Which is the right tool for journaling - Pencil or Pen?
Pen Or Pencil For A Journal? Find Out Which Is Best For You

Pen Or Pencil For A Journal?

Are you a journaling beginner? Do you simply want to know what tools to choose for writing in a journal? Are you thinking of purchasing a journal to record things in your life? Are you wondering what type of journal you should get? Well, the answer to what type of journal and which tools you should use depend on what you expect from your journal.

After you’ve chosen the right style of journal, the next thing that you should consider is what writing instrument to use. The options can vary from a cheap 10 cent pencil to a Montblanc fountain pen costing thousands of dollars. While those are extremes, there are several considerations to make when you need to choose a writing instrument to get the most out of your journaling.

While it may seem trivial, it is always good to know what tools would best suit you and give you the best experience. There are many things you need to consider when you think of what writing utensil is best for you. While we can’t cover all of this in one article, if you are having trouble deciding if you should write in your journal with a pen or pencil, here are some of the pros and cons to help you with your decision.

What are the benefits of using pencils?

There are many people who enjoy using a pen for journaling. But is it the best tool? You’ve probably never thought about all the benefits of using a pencil, have you? I mean, everyone uses pens. They’re convenient and practically everywhere, after all. However, there are many reasons to use pencil for your journaling. Don’t underestimate the power of a simple pencil when making your decision.

Sometimes just the pure luxury of long beautiful pencils charges me with energy and invention.

John Steinbeck

The biggest benefit of using a pencil is that it’s the only writing device that facilitates editing. It does not matter if you write something terrible with a pencil. A quick sweep of the eraser and none will be the wiser to your worst ideas. This means you can be bold and experiment more. Now and then, this results in a touch of genius.

With ballpoint pens or fountain pens, once the ink dries, your words are set in stone. This means you’ll be less likely to play with ideas and explore paths unknown. Perhaps that’s why so many great writers like Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner preferred using pencils. The trend continues to this day with modern writers. For example, contemporary writer Toni Morrison has voiced her preference for number 2 pencils.

There are so many reasons to use a pencil, some of the main ones include:

  • They are long-lasting compared to pens,
  • They are much cheaper than pens,
  • They have a very rich tone because of the graphite
  • You can erase mistakes with ease
  • Pencils have a really nice feel about them

What are the disadvantages of using pencils?

Like every tool, pencils are not perfect and have their drawbacks. I tend to alternate between pencil and pen depending on the use. I recognize there are tradeoffs with using pencils, and you should consider these if you’re making your own decision about whether to use one.

The drawbacks include:

  • If you’re using colored pencils, they won’t erase very easily
  • Pencils wear down easily and require frequent sharpening.
  • They can smudge when you erase.
  • The tips can break and leave behind pieces of graphite if you write too hard
  • Pencil marks are not as dark as ink, so they can make your writing harder to read
  • Writing made with pencil may fade over time and become impossible to read
  • Pencils break easily and frequently. Have you ever dropped yours on the floor and had to stop your writing to sharpen your pencil? Wouldn’t have happened if you were using a pen.

What are the benefits of using pens?

There’s a reason they say “the pen is mightier than the sword”. The physical act of writing with a smooth flowing pen can be therapeutic in itself, which is reason enough to choose a pen over a pencil for some. Times when I need to slow down and be deliberate, I’ll reach for a pen. Using a pen forces me to slow down and contemplate and explore ideas more instead of just writing anything that comes to mind and editing as I go.

Then there are the other times, when I just need something short and sweet, I find I can sometimes write faster because I am not wasting time going back to revisit my wordplay.

In addition, pens have the following benefits to consider:

  • Ink won’t fade over time. Pencil marks can be rubbed away by accident and just get lighter with time.
  • Ink is permanent. Your thoughts and emotions are just as important as anything else in this world. There’s a reason important documents are signed with pen.
  • Ergonomic options are plentiful. The shape of pencils is pretty much universal, but using a pen will allow you to find the perfect fit for your comfort and ergonomic needs.
  • No sharpening required. If you have small handwriting, using a pencil can be a pain as you need to constantly make sure that it’s sharp to keep your writing legible. With pens, the stroke width is always consistent.
  • Pens can handle a lot of pressure if you’re a heavy handed writer.

What are the disadvantages of using pens?

To be fair, I have to list the cons of using a pen. I’ll start with the fact that the pens aren’t erasable like pencils are. While there have been attempts at erasable ink over the years, non have come close to matching the the ability of pencils. While this may not be a big deal in your writing (depending on your style), if you want to do any drawing in your journal, this can be a big drawback. Even historic and famous painters have started off with pencil sketches and covered them with ink or paint later.

If it were just that one drawback, it would be simple. However, there are other issues that you should consider when thinking about using pens:

  • Pens are often more expensive than pencils.
  • It’s harder to edit when you write with pens.
  • Pens can be messy, while with pencils you may also get smudges, you can simply wash your hands and all is forgiven. With pens, that smudge is basically a bad tattoo on your hand for the rest of the day.
  • Unpredictable. It’s hard to predict when a pen is going to run out of ink. This is painfully frustrating when your in the middle of a great idea and
  • Pens can bleed through your paper

Final Thoughts

My takeaways from experimenting with both is that the best tool for the job is the one that works for you. You should be open and try out different pens or pencils to see which you like best. Writing by hand helps you structure your thoughts and ideas better, so either choice will allow you to take your thoughts and your writing to new levels. Journaling allows for greater insights into what you’re thinking and feeling, because you can see things more clearly when they’re outside of your head and on paper.

So go ahead and pick up a pen or pencil and allow yourself to be more creative and spontaneous in your writing. Begin journaling because it’s your chance to be honest with yourself about what you’re thinking and feeling.

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