers like myself like using the B-9 quad, or simple ruled notebook. It was promoted to us in university to keep a notebook to keep track of off hand ideas, invoices, concepts, calculations.

I have about 6 full ones that i often refer back to, saying “hmm, feels like i’ve already worked this out?”, and within 10 minutes I find exactly what i’m searching for. I keep a journal in a moleskine, they are the best.

I cannot suggest enough getting a really good pen, it makes the act of writing enjoyable and more than just an exercise…my grandmother gave me a montblanc for graduation and writing with that is an experience.

842 BB March 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I do a lot of writing, both analytical essays for school and more creative projects; I find myself scribbling ideas in the margins of notebooks quite a bit. I definitely need to upgrade to a nice journal or notepad. A friend gave me a fountain pen as a gift, I don’t really do it justice though.

843 Randall Mark March 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I was in the habit of carrying a small notebook that would fit in my shirt pocket every day, then my wife bought me an iPhone for my birthday. Honestly, I liked the notebook better, for most things. Time to carry both.

844 Nate Gilbert March 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm

I just use a basic G2 pen and composition book.

845 Ted J. March 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Being a student, I am almost forced to become dependent on technology. I have circumvented this by buying a desktop computer so that I CAN’T cary my computer with me 24/7. (My iPhone let’s me use the internet if I really have to anyway.) Along with my class notes and casebooks, I carry around a small pocket notebook in my bag, which I use to jot down anything that comes to me over the course of the day, whether it be a particularly inspirational quote I heard, or just that I need to pick up milk on my way home.

846 Alistair March 13, 2011 at 12:48 am

The G-2 Pilot 07 is my favorite pen. It’s got a lovely heft to it, writes beautifully, and has a good grip. I write in a composition notebook, but I would love to change that by winning one of those mantastic journals…

847 Gil March 13, 2011 at 12:59 am

I find the simplest ways are the best, and the easiest. A pack of spiral top small memo pads cost around 3 for $1, and pens are everywhere. I use them for everything from to do lists, to groceries, to ideas and song lyrics. They fit easily in your pocket and being so cheap, there’s no reason to be without one. Of course I wouldn’t pass on that nifty journal either.

848 Cisco March 13, 2011 at 1:19 am

I work from home managing a website so naturally I Email and txt all day. I also have a 2 year old who wakes up at 7 so I wake up at 6:15 and force my tired brain to think enough to drink coffee, and if I get to that point write in my cheap journal with a very nice mont blanc pen that was given as a gift.

849 Patrick Haley March 13, 2011 at 1:30 am

5 tips you forgot to mention:

1. Make it a habit, write everyday.

2. Don’t write anything you don’t want your wife or significant other to read, unless it’s in code.

3. Don’t be afraid to doodle in your Col. Littelton No. 9 journal just because it cost you $150. Some of the greatest ecological observations were made by amateur naturalist and avid doodler David Attenborough. His works are still cited by ecologists today.

4. Don’t use your journal as a coaster and for the love of God don’t spill beer on it.

5. Don’t let any pansy tell you writing isn’t manly.

850 Cody March 13, 2011 at 1:47 am

I’ve taken to keeping a dream journal on my nightstand. Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night thanks to some dream of R’yleh deep, I’ll scribble down the bits that seemed to be the most important. Mostly it’s gibberish, but there’s occasionally a rare gem that makes for a good story.

851 Mike Duty March 13, 2011 at 6:54 am

I have a small journal I try to write in several times a week. I write freelance for the Internet and I’m working on the next “Great American Novel”. But, I’ve found that when I write something out by hand, it puts my brain in high gear. I outline scenes and chapters on notebook paper with a pen. Somtimes in my novel when I’m trying to dscribe a place in detail, I sketch it out by hand first and use it as a reference especially if I keep coming back to that place.

852 Anders March 13, 2011 at 8:30 am

I usually buy Moleskines, for all my writing, doodling, journaling and intellectual storage. Because they’re so expensive I feel like i HAVE to use them. Otherwise it would be such a waste of money.

I pair them up with any decent pencil, but I am thinking of switching to a ballpoint just because of the improved writing speed.

