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Darlene Marshall, author

I write award-winning historical romance about pirates, privateers, smugglers and the occasional possum.

The Slow Writing Movement

We've all heard of the "slow food movement", which advocates leisurely meals prepared from scratch. I'm a fan.


I'm also a fan of the "slow writing movement". Not writing out my manuscripts with a quill pen, but taking notes by hand. I've found over the years that I retain information better if I write it out in longhand. Because I want to maximize my enjoyment of that notetaking, I use the finest "ingredients". Today I was researching 19th C. Key West, Florida. I set up my latest Circa notebook from Levenger's, filling it with Rhodia paper, organizing new tabbed dividers. Then I got out my fountain pens--two Cross models, a Lamy Safari, a Sensa, all with different inks. Finally, I picked it all up and moved it to my back porch because it's a lovely day in North Florida.


The research is going well (though I need to further research a question about sovereign territory), and I enjoyed the notetaking. The flow of ink, the smoothness of the paper, it all contributed to my retention of the knowledge.


It reminds me of something from my past. Some of my older friends remember when I was a news reporter, then a news director, and I smoked a pipe. I had quite a collection of lovely, smaller bowl pipes for women, including some with rhinestones and a meerschaum carved like a full blown rose. I gave up smoking when I got pregnant the first time, but I still miss the pipe smoking ritual, and the fountain pens remind me of that. Pipe smoking is a leisurely process. You're constantly tamping, and relighting, and cleaning, and mixing oxygen in with a pipe tool. But this leisurely process helps you slow down, focus, re-think a little bit. My note-taking is like that. It's leisurely, but I retain far more information this way.


So, as much as I'm dismayed at schools no longer teaching penmanship, I'll enjoy my pens and paper and hope that like the slow food movement, we'll see a return to the slow writing movement.