Do you still need carry around a pen today? The answer is absolutely and your should have one at all times!
Perhaps you have heard one too many pieces of advice regarding the equipment that we tote around every day and have become cynical. Tips like “always bring a water bottle”, “always bring business cards”, and “always bring Kleenex” are either obvious for their own sake, or too limited in their value to be of much use in many situations. Yet one simple object can always be valuable across many different scenarios: a high-quality pen.
Mightier Than the Sword
To explain how valuable a pen can be, let’s start with the value of writing out words and letters by hand (analog writing), instead of using a smart phone or computer (digital writing). Psychologists have demonstrated that analog writing invokes muscle memory in a way that digital writing does not. As a result, it is easier to remember something that you have written down than any text you have slapped into a Microsoft Word document.
Furthermore, analog writing is a tactile experience that brings in many senses. The physical sensation of touching pen to paper can produce satisfaction, as anyone who prefers physical books to e-books knows well, especially in comparison to hitting hard plastic. The same is true for the smell of paper.
When it comes to organizing your thoughts, less is more. Any person who has ever used a word processor knows how frustrating it is when you cannot simply reach through the screen and change something to what you want. Whether you are facing an autocorrect, a numbered list that has the wrong numbers, a paragraph indent that stretches too far, or a font that simply looks ridiculous, a pen provides certainty that a computer cannot. On top of that, hand-written notes never disappear once the server dies or the software permissions expire.
If you pick up another piece of written material, like a book, you can easily add notes or highlight important sections. By contrast, highlighting material in a book using a computer requires a scanner and a PDF reader.
Finally, the hand-written notes that you accumulate with a pen provide a legacy, one that you can hold in your hand, and whether you keep an intense diary or simply jot down a few ideas for Christmas presents, it is always valuable and satisfying to look them over and think about how life has changed since you put ink to paper.
A Pen to Call Your Own
Keeping a personal pen for writing’s sake is quite useful. But the benefits extend past the words on paper. For starters, a personal pen reflects who you are. If you are thrifty, ballpoint pens for a dollar a pack represent your ability to save money. If you are artistic, a custom pen reflects your interests and your style. If you want to project a persona, matching your pen to your wardrobe is a great way to make an impression.
A personal pen also provides tangible benefits, primarily convenience. Pulling out a phone, punching in a password, connecting to WiFi, searching for the right app, and hammering away at keys is an intensive, at times exhausting experience, with ample room for error along the way. By contrast, pulling a pen from a pocket requires little effort and time.
A personal pen is also a major step up in terms of cleanliness. Perhaps you have heard the statistic that our smart phones have more germs on their surface than a toilet seat. That’s the result of hours of touching and very little cleaning; having to use another person’s phone or keyboard to writing digital notes means coming into contact with anything their own immune system could not fight off. A personal pen makes it easy for no-contact exchanges with members of the public.
A Useful Tool
It should be noted that a pen’s utility is not limited to writing. Far from it: the small, long, cylindrical shape with the (somewhat) sharp tip makes a pen a useful tool for many purposes. Opening a letter with a pen is easier than having to pull apart an envelope and risk a papercut. A pen lets you dig into a crawlspace or below a door when your own fingers do not fit. A pen can be a miniature spear in a pinch, letting you pick up everything you may not want to touch with your own fingers. Finally, a pen is an excellent distraction device when bored: teaching yourself to flip it through your fingers provides endless amusement when you have to listen against your will to someone droning on and on.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights, and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his client’s websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.