853 Nick C March 13, 2011 at 10:03 am

I have been using a fountain pen since High School, I like the idea of taking some time to think about what I write and making it look good when I do. There is something very enjoyable about refilling a fountain pen and thinking about what you have written with it. I have always wanted to write a journal, but have felt the trivial activities of the day less than worthy of record, but after spending a semester in college in Africa (being required to keep a journal) it is wonderful to be able to go back and remember what happened each day of such a journey. Thanks for encouraging guys to keep up this pastime!

854 Patrick March 13, 2011 at 11:06 am

I’ve been writing in a journal since 2002. Sometimes there have been enormous gaps in between entries, and sometimes I wrote pages and pages every day. At first it was used as an outlet to work through a rough break-up, but later on became something I saw as being a chronicle of that exact moment, time, and place. I always use disposable black pens. No other color pen is acceptable. There are times now that I will force myself to answer random questions to start the writing process. While I may start with “What color is your floor right now?” it sometimes ends up letting out some deeper thoughts out through a stream of conscious thought process.

855 Brian March 13, 2011 at 11:34 am

I love using the Mirado Black Warrior HB 2 pencils for jotting down notes, ideas or even drawing sketches. They remind of me grade school and the nostalgia makes it worth while when the tip dulls and you go to the table top mounted sharpner to sharpen it back up.

856 Paulke March 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I use a spiral bound notebook and ultra-fine point pen to keep notes in. It comes to my meetings and sits near my phone at work, so I’m always able to jot down a quick note. Since my job requires me to be in front of the computer most of the time, I tend to go between typing and writing as the day goes on.

857 Jon March 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I personally journal everyday if I can find the time. If I fail to journal I feel as if I missed a part of my day. It helps me to calm down after a long day and reflect and think about what happened and what was important to me and why. Also I jot down important dates in the front of my journal for quick reference when i need them.

858 John March 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I’m on my computer constantly and agree that writing by hand brings out more creative thoughts and ideas. Some ways I get myself off the company and into the paper are ;use 3×5 cards to jot down key concepts and ideas. I will also write key words or stories I want to include. Once I emptied my brain on the cards, I arrange them in order I want and begin my writing. Another method is used us mindmapping. It’s a visual way to get my thoughts out. I simply write the main thought in the middle then out down related thoughts all over the page. I then connect the words and thoughts with lines to complete the assocuations. Lastly, old fashioned discipline does the trick. At my company we have introduced technology free meetings and retreats where all we are allowed to bring open and paper. Without the temptation of your computer or ipad, you will be amazed at how much writing you can do!

859 Peter March 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I’ve been journaling for about a year and a half. There have been times of big stretches in between entries, but I’m trying to get more into the habit of writing. Many days feel like they shouldn’t be written about, but I think it will be cool down the road for my children or others to get a picture of what I was doing in my earlier days. I love writing about my travels and look forward to one day being able to read about crazy things that I have done or have yet to do!

860 Caleb Pearson March 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I keep a little notebook with me at all times to write things down in. Actually, I have two. One for random thoughts, observations, and lists. Another for jotting down important journal articles/scientific papers while at work. I also like to use a pencil to write with. Mostly, I use field notes brand pencils and journals, although the rite in the rain notebooks look interesting as well. I’d love to have a Col Littleton Leather Journal. Very nice looking…

861 Mike March 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I carry around a Staedtler Integrity mechanical pencil, and 5-10 note cards binder clipped together. Whenever I have an idea or drawing that comes to mind, I sketch it, then scan it when I get home. The pencil forces me to put my ideas into action quickly, because words don’t last long in my back pocket.

862 Mark March 13, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I carry around a Moleskin book (poket size) and a pen for jotting down ideas, keeping track of things to do and to sketch anything that looks interesting.

863 Randy March 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I have a pocket Moleskine that I keep in my leather bag for work, and I always carry a small leather notebook that my grandfather gave me when I was 12. I carry it in my back pocket with my aluminum space pen. I make habits of writing down ideas, and thoughts throughout the day. When the notebook runs out of paper, I simply use three sheets of resume paper to make a new 36 sheet book to insert into the leather cover.

864 Matthew March 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I’ve just recently started writing with fountain pens, but what really snapped me out of typing everything was the Moleskine pocket journal my mother got me for Christmas last year. I’ve since filled it up and started using more fountain pen-friendly paper, but the whole process of writing things by hand has stuck with my since that Moleskine.

