Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mechanical Pencil - Punctual Muse

An all too familiar addiction

Like many writers, I too share the ubiquitous affection for stationery. I usually manage to show some control, talking sternly to myself about budgetary constraints and the evils of impulse buying. Recently however, I had a major lapse. I frivolously indulged myself in a bulk pack of 40. However, I insist this is a creative revelation. 

What is not to love? They are always sharp. At the ready and ready to write. A loyal and attentive subject. I look forward to running them down a bit because then you get to click for more. This not only delivers an enormously satisfying sound and feel, but also, what seems to be a very generous amount of lead to continue on with; almost saying "I can see you're going to need this."

The power of the pencil

Does the mechanical pencil have more faith in my writing ability than me myself? It seems so. But the most glorious quality they possess, is that sound given off when you are writing feverishly. 'Titch, titch, titch' - the sound of productivity and ideas flowing freely.

Potent magic lies within the humble mechanical pencil.  Though they have a multitude of colleagues with whom to vie for position, they are the only writing items in my possession that also act as a punctual muse (because they're guaranteed to turn up late, or not at all).

The pure sensory experience of writing with a mechanical pencil seems to stimulate creativity. The more of the action I undertake, the more the ideas flow. The activity of writing enabling writing. Even if the 'titch' starts slowly and intermittently, it soon reaches a crescendo of frantic 'titch, titch, titching' and suddenly we are away!

Beyond writing

This phenomenon isn't limited to writing. How often do you reach for a pen or pencil when you are talking on the phone, or speaking to people? What is it about holding this writing instrument that gives us the power to engage?

Neuroscience agrees

Neuroscience is happy to endorse the mechanical pencil - immediate muse theory. Well, I may be paraphrasing here, but many studies have demonstrated the powerful effect that writing by hand has on the brain. More fine motor skills are involved when handwriting activating more areas of the brain. Brain scans demonstrate proof of this when compared to brain scans of a person who is typing. Writing by hand results in activation of learning pathways, stimulation of ideas and creativity, improved memory and uptake of information. 

There are also many other benefits of writing by hand, but seeing as I've justified my infatuation with the mechanical pencil I'll call the case closed. I still love my technology and find that most of my working time is spent using it. But, if I have ideas to generate and develop, I’ll be found at my writing desk, doing it by hand.