The perfect pencil

I was talking with my sister yesterday. She picked up a pencil. She asked if it was mine. I said yes. She said she was surprised that I used pens and pencils, computer guy that I am. I took her down to my desk and showed her the three dozen PaperMate (formerly Berol)  Mirado pencils I have in their packages. And the handful in the pencil holder. And told her about the dozen or two I have at work.

I didn’t tell her that there are more in my briefcase. And another dozen in the desk drawer here where I am writing.

Why do I have so many? Why do I like them so much?

Because they live up to their word.

The package says “The world’s smoothest writing pencil. Guaranteed!” I’ve tried lots of pencils. These are the smoothest writing pencils.

Why does it matter? Because I actually write on paper sometimes. I outline posts. I brainstorm projects. I write to find out what I’m thinking. When I do that, I want as little physical interruption in the process. And these pencils move smoothly.

Why even mention this?

Because little pieces matter to the creative process. And the more you know know about what you like, about what works, about what you prefer, the easier it is to have moments of delight as you work.


As I was writing, I realized that another writing instrument I like are old-fashioned PaperMate Flair pens.

Apparently PaperMate knows something about how I like to write.

They have never given me any samples, however.


Here’s how to get your own, in a convenient 120-dozen package: PaperMate Mirado Woodcase Pencil, HB #2, Yellow Barrel, 120 – 12ct boxes


What’s your favorite writing instrument?


27 responses to “The perfect pencil

  1. northpointcc

    I actually liked the old fashioned fountain pen or the cartridge pen that followed. They made me want to improve my penmanship.

  2. Matt Hayward

    Oooh, a nice little anecdote, and one I can relate to.

    For me, it will always be the Parker ‘Jotter’ fountain/cartridge pen that is my favourite writing instrument. Loved it since I was a young lad in Primary School.

    Thank you for so pleasant an insight.

  3. matt – my good pen is a jotter ballpoint. I never learned with a fountain,
    but my grandmother bought my dad a parker like this years ago. I have had
    one for several years myself. Thanks!

  4. Without doubt the Jetstream Premier by Uni-ball.

    These bad boys are the pen that get the business done!

    Get them at Amazon here – Jetstream Goodness

  5. Pilot G-2 07

    Funny, I met a writer a couple of months ago and we were pen twins over this very pen.


  6. I am also most indebted to the pencil for how it shaped my very life in ways which most of you cannot begin to imagine. Whenever the teacher prattles on with some droll explanation of how George Washington has thrown a dollar somewhere, or how Abe Lincoln walked some endless distance to return a penny, the long yellow piece of wood lying on my desk quite naturally becomes a school bus in my imagination and I can quietly drive it all over my desk in between my school books (which have magically transformed into buildings). Occasionally they learn to take off and become rocket ships – and I go to far off planets, especially during science class. And every once in a while they have proven most useful for doodling on the edges of my papers – tanks, dinosaurs, evil and vicious looking guns, and the occasional super-hero or guy with a head made out of a balloon magically flying off into the sky. Yep. The Olde Number 2 pencil has saved me from going insane on many an occasion.

  7. I’m a Sharpie girl myself, which is probably the opposite of a pencil in some ways (permanent, fat) but not in others (smooth). At least to me.

  8. used to be a G-2 07 fanatic.
    now I can’t live without Extra Fine Point Sharpies in black or blue.

  9. found this from a @chrisbrogan tweet on twitter. Can’t go by wihtout plugging the pencil and it’s role in my life.

    My entire career started wit a no. 2 in the fourth grade of Holy rosary school in Republic, PA trying to copy (legal then) Paul Garbutt and his amazing peanuts, character drawings.

    Today it’s nothing but the NO. 2 “DIXON TICONDEROGA” ! I have no less than two hundred or so, at all times and in two different offices I use.

    I am however faced with a dreadful crisis in that I am down to my very last pencil “Clip” that I use to secure one onto my shirt regardless of where I go…anybody know where I can get more of those?


  10. not spooky. I understand completely. Although I haven’t found a mirado twin
    yet. Maybe then….

  11. Suthnautr –
    I love the non-writing use of the pencil to fuel imagination. Thank you!

  12. ann – I use sharpies when deadlines loom to draw my todo list. Something
    about making it huge that makes crossing things off seem bigger.

  13. ali e – i love that you use the word fanatic. That captures the feeling

  14. Bernard – and you have done an amazing job with pencils since then!

  15. I concede, it was a nice smooth write. Thanks for a good weekend.

  16. I’ve become a fan of mechanical pencils. I do a lot of my jotting on public transit where there are no pencil sharpeners, and love that they are never too sharp or too dull.

    When ink is called for, I love a fine point gel, uni-ball being my current favorite. They are smooth and crisp to write with, and never leave those unsightly blobs that are typical of traditional ball points. They are reminiscent of a nice fountain pen, without the mess and with just a bit more viscosity.

  17. Jill – and thanks for inspiring the post! (okay, and coming for the weekend)

  18. Sarah – I would love to use mechanicals. The precision is compelling.
    However, they break. Or, more accurately, I break them. So I carry several
    of my pencils. (and that’s what happens with gel pens as well. They get
    stuck. I am way too heavy-handed. (That’s why crayons work well for me,

  19. I love the Pilot Easy Touch ball-point. It is nice and juicy… free-flowing. Normally with free-flowing comes ink blobs. That is true for this pen, unfortunately.

    Blue? So that when I write notes to someone, they know it was a human writing and not automation via a computer.

    My computer? A Mac. Once you get used to it, the free-flowingness is excellent. No blobs either.

  20. Joseph Crockett

    I am fond of a number 2 pencil with a well behaved pencil sharpener in close proximity. But a good writing implement is only as usable as a the surface you write upon. I find the paper a bigger distraction than the writing implement.

  21. Jon, Post made me smile. I like to use a Pentel 0.5mm mechanical. Started in college in Engineering school. Not other pencil does it. As far as pens go…I like a gel pen, but I can’t get a favorite because I leave them around too much!!

  22. You stopped me in my tracks. It’s a joke around my office that I’m addicted to the PaperMate sharpwriter #2. Still looks like the old fashioned #2 but won’t leave you out in the cold should it break in the middle of an SAT exam or during a moment of brilliance while mid-air over who knows where. Now…if somebody can psychoanalyze why I am also addicted to the multi-colored clear vue pocket folders that I can’t do without…thoughts?

  23. I never found a wooden pencil that I *loved* and hated how often I broke mechanicals. Until I found the Mars Technico 2 mm Lead Holder by Staedtler. All the advantages of a mechanical with the weight and smoothness of a wooden pencil. And a built in “lead pointer” (aka sharpener).

    I rarely erase, preferring simply to cross out, but since there is no eraser, I found myself using the Staedtler Mars Plastic erasers. So much better than pencil erasers.

  24. I’m a papermate fan – and I really like the larger mm mechanical pencils, but I didn’t even know that they made 2.0mm!! Oh joy!

  25. Great post, and grateful to hear that others have pen and pencil preferences. My favorites today are the PaperMate WriteBros. pens in blue. Sometimes I prefer black – depending on my mood. My favorite pencil for jotting and doodling is the Mirado Black Warrier. It writes smoothly, smears when I need it to smear/smudge, erases cleanly and the round wood casing is easier on my hands.

  26. that mirado is great, too. Thanks Kay!

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