Also, I just want to add a comment that I’m sure has been addressed already, but Rite in the Rain notebooks are NOT fountain pen-friendly. Just a heads up!

865 David March 13, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Fountain Pens, from disposable to high end. Brush Tips sometimes for fun. Pencils, when mistakes are bound to happen.

Rhodia, Mnemoysne, Whitelines, Moleskine, and other spiral, stable, and bound notebooks. And no, you can’t have to many ready to go.

I am reminded of the scene, Joe and The Volcano, where he buys the luggage: Each situation requires thought of what pen, paper, pad and size will be appropriate.

866 Matt March 13, 2011 at 11:51 pm

While typing is a little bit easier for me, theres nothing quite like the written word. From time to time when reading the Bible or listening to podcasts I like to break out a simple composition notebook to write my thoughts in. a composition notebook is my escape from the digital press.

867 Jensen March 14, 2011 at 12:40 am

I usually have a standard college-ruled notepad with me at work (teaching). I jot down ideas, write short drafts and often sketches to go along with them. I am glad you included pens in this list, I think the right pen (for me its often a trusty pilot pen) is critical. If your hand is comfortable and the ink flows smooth, you can focus on thinking rather than writing. I dream of using a moleskin notebook (or the like), and have made a few attempts to get one at a local Borders but they were always sold out of the size I wanted. Perhaps in the future.

868 David Lowry March 14, 2011 at 12:49 am

Great article. I have to say that as much as I like typing, I also keep a journal and write in it almost daily. Been doing it since about 2006.

Nothing will replace good old pen and paper for getting things off your chest and onto paper.

Love me a quality pen too. Those Embassy pen’s are great.

869 Jason T March 14, 2011 at 1:39 am

I recently just purchased a leather-bound journal from Barnes&Noble. Every time I spy the journal resting on my desk it encourages me to write. Usually, I draft blogs or essays for class on paper before transferring the draft to digital print. Although I am 20, I prefer writing over typing any day. The ever-lasting, personal qualities of writing can never be completely eradicated by the generic capacities of digital print. Also, I am attempting to write more letters thanks to the articles and stationary promotions on AOM.

870 Steven C March 14, 2011 at 1:53 am

Being an engineering student, I like to keep a pad of graph paper, a 3mm mechanical pencil and a straight edge around all the time. Sure, I could put it in cad, but nothing makes you contemplate each aspect of your design like drawing every single line by hand.

871 Frank March 14, 2011 at 2:33 am

I love writing with a vintage Sheaffer Balance fountain pen. As a father of four young children, I keep four separate journals, one for each child. I use the journals as a way to write to each child personally, whether thoughts about things happening to them, recording their accomplishments, giving encouragement, or giving them fatherly advice that I hope and pray they will take to heart and find helpful in life. I hope to fill these journals and present them to each child just prior to entering adulthood. Hopefully, it’s something they will cherish and pass on to their own children.

872 Michael March 14, 2011 at 4:32 am

I have a collection of fountain pens (American, German, and Chinese made) that I rotate and in which I use a variety of Noodler’s inks for its “bulletproof” qualities. I write in Moleskine “extra-large plain black cahiers” bought from eBay.

873 Ariel March 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

I always have a pen or pencil and notepad. I have one beside my bed for any emergency or inspirational moment. I keep one in my breast pocket of my uniform to keep track of work. I have one on my work desk where I do a daily log of my work day. It saved my behind so many times because I was able to keep up to date on the important jobs. I also keep one for my moment of inspirations, notes and doodles.

I always buy a nice pen. I just like having a nice pen around. It seems that the wife thought also and seems to end up with my nice pens.

I also have a wall calendar that I write my work schedule, important events, world events and just help me keep track that a digital pad never able to match.

My main thing I do to break my digital writing fog is to go to my favorite coffee shop and sit down and write while drinking coffee. Yes the wife also accompany me, but she clean and organize her hand bag and sort out mail. maybe it is the wife that helps the most since she keeps me off the computer and cell phone.

874 Andrew March 14, 2011 at 10:36 am

Not so practical, but I use post-it’s. They are always with me and I can just fold one up and put it in my wallet to transfer later…

875 Matthew March 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

I carry a moleskin notebook in my back pocket almost all the time. As the above article mentioned, you never know when inspiration will strike for that grand idea that can change many things in the world or your life.

