My New Propelling Pencil And What It Taught Me
By Ruth Barringham
Last week I bought a new pencil.
I went looking in the Officeworks Store and they have a HUGE amount of pencils to choose from. In fact, they have a huge choice of everything you might need in your office, including a kettle and a toaster.
Eventually I came across propelling pencils, which are often called mechanical pencils. They are the type of pencil that looks like a pen and I just click the end and it feeds out more lead. It also came with extra 4 extra leads stored inside it, and I bought two extra packets (36 leads in each) as well, just to make sure I wouldn’t run out any time soon.
I like to use a pencil when I’m writing because they are so easy to use, with no pressure needed, and when I’m writing up to 20 hand-written pages a day, I need something easy to hold and use, so the propelling pencil suits me just fine because
- I don’t need to stop and sharpen it
- It doesn’t shrink as I use it
- If I make a mistake I can erase it
- Feels nice to hold
- Writing flows onto the page with no pressure at all.
When I got home I couldn’t wait to try it out, so I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and just started writing, which also had a great after-effect that I’ll tell you about after you read the nonsense that I sat down and wrote in just 5 minutes as soon as I got home with my new pencil. Just remember, that it’s not a great literary piece of writing. It’s just straight out of my head and onto the page:
My New Propelling Pencil
I have this new propelling pencil to write with and I can’t wait to see what a difference it makes to how much I write.
First I’ll have to get used to writing with it because it’s a propelling pencil so it’s quite different to an ordinary pencil.
But the great thing is that it will never get shorter.
I like to write with pencils because they are easy to use because, unlike a pen, I don’t need to press on the paper to literally ‘get the ball rolling’ to write anything.
While the slight pressure that’s needed to use a ball-point pen doesn’t seem like much, it is when you have a lot to write.
I used to use a fountain pen because it flows without pressure, but it’s a hassle to keep buying refills or to keep stopping to fill it with ink (and messy) plus throwing away the empty refills seems like I’m producing too much trash which goes ditto for using and throwing away ball-points pens when they’re finished.
But at least with my new propelling pencil there is very little waste, so it suits my environmental values and standards.
What this 5 minutes of writing, proved to me is that it's possible to just sit down and write even though I had no idea what I was going to write about. I just wanted to trial my new pencil.
I remembered once listening to a story about the author Joe Vitale, who once did a writing exercise (before he became a writer) and he wanted to sit and write, but he had nothing to write about. He was broke and homeless at the time.
All he had was the pencil in his hand so he wrote about that by starting with explaining what it looked like, that it had an eraser on the end and then he went on to write about all the things he could do with his pencil. He could write an article for money, or start writing a book, or even write a suicide note if he felt that way inclined.
And I felt that my small 5 minutes of writing about my new pencil not only proved to me that I can sit and write about anything, it also had a knock-on effect, because even when I’d finished my page of writing, I wanted to do some more.
And I did.
So if you find yourself unmotivated to write, just sit down and start. Write about anything at all. Describe where you are or how you’re feeling or what you’ll be doing for the rest of the day or a TV show you recently watched or a book you’ve just read.
It doesn’t matter what you write, you just have to write.
Now, pick up a pencil and write.