Writing in Style

Writing in Style

Ok, I promise this is my last post on writing (at least for a while). Between writing three papers (still out for review) and two proposals over the last few months, I was looking forward to setting up my lab and working on lecture prep for my fall Lab/Project course. Now, granted, most of the writing I’m doing right now involves me and my arch-rival (Word). And when I’m blinded by white-hot rage with the stupid quirks of Word, I need to switch to a different topic. Lately, that involves brainstorming for new topics to research or flushing out ideas that started on the back of a napkin.

While I’d love to share some ideas with the masses, that’s probably not the most prudent choice. Rather, I thought I would talk about penning my ideas in my lab note book (see what I did there?). I’m pretty much a scribble on any scrap of paper kind of person and I don’t keep notebooks per say, rather jumbled pieces of paper. But I do love writing with my Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen (mine is the all stainless style, thx DrWife). It took a little while to get used to writing with a fountain pen because I normally spin the pen or pencil on its axis continuously while writing. However, once I “worn in” the pen, I found it very smooth and enjoyable to write with.

The other thing I find fun about it is the inks I’ve used. It came standard with black ink which was boring and plain. However, I tried the blue-black ink and that was a really sweet slate looking color and made everything look very distinct when I wrote with it. I’ve since ran out of that blue-black (note to self: buy more blue-black) and I’ve switched to this brown-red style ink which is also pretty cool.

I get some quirky looks from the other profs when I use it to write notes in meetings and my grad student definitely thinks I’m an ultra nerd for using it. But hey, it doesn’t bother me because I’m writing in style.

What about you? What are some oddball stylistic things you adhere to which are coming from way out in left field? Do you co-workers rib you about it or do they just shrug and move on?


I’ve been using a Waterman pen for the last 20 years or so. I really enjoy having it and even though I’m not employed anymore, I still write in my journal.

I like the coloured inks you can get. I like the fact that it’s so expensive that it makes sense to spend $100 to replace the nib (someone dropped my pen on the floor…note to self: don’t lend pen to anyone). I like the fact that it can be fixed. I enjoy the thought that it’s been broken in to my particular hand.

Sure, it’s an affectation, but there’s nothing wrong with being a little out of step with your fellows.

I used to love writing with a fountain pen, but it got to be too difficult to find refills…and occasionally, I would end up with a mess.

Now I go to the bookstore at the beginning of every semester and buy a boatload of Zebra Sarasas in different colors. They’re awesome pens, and they work great for my lab notebook, among other things.

And yes, I do feel guilty about buying disposable pens. 🙁

Points noted. With many pen models, you can buy (or they include it) a reservoir with a screw-driven plunger instead of plastic cartridges. Then you can buy ink in bottles, stick the pen nib into the bottle and suck up some ink.

But you’re right, fountain pens can act like, um, fountains. The resulting mess can be inconvenient. Still, style doesn’t come cheap.

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