Pen & Paper  

Every week, I receive an e-mail from Kickstarter. My friend has backed a new project—not just any project, but a pen.

I did not really understand the allure of having high-end pens. Don’t you just lose them? I own dozens of one specific pen: the 0.38mm Pilot G-2 with black ink.

And what is the deal with Moleskine notebooks? People obsess over pens and seem to entirely ignore paper. Isn’t the paper just as mighty as the pen? I do not understand why you’d want a notebook that was not spiral bound. Moleskine notebooks are thread bound, which always makes it awkward to write on the left side (as a right-handed person) of the notebook. It’s tough to write on only 50 percent of the pages.

And still the Kickstarter e-mails persisted.

And these weren’t just pens; they were titanium pens. They were titanium pens that told the story of being able to use any ballpoint ink insert you desire. Suddenly, you can have 0.38mm pens in an enclosure that consists of something other than plastic and cheap rubber.

But I’ve always figured that the problem with pens that cost more than a dollar is that, well, you lose them at the same rate you lose pens that cost less than a dollar.

I had always liked my cheap pens, but I had always cared about the paper. Let me tell you: it’s incredibly difficult to find a notebook that fits—a hard backed, spiral bound, squared notebook that was smaller than A4 that held paper that did not bleed and was affordable enough to have three or four of on hand at any given time.

For the past year, I have been using—and every time I used, have appreciated—the Delfonics RollBahn Ring Notebook. The $13 seems insanely expensive, but I have found that with note taking, you primarily just take a page (or fewer) of notes. If you’re good at taking notes, as I am—the most important thing is to have different notebooks for different topics, such as product design, sales meetings, sketches, and so on.

The Kickstarter e-mails persisted.

Eventually I relented, and I, too, backed a pen. By this point, my friend had backed a dozen or more pens! I even e-mailed the Kickstarter creator to verify that this pen would indeed work with my precious 0.38mm Pilot G-2 inserts.

In classic Kickstarter fashion, it took two quarters before I actually received it, but at last, I now have a pen.

So now I had my trusted paper and a pen—a pen that was milled from a singular piece of grade 4 titanium, bead blasted to chrome, and then sprayed a matte black.

To call this pen nice is an understatement. Apple might be missing a trick by making its devices lighter. My dear Keats, a heavy thing of beauty is a joy forever!

But why bother? Why bother spending any money or thought on pen and paper? Because, I’ve found that having a pen and paper that you enjoy actually makes you use them both a lot more.

I’ve never been able to prototype product on the computer; it always felt too clunky, too slow. Similarly, if you are in a meeting or—as I noticed during Y Combinator at a talk—typing on a laptop seems like a sure way to miss 70 percent of the content. I think typing encourages you to write more, to write for the sake of writing rather than for taking notes.

A pen and paper is beautifully minimalist allowing you to focus on what really matters: the person in front of you.


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