Should You Use a Pen or Pencil for Journaling?

Should You Use a Pen or Pencil for Journaling?


Pen or pencil, which one is better?


I have a stance.

I believe the pen is better for journaling.

It makes each word feel more meaningful.

Plus, you can keep your journals longer without the text fading.


It’s fun to read back on old journals and think:

‘Did I really write that?’


The pencil isn’t bad either.

I see why people use pencils.

Let me talk about the pros and cons of each.


My Thoughts on Using a Pencil


The pro of using a pencil is that you can always erase.


I sometimes read back my old journal entries and wince at all the words I crossed out with a pen.

If I wrote with a pencil, then I could’ve erased the errors at will.


The con with writing with a pencil is that the text fades.

Especially if you have notebooks where the papers are rubbing up against each other.


If you had loose-leaf papers in a binder, then you may not have to worry about the text fading too much.

But who does that?

Most people write in journals.

And for journals, the pages don’t allow pencil writing to last for long.


My Thoughts on Using a Pen


The main con with writing with a pen is that you can’t clean up mistakes.

Once you make a mistake, you must accept it.


There are erasable pens nowadays, but I’m not a fan.

The ink doesn’t seem dark enough in my opinion.


Erasable pens have an identity issue.

They are stuck in between wanting to be a pen one second and a pencil the next.

Choose a side!


With that being said, I like it when I can’t erase something.

Mainly because it forces me to be more mindful when I am writing.


Understanding that I don’t have a do-over forcefully brings me back to the present moment.


I hate it when I have to cross something off with a pen.

Since I hate it, my nervous system is hypersensitive in avoiding it.


Plus, when I do make a mistake, I have no other choice but to accept it and move on.

I build a thicker skin when I don’t let the mistakes stop me.

I still finish the entry.


Most importantly, I can read back my writings in the future.

  • With the pen, the writing remains.
  • With the pencil, the writing fades.


Which Type of Pen?


The pencil is tension-free, while a lot of pens cause tension.

The graphite lead breezes through the pages.


The ballpoint pens create a lot of friction in my forearm.

I don’t like those.


If you want to use a pen, I recommend you choose a gel pen.


The gel pen comes with a pro and a con too.

The pro is that there is not much tension.

But the con is that you have less control.

There is more of a sliding motion.


It may seem like I’m overanalyzing the details, but I’m not…

The type of writing object you choose will play a big factor in your writing journey!


Does the Pencil Beat the Pen in Anything?


With journaling, I’m team pen.

But with mind maps, I’m team pencil.


When I’m mind mapping, I am all over the place.

My mind thinks of different concepts and connection points.


When I’m mind mapping, I like to have a big eraser handy in case I make any errors.

Not one of those tiny erasers that are connected to a pencil.

I mean one of those separate large pink erasers.


I have the paper in front of me, a pencil in my right hand, and an eraser in my left hand.

A combination of all 3 allows me to feel grounded.


‘Have you ever tried mind mapping with a pen, Armani?’

Yes, I have.

But I didn’t like it too much.


Since mind mapping is a highly creative task, I will make a lot more errors.

When I make an error, I want to be able to erase it for good.


With a pen, I have too many scribbles, which deducts real estate for me to draw on.

I like to use a pen when I deal with words, but not so much for images.


Which Item Is Right for You?


As adults, we stop using a pen or a pencil.

We are a typing culture nowadays.


If you are someone who stumbled onto this article, and you graduated college, then you will have to relearn how to write by hand.

I was 27 when I started to get back to journaling with my hand.


In the beginning, it was painful.

Don’t quit.

Train your body to align with this writing tool.


A lot of things are happening when you write by hand:

  • You are engaging your motor sensory system.
  • Using hand-eye coordination.
  • Accessing your memory bank.
  • Utilizing critical thinking skills.
  • Choosing the right words.
  • Learning to turn ambiguous feelings into clear sentences.


Find a place that you are going to write every day, so there is some predictability.

Allow your body to adjust.


Experiment with a pen or pencil.

Once you find your desired writing object, zone in on it.


Buy a collection of pens or pencils so you are more invested.

Buy a collection of journals too.

Then choose a set time that you will write every day.


Don’t Forget Typing…


Although this talk mainly dealt with pen or pencil, another option is to type.

Typing beats pen or pencil when I don’t want any resistance.


When I am introspecting, I love to write by hand.

When I am venting, I like to type.


There are so many options…

You may use one tool for one season to only switch it up the next season.

When you feel like things have been getting stale as of late, don’t be afraid to switch it up!


For more insights into writing skills, be sure to check out my book, Prolific Writer: The Holy Grail of Creative Writing


– ArmaniTalks 🎙️🔥


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