Using Analog Tools

Tue, Jun 8, 2021 2-minute read

For the last four years I’ve been a fountain pen user, some might even say an enthusiast. I’ve been using very old technology to help me navigate my otherwise very modern and digital world. Why? Because it makes me think… and it’s fun.

I never grew up with fountain pens. I understand that there are places in the world today that still tech kids to write with them, and that in many cases those students can’t wait to get away from these messy devices and start using something more modern like a ballpoint pen. But in Canada in the early 21st century there aren’t very many places a child is going to encounter a fountain pen in their day-to-day life. I certainly never did until I was in my teens and came across some old broken pen (what I now know to be a lever-fill model) at a garage sale. It didn’t write, so I left it behind, not realizing at the time just how neat that probably was. But as a kid I did have a love for stationery, and looked forward to back-to-school every year. Not because I’m a nerd (I am) who loved school (meh… sorta), but because it meant back-to-school shopping. I got to buy new stationery stuff.

But how does that help me now? I’ve found over the years that taking the time to use a slower method to get the words from my brain to wherever they need to be allows me to be more intentional with what I say. I end up with a better end product. It also engages my brain differently as I’m writing. Some studies have suggested that writing things out by hand, either on paper or a digital tablet, engages a different part of the brain similar to drawing. This wider engagement of the brain is helpful for learning, and potentially longer term brain health.

If you find yourself banging out tons of keystrokes every day, and you think maybe a bit more intentionality could help those keystrokes to be better, try slowing them down a bit. Try taking some handwritten notes on your fancy iPad Pro, or even pick up a pencil and an old school scrap of paper.