876 Nic F March 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I keep myself from just typing notes and essays by drawing sketches, diagrams etc. This helps me stay focused on whatever it is I am doing (well it usually does…), and it really helps staying awake in a boring class. I also have a pretty awesome pen, not sure exactly what model because I bought it years ago when I was in middle school. I tried starting a journal, but it I never really got into it.

877 Tim March 14, 2011 at 12:20 pm

During my morning devotions I write the verse included to help me remember and to increase the skill of my handwriting. I also summarize/add ideas for each chapter of whatever book I am reading (currently Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce). I only use a pencil and notecard because it’s what I can afford!!

878 Brannigan March 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I carry a Moleskin notebook wherever I go to jot down what comes to me. I also like to print my second draft and revise it by hand, to keep me from relying too much on the auto spellcheck.

879 Brian March 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Cassette recorder in the car. An hour on the freeway puts me in a meditative state where I can speak from the heart.

880 Matthew March 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I’ve been using a Cross pen that my Dad gave me when I went off to college, told me to always use a good pen for writing test essays. I always have some sort of notebook with me, and always use that pen to sign important papers.

881 Anthony Mahramus March 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I like writing out my notes and ideas on a mini-legal pad as opposed to using Word or Stickies because I have more of a free-reign universe on a pad. I can jot notes in sideways, draw arrows, circles, connect dots if I’m so inclined. Once the ideas have been dumped, then I can make a nice-looking spread on the screen.

882 Alex March 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I carry a moleskine everywhere I go with a pencil to write done any thoughts or things I want to research during some downtime. I journal my day on a Miquelrius notebook with an old Shaeffer fountain pen that was my grandfather’s. Digital is nice but nothing compares to the feel of pen/pencil to paper.

883 Tim Wasem March 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Tul rollerball pens and a homemade journal (http://michaelshannon.us/makeabook/). And it’s always better to write at a clean desk with a good view, or sitting outside in the grass.

884 Thom March 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Taking a trip (especially a flight) sans laptop helps me break my techno-gaze and gets the words flowing from pen to paper.

885 James March 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I carry my trusty notebook and at least 2 pens with me everywhere I go. When someone tells me something important, gives me instructions, or asks me to remember something, I pull it out and write it down. Often times this is in a casual situation as opposed to a full blown notepad used for class and such. As a 19 year old college student, people are always surprised when I do that. It has quite an interesting effect though. It gives people the impression that I care about what they have to say, even if at the time I don’t. Besides, maybe one day that information WILL be important. Pulling out an iPhone or some other piece of technology sends off a completely different message, as even if your intentions are good, people often times think you are ignoring them to send off a text. As one must give respect to receive respect, I have found writing things down is a great way to let people know you are professional and serious about what you do.

And in reference to the notebook itself, expense is not important. I go to the local drug store’s school supplies section and pick up the small spiral-bound ones for about a dollar. These will rip if you pull them in and out of your pocket constantly, so I cover all of mine in a few strips of duct tape. I attach it to the top of the first page; work it all the way around the inside, then outside of the cover, over the spirals, and around the back cover fastening it to the back page. This makes these one dollar notebooks close to indestructible. And what is more manly than duct tape? As an added bonus, I have had a couple people make a go at my back pocket looking for my wallet and pulled out the notepad instead.

886 Michael March 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

To break out of writer’s block, oftentimes I’ll just sit down and write whatever crosses my mind. Many times this will bring up a subject I can write on. If that doesn’t work, and I really must write something, playing music will usually trigger the desired response.

887 Matthew J. Denton March 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I use a moleskine and a v5.

888 Randy P. Valcin II March 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Not only do I use a fountain pen and a leather-covered journal, I also carry a pocket notebook on me at all times. A dear friend of mine lives in the U.K. and she always enjoys receiving letters from me written in fountain pen.

889 Evan B. March 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm

As a college freshman, I carry and use one of my two Lamy fountain pens. They look super-refined, write extremely well, and cost even less than the $50 figure given for lower range fountain pens. I got one for Christmas three years ago, love it, and asked for a new one last year. Perfect for even daily use – I always have one in my pocket and they write and look like new.

