Alex Chiri's Blog

Writing as a way of thinking

After so many years of almost not writing by hand at all, I have rediscovered it as a simple, cheap, distraction-free way of thinking.

I get a lot of thoughts through my mind, just like anybody else. But few of these thoughts I explore further. Some are ideas of something interesting to try out, some are worries or negative thoughts. Some come and go, some stick around the back of my mind. Some I wish to pursue further, but find it hard to start, some I know from the start they are made to be forgotten.

When I was doing some cleaning around my desk, I found an old Parker fountain pen and an empty Clairefontaine notebook. And I suddenly got an idea: what if I tried to write down some of my ideas in a notebook and try to expand them a bit more on paper. See where that takes me.

This was a very attractive proposition, for several reasons:

  1. I like pens of any kind, but fountain pens have a certain allure for me. How that wet paint flows on the paper has a hypnotizing effect for me. I particularly like the pens that leave a lot of ink on paper when writing. When building a new habit, it's important to like at least some parts of the activity you want to constantly be doing.
  2. It's cheap and easily available to me, so if it doesn't work out, not a huge loss.
  3. It's distraction-free. Paper notebooks have no WiFi or apps and don't require anything else than something to write with. I tried a similar approach using a computer and I found it very hard to stay focused, it is very easy to get distracted by some notification or remember about something else to do.
  4. It's very portable. Not as portable as a phone, but not far from it. I can write almost anywhere.

I got started with writing pretty much anything. Either for journaling and examine some of my thoughts, either for what might become a blog post or simple exploration without a set purpose and constraints. I have filled a notebook in a week! And it went beyond my expectations. How come I didn't think of this earlier?

Encouraged by this success, I decided to do some small investments to the setup. My old Parker pen wasn't that great and I started doing some research. Which led me to discover some awesome cheap pens from a Chinese brand called TWSBI. They are absolutely brilliant! Their focus is on function and price and not on looks. Exactly what I was searching for. They write great and they are easy to use, so I have about 4 of them. Why 4 you might ask?

Well, right around this time I realized that in fountain pen world, there are tens of options of colors to choose from and not just black, blue black and a few others. How exciting! So I chose a few colors I found attractive to write with from a British ink producer called Diamine. They are available in small bottles (great for trying out new colors without breaking the bank), easily available in Stockholm ( delivers fast and has most of their colors) and they are cheap. Plus, they seem to work well with the TWSBI pens.

I find this a very relaxing habit and in some cases it produces something worth exploring further or to publish in a blog post, just like this one!

For blog posts, I usually leave them a bit before I transcribe them on the computer. This gives me some time to rethink them and already improve and edit them when they become digital.

Who would've thought I would enjoy writing on paper so much? And the best part is that I have 0 (zero) expectations from it. It is what it is.