In what feels like another life, I hated writing in pencil. I hated how the tip felt, whether sharp or dull, as it glid across the page. I’m unsure what my issue was, or exactly when it changed. One day I was a devoted pen user, cringing with the equivalence of nails on a chalkboard at the very thought of using a pencil, and then one day it seemed I could only write in pencil. To say writing anything in pen spurred a sense of anxiety wouldn’t be a stretch.

Maybe you’re reading these words and thinking this all sounds pretty unimportant, but I can tell you that isn’t how it felt.

I belong to a doodling community and our beautiful leader is always encouraging us to doodle in pen, focussing on fun over perfection. Listen, I get it. I take every single one of these workshops with my pencil in hand and I guarantee perfection is still the farthest thing from my outcome. Is it fun? Cathartic? YES! This is why I stay in the community… Even so, every time we gather together, I’m the one lone creator not using ink. To be honest, I don’t see that changing… Sometimes I have tremors, sometimes my vision is so wonky, and sometimes there seems to be a foggy disconnect and everything I draw out is so grotesquely unsteady. In this setting, I don’t mind being the mechanical pencil-carrying odd man out. This is where I’m comfortable…


There is an odd sense of comfort in the ability to erase. Back, those years ago I perhaps lived within a confidence that disregarded room for error. Looking back through old notebooks and journals I see so many black ink (always black) scratch-outs. I didn’t care. Sometimes still, even with a pencil, I will scratch through an error, out of habit, rather than erasing it.

What brought the change?

This morning, as I sipped my cup of tea and engaged in my morning quiet time, I chose to boldly journal in pen. (If you’re wondering where the deep, thoughtful pondering of this very boring personal preference came from–now you know.) Ultimately my question became one of searching for when this changed and why. Maybe you’re one who just jots things down with whatever instrument is near, so the very idea of talking this out seems asinine. I get it. As a writer, I remember feeling far more intentional purpose with my pen in hand than I’ve ever felt with lead. Something shifted in me, years ago, and I want that girl back…

Or at least the inky version of her.

Sometimes habits shift so subtly that we aren’t even aware of the depth of the shift until much later. For me, it feels important to understand it, to understand what moves these shifts in me… On the surface, a change in us can feel trivial, but sometimes when we dig deeper we may learn something that ties to a much larger issue, aching, or need. One way to practice self-love is to spend intentional time connecting with ourselves, giving the type of attention to detail we often hope others will have.