My Favorite Pen

image of Pentel Energel Alloy gel pen

So nice, I bought it twice.

I’d like to tell you about my new favorite pen.

I’ve written before about how I sketch, plot, and outline my stories using notebooks. Up until a few months ago, I’d never given much thought to what I used to write in them. That all changed when I met the Pentel EnerGel Alloy.

I ran out of crappy old ballpoint pens in my home office. Rather than just running to the pharmacy and grabbing another pack of blue&whites for $3, I thought about getting something I could refill. I knew that refillable pens could be expensive, but a quick search online showed the Alloy as the highest-rated refillable pen for under $10.

I was able to snag one at my local office supply store for around $8, with a 2-pack of .05 (fine point) refills for about $3. Overall, a good deal. Price isn’t the reason I fell in love with it though.

If you’ve never bothered to try writing with a nice pen, I HIGHLY recommend you give it a shot. It feels great, especially during extended sessions. I’ve used countless pens throughout the years both at home and work, and these are the features that have me enamored enough with this thing to write a blog post about it.

Weight & Balance

The weight and heft of the Alloy is great. It’s actually made of metal as its name implies, and you can tell. It feels incredibly sturdy, and the texture feels great on your fingers. The extra weight also gives it a nice balance as you write with it.

Ink & “Write-a-bility”

I totally just made the term “write-a-bility” up, because I could think of anything better. A big reason I chose this was the note on the package that said “No smudging. Even lefties love it!”

In a cruel twist of fate, the universe made me left-handed. It’s one of the reasons I generally avoid gel pens and pencils. Pentel was making a bold promise, but they actually delivered. They’ve designed a gel pen that even me and my cursed brethren can use without getting our backwards hands coated with shiny black ink. For this, they have a lifelong customer.

Price Point

I said price wasn’t the only determining factor, but it definitely a role in my decision. Seriously, do you know how EXPENSIVE pens can get? Don’t even get me started on the fountain pens I saw online for calligraphy. Yikes!

At just under ten bucks, the Alloy more than suits my needs, and it is just pricey enough that I’ll make sure to take care of it. Unlike most disposable pens, I make sure to put it back in its place whenever I’m done using it. I also bought a spare to bring with me, since I loved the first one so much.

 

The Pentel EnerGel Alloy is now my weapon of choice for getting words into my notebooks. I’m definitely a happy convert to owning a nice refillable pen, after slumming it with cheap, disposable BIC’s all these years.

Do you have a favorite pen? Tell me about it down in the comments!

Thoughts on Amazon Bookstores

image of amazon bookstore

via Amazaon.com

Amazon bookstores are a curiosity to me.

This article about the Amazon Bookstore “experience” from Book Riot doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the brick & mortar operations, although further digging seems to show an inherent bias against Amazon from this particular outlet.

Criticisms aside, I hope I get the opportunity to visit one of these stores. I’m interested to see how they mesh the aforementioned “experience” of shopping on Amazon with a traditional bookstore. Even if the selection is limited, the idea of having traditional print and eBooks presented in the same shop sounds fascinating. Barnes & Noble technically does this already, but they really discourage the purchase of eBooks, while ironically trying to push Nook devices on their customers.

I believe these stores may be a short-lived experiment since Amazon recently purchased Whole Foods and could easily begin selling Kindles and eBooks to captive audiences in the checkout lines. Plus, Whole Foods already has numerous locations in the “upscale” urban areas they targeted with the initial Amazon Books roll out.

Have you visited an Amazon Bookstore? I’d be interested to know what your experience was like. Did you actually buy anything, or just window shop to investigate what it was all about?

Print Books versus eBooks in 2017

image of book and ereader

via Buzzfeed.com

I like to check up on the whole “print versus eBooks” debate periodically, and the status of the industry is pretty interesting halfway through 2017.

This subject tends to get a bit heated in some circles, so I want to preface by saying I see the merits of both formats. I love print books and their tactile experience; dog-earring pages and scribbling notes in the margins. I also love how easy my Kindle Paperwhite is to travel with, and read in the dark. Both are great, and as long as you’re reading quality fiction, we can be friends no matter which format you prefer.

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Writing Tip: Avoid Perfectionism

perfectstatue

Perfect is the enemy of Good.

Do you struggle with perfectionism?

Figuring out when a story is ready to submit or publish can be the most challenging part of the writing process. Through all the edits, re-writes, and proofreading you need to find that “good enough” place. Good enough to submit. Good enough to push to Amazon. Even just good enough to show other people.

Perfectionism is one of the single biggest hurdles in getting to “good enough”.

My first brush with the perils of creative perfectionism involved being in a band. We would practice the same four songs, and re-write or tweak them on a weekly basis. We never made any true progress and declared them “done”. We rarely worked on any new material, and ultimately, couldn’t play any gigs because we didn’t have enough songs for a full playlist.

I only realized the real problem after I had joined a new band. There were no perfectionists, and we played plenty of shows.

If you’re a perfectionist, it can be extremely difficult to say “I’m done. Time to move on.” However, this needs to happen in the name of progress. If you’re forever working on the same project or piece of writing, you’ll never truly grow. The challenge is finding that balance.

Studying writing during college definitely helped me lose some of my preconceptions about writing. These are a few things I learned that helped me avoid becoming mired in the perfection trap.

  • First, understand that NOTHING is perfect. NOTHING. EVER. You’ll never create a piece of art that is truly perfect, because they don’t exist.

That said, each work you complete provides experience and the opportunity to reflect and grow as a writer. One of my favorite quotes on this subject is from Vince Lombardi, who said,

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

  • Second,you need to be open to criticism.

Perfectionism is a great shield against criticism. No one can criticize your work if it’s never complete, right? You can just keep “improving it” forever.

Unfortunately, you’ll never grow as a writer unless you open yourself up to critique. I’m talking about meaningful, constructive criticism that helps you recognize issues and fix them. Not the scathing comments of jerks and trolls, which the internet is full of.

Find a person, or group of people who you trust to provide honest and helpful feedback about your writing so you can make it better.

Perfectionism can be difficult to deal with, but it’s essential you conquer it if you expect to get your writing out into the world and appreciated by an audience.