Step one is admitting you have a problem. Now what do you do about it? After killing a Blackwing 602 yesterday, I went looking for another one, and it took me a full five minutes to find one in the giant bin where I store most of my “loose” stationery supplies. It’s actually one of several giant bins. For reasons I don’t yet understand, I woke up early and inventoried all this stuff and realized that I have 383 wood case pencils (2.7 gross, to be exact). I also have 50 bottles of ink. 60 unused Field Notes. And 41 fountain pens. At least 15 full-size notebooks waiting to be used. I didn’t even count all the gel pens, ink samples, ballpoints, and felt-tip pens, but it’s probably at least 100.
This isn’t a lifetime’s worth of supplies, but it’s getting close. The fountain pens don’t bother me so much. I fall into the category of a modest vintage pen collector: of those 41 pens, 15 of them are vintage pens that I consider to have historical significance. The remaining 26 I rotate through fairly regularly, and I operate on a “one-in, one-out” basis when acquiring new pens. I try to keep my “user pens” at around two dozen, but eventually I would like to winnow that down even more.
The pencils/ink/paper/gel pens DO bother me, though. Since I’ve gotten into this hobby, I’ve become an ink junkie. The endless range of colors and the ability to customize your writing is seductive. Before you know it, you end up with 15 bottles of red ink, in varying shades, and you still have not found that “perfect burgundy”. Oh wait, those 15 bottles are only the "true red" inks, the burgundies are over there, in that drawer. There are 5 of them.
If you’re in the Pen Addict Slack channel, you’ll notice that I’ve been unloading some excess bottles of ink lately. I sold my bottle of Akkerman Voorhout Violet (a perfectly nice ink) after realizing that I had two other bottles of “dusty purple” that look reasonably identical. I’ll probably sell some more. But I really want to focus on using this stuff. I’m not a hoarder (or at least I don’t think I am). I don’t have much sentimental attachment to these things, with the exception of a few pens people have given me as gifts, have no problem selling stuff when I get a decent price, and I do use pen/paper/ink/pencils on a daily basis. If I get busy at work I’ll burn through five piston-filled fountain pens and two legal pads in a week, and probably a pencil, too. Oh wait—I forgot to count the legal pads . . . never mind.
Having this much stuff lying around has become distracting. My desk drawers are a mess. I’m running out of places to keep more ink. And I constantly find myself interrupting my workflow to think, “Shouldn’t I be using this, instead?” “That pen's been inked up for too long,” or “I’ve got so many of these, or so much of this ink, why not burn through the backlog?” So what do I do?
Step one: Stop the influx of new “stuff,” specifically with regard to ink, paper, and pencils. I have more than enough blog fodder to keep going for a year or more. I’m not going to be super hard on myself and say that I can’t pick up the new Field Notes Colors edition when it comes out, or a box of Blackwing Volumes, but both of those are issued quarterly, and I’ve had a hard time stamping down the “oooh, shiny” impulse purchases at pen shows and stationery stores on a monthly basis.
Step two: Use what I have. And use more of it. Be more conscious about taking time to write, journal, etc. Pick one pen or pencil to use and don’t switch mid task, unless the pen is empty or the pencil’s been ground to a nub. I'm actually curious to know what I use in typical week/month/year, and want to start tracking this. (I'm a bit of a productivity nerd.)
Step three: More giveaways on the stuff that’s not worth selling. You readers will benefit. I have a lot of pencils, gel pens, hybrid ink ballpoints, etc. that people have sent me over the past couple years, or that I wanted to try out but was only able to buy in bulk. You may see more non-fountain pen reviews here in the coming months, as I try to get these things out of my workflow, off my desk, and hopefully into your hands.
Thanks for the therapy, and have a great weekend!