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It’s National Pencil Day today!

This fun holiday is brought to you courtesy of Hymen Lipman, who received a patent for a pencil with an attached eraser on March 30, 1858. While pencils were once only yellow, today we can get them in a wide assortment of colors and designs.

As I writer, I collect pencils when I travel, pens too. You can see some of my pens in the front of the  pencil collection below. The soldier at the forefront is a standing pen from Colonial Williamsburg. I think he’s absolutely adorable!

Pencils are usually relatively inexpensive as mementoes, and one day I plan to have my hubby build me a display case for my slender treasures.

For now, though, I thought I’d extol the joys, and uses, of pens from a writer’s perspective. After all, we started this writing journey with a yellow number 2 pencil and that funny dotted-line-in-the-middle school paper.

Ten reasons writers need pencils

  1. You don’t need electricity to use a pencil. So you can write in a storm, at the park, if you unexpectedly find yourself in a dystopian society, or any other place you might choose.
  2. When you’re ready to write a word down, there’s no pesky computer delay because your CPU is too full.
  3. When the lead runs out, you can throw the stub away without any hesitation. The wood deteriorates, unlike pens which need refilling and last in a landfill forever, or computers that also don’t deteriorate and require special care to wipe your personal data and stories from them.
  4. When you make a mistake it’s easy to erase. Not so with a pen.
  5. You also don’t need electricity to sharpen your pencil. A handy-dandy, tiny, portable sharpener is all you need. Or a knife. Don’t opt for the latter if you’re the clumsy sort though.
  6. They come in an assortment of colors and designs, so when you’re experiencing writer’s block you can stimulate your muse by studying the pencil’s ornamentation.
  7. When your plot or characters aren’t cooperating you can take out your frustration by breaking your pencil in half. Just be sure you have a replacement on hand for when those pesky characters finally start behaving.
  8. Pencils make great stabbing utensils for use on rejection letters, that horrid first draft, and other bothersome papers related to your writing. There’s a sense of satisfaction in killing a page that has brought you grief.
  9. Pencils can write upside down, in zero gravity, and in water. That means you can lay on your back, in bed, outside, or any other place you choose, and still write your book. Or if you’re planning a trip into space, your trusty pencil will work while you’re enroute and when you reach wherever you’re going, provided you’re still alive when you get there. I can’t think of a reason you’d want to write underwater though. On the water, maybe. A pencil would work well there, too.
  10. A typical pencil can write about 45,000 words. That’s a novella length book. Now that’s a fact I never knew before today!

Happy Pencil Day! Take a moment today and celebrate the humble pencil. Hunt up a fresh, or a used pencil, sharpen it to a stabbing point, and write something new.