Pen or Pencil?

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We all have our preference when it comes to writing with pens or pencils. But is our preference justified? Let’s look at all the selling features of pens and pencils for a writer and see which one is really superior.


Pens can’t be erased. You can scribble over your writing, but the reminder of your mistakes on the page glares back at you. And if what you scribbled out earlier turns out to be better than what you wrote later, then your lost genius is under that ink blob (lesson: cross out your errors so your words can be retrieved from the dead). Some pens erase, but not very well.

Pencils can be erased. If you have limited paper for writing, you’ll be able to gain white space with that eraser for a creative redo. But not that what-did-I-erase-that-was-better phrase.


Pens come in many colors. You can write in the color that inspires your creativity without having to squint to read it.

Pencils usually come in one color: grey. How inspiring is grey? Unless you’re writing a Poe-esque tale, not very much. There are colored pencils, but they were designed for coloring, not writing pages and pages of your story. These pencils are more prone to breaking, and who has time to keep sharpening a pink colored pencil when you’re about to forget what you want to write next?

Stress Weapon

Pens can be thrown at horrible drafts, drawings of characters not cooperating with your plot, and people trying to stop you from writing.

Pencils can be broken in half in a moment of weakness and no one gets hurt. Except maybe your writing ego.

Poke Factor

Pens don’t poke. They have caps or clickers to keep that ballpoint end tucked away. That means no leakage in your favorite bag or stabbing that hurts your fingers (but most pens don’t really hurt, even when you press hard on your skin).

Pencils poke. And they hurt, especially if sharpened to a ridiculous point. Sometimes it even draws blood or, worse, leads to lead poisoning. Mechanical pencils don’t poke as much, but they chip and leave annoying bits in your bag that end up rubbing up on the fabric and your skin when you try to fish them out.

Artistic Break

Pens are great for doodling. What’s even better is that doodling is another way of freewriting when you are having major writer’s block.

Pencils are great for sketching. That’s great if you can, you know, draw. But even for those with not-so-great drawing skills, you can sketch out how a character looks or a layout of a setting so that you can visualize how and where to take your story.

What do you think? Do you prefer to write with pen or pencil? Vote here:

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