As far as paper, I don’t have fine stationery or anything, but I like to write letters on white printer paper. In addition to being cheap and extremely available, it 1) gives me a way to get back at computers for stealing writing, and 2) reminds me that there was a time when grown humans could write neatly on paper that didn’t have lines.

The pocket notebook is great, but I often leave it at home. Plan B for those novel on-the-go ideas: the backs of old receipts I have stuffed in my wallet.

890 Mark J March 14, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I actually use a notepad to keep quick ideas or important events fresh in memory.

891 Brandon B March 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

One of the biggest ways I have of breaking my self from the usual digital habit of writing is carrying a pocket notebook with me to write down ideas in where ever I go. Not to mention in a time where students in college carry their laptops to class to take notes, I still use my trusty pencil and notebooks. However, I never had much luck in starting a journal, but maybe such journal as this one would be the motivation I would need to do such a milestone.

892 Daniel Barnett March 14, 2011 at 9:22 pm

To break myself (at least part of the time) of my digital writing habit, I keep a book of quotation, to which I add interesting, profound, or downright hilarious snippets from my favorite books/films/interviews, or day-to-day conversations. A book such as this is a great way to keep words of wisdom or favorite anecdotes all in one place, but, as I’m near filling it up, a handsome notebook – such as the one above – would be a great way to keep this tradition going!

893 Thomas Belasco March 14, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I too started writing with a fountain pen in high school. I have a few favorites as I sit grading papers with a Parker 51. My students are always amazed that I put so much stock in taking the time to write. I have journaled on and off for years. The act of writing tends to slow me down and keep me calm. I will not even get started about when I use a wax seal on letters.

894 Ernest March 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Marble cover composition notebooks for longer work, leather-bound journal for shorter ones, and I usually write with a bic medium red pen – until the ink runs out. Also, any scrap of paper will do when the mood strikes.

895 Kevin Guidroz March 14, 2011 at 10:34 pm

I keep a fountain pen near me on my desk and another on my nightstand. I keep notebooks handy for work and personal notes. A pack of blank 3×5 cards on the desk is ideal for short notes to family members or to-do lists for myself. To snap out of a rut; I will mix a custom ink color, or hydrate writing fluid from the mid-1900s, experiment with ink viscosity, or repair/refurbish a vintage fountain pen.

896 Daniel Crandall March 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I recently began a journal, which I’m using as part of my Lenten journey. It isn’t nearly as fancy as the Col. Littleton Journal, above, but it gets the job done. I’ve found, much to my distress, that my skill at cursive writing has diminished dramatically over the years. That doesn’t keep my from penning my conversations with God in my Lenten journal. Nor do I take the easy way out. I keep practicing, and have noticed, even after only a few days, that it does come back.

So if you begin your journal and discover that cursive writing has gone by the wayside over the years, don’t despair. Keep at it. Soon you’ll re-discover the joys of cursive letters.

897 Bill March 14, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I have a dozen small pads stashed right behind my desk. About half of them have topics written across their tops with the other half ‘held in reserve’ for future general topics. When I need to “think on paper” I grab the stack and check to see if I’ve got a pad started for the topic at hand, if so, I can leaf through previous musings and add to them as needed. If not, I grab a Sharpie marker and start a new pad. The whole system is simple and inexpensive enough that I don’t mind committing a new pad whenever the muse strikes.

I have a friend who makes custom journals such as is offered here. (Her work “Is That Good” and will be a featured product in Oprah’s next bride issue. This is not a paid placement … Oprah liked the book and bought it.) Here’s the link, in case you don’t win the Colonel’s, but would like to own one similar to it. http://www.etsy.com/shop/lapaperie?ga_ref=auto&ga_search_query=leather+journal+handmade&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmade

898 Jim Fields March 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I, too, have used a fountain pen since high school, and I love it. I use a Waterman Phileas, and Pilot makes a good disposable fountain pen: the Varsity.

899 Dan March 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Printed out crossword. Fill that in with good ole ink and it sharpens the mind up for some real prose

900 Austin K. March 15, 2011 at 12:43 am

I personally use a combination of a Moleskine pocket notebook and one of those small Mead notebooks. Together with a Fischer Bullet Space Pen, they really have me covered for most of the places that I go to. I hope that I win this contest!

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