Journal Writing For Kids

Journal Writing For Kids: A Parent's Guide by Roger AsburyJust a quick note to plug my new Kindle book Journal Writing For Kids: A Parent’s Guide. This is a short book (23 pages) to help parents get their children into the habit of keeping a journal.

There are a ton of reasons to get a child into the habit of writing. It can help them deal with complex issues, it’s a great stress reliever, and it provides a perfect outlet for the creativity every child possesses.

I provide several different ideas for what a journal can be, from your standard daily diary to art journals and dream journals. By getting our children into the habit of writing, they develop skills that will help them all of their lives.

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Filed under General Ideas, Journaling

Lamy Joy

As its name implies, the Lamy Joy is a fun pen. The Joy’s unique design brings to my mind a modern take on old quill pens. And while it is an all plastic pen, the body is very resistant to scratches. The black body of the pen is offset by red accents in the clip and tail end of the pen.

Lamy Joy

This is a very comfortable pen, having the same ergonomic grip as the Lamy Al-star. It sits well in the hand and is quite light. Like many Lamy fountain pens, a small view-port gives you a visual indicator of ink levels remaining in the pen.

You can get the Joy in three different tip widths. I have it in both the 1.1mm and 1.9mm, but there is a middle size at 1.5mm. The fine tip produces a nice, flowing script that I find perfect for letter writing. The broader tips, as one would expect, are excellent for calligraphy, a skill, I’m sad to say, I do not excel at to put it mildly. I will keep trying, though. No fault of the pen, this is one you can chalk up to user error.

The Lamy Joy uses the same T10 refills as the Lamy Al-star. Lamy also sells a piston refill converter, allowing you to use other brand inks. A nice feature if you enjoy colors beyond the standard colors offered by Lamy.

This is definitely a pen I would put on any Top 10 list for pens. The Lamy Joy is an affordable, stylish fountain pen designed to bring out your best writing.

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Handwritten Letters are Better Letters

[Note: This is an article I wrote eight years ago that I felt fit this site well. I have updated it to bring it current.]

In this age of instant messaging, email, and cell phones, we often think of communication as an immediate priority. We lose some of the finesse of the writers of years gone by. Messages tend to be choppy, full of acronyms and misspellings. There is no grace to our correspondence anymore.

After my wife and I separated, my children wound up two-thousand miles away. At that time, too young for email and cell phones, I began learning the art of letter writing. In my town, and I would hope most others, there is a shop specializing in all things writing related. There I found the book Writing Letters with Pen & Ink (which, unfortunately, now appears to be out of print).

The book is filled with wonderful tips and history. It is not a long book, by any stretch of the imagination, at only 29 pages. The pages are packed with artwork, memorable quotes from famous writers, but most important of all, inspiration to put away that keyboard and let the words flow from your hand to ink.

A typed letter can never provide the entire picture. Each letter, a laser copy of each other letter, so perfect in form, can not convey the emotional warmth that comes from imperfect handwriting, where a difference in style could signal uplifting feeling, or deepest despair.

This book inspired me to write, but there was another problem. I have never had the best of handwriting, and I was diagnosed with the neurological disorder essential tremor. This causes a person’s extremities to shake, in my case making my handwriting all that much worse.

Another book, Write Now came to my aid.

This book is filled with everything you need to learn to write in italic, a simple, yet elegant and legible writing style. There are exercises that run you through each letter, both capital and lowercase, organized in such a way that you are learning similar shapes and motions.

Italic puts an emphasis on least number of strokes per letter. The result is a system that lets you write neat, clean letters quickly. While I can not claim that italic cursive is the easiest thing to learn, it does look very nice.

Within a few days, I noticed that my writing was much more legible. The book is not a miracle worker, you do need to practice to get better. Writing letters, or keeping a journal are both excellent ways of practicing.

So get out there and write someone. Everyone loves finding a letter from a friend or loved one amidst the stack of bills.

Update: I first wrote this article eight years ago. Since then, both of the books mentioned appear to have become hard to find. I’ve provided a link for Write Now to the author’s web site. In theory, you can order from there, but when I tried the link was broken. A new edition has come out since I wrote this.

I’ve found no source for Writing Letters with Pen & Ink. I suggest trying a local library, or searching online for a used copy.

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Filed under General Ideas, Handwriting, Letter Writing

Cross Classic Century

Much like the Parker Jotter, the Cross Classic Century is a timeless design. First released in the 1940s, the pen has retained a solid feel. Coming in several design patterns, choices are quite varied, including a model that comes in at over $2,500. My budget will keep me to the lower end! The model you see in the pictures is the Cross Classic Century Satin Chrome, which does not appear on the Cross website. My assumption is that this version of the pen is no longer in production, which would be a shame, as I really like its styling.

Cross Classic Century

This pen can definitely be a workhorse. The metal body gives it a nice weight. This is a very thin pen with a width of less than 8mm. That may prove to be uncomfortable for those who prefer a thicker pen. Overall, though, despite its size, the Cross Classic Century is a very durable pen.

Cross Century Classic writing endThis is a swivel action pen, so there is no button mechanism to worry about breaking. Turning the top of the pen is smooth and the tip comes out cleanly. I have read a number of reviews of this model that suggest that the pens of Chinese manufacture have issues here. Checking the original packaging, I see that I, too, have a Chinese pen. Perhaps I got lucky, but it does not exhibit the problems these reviews suggest. You can read those reviews by clicking the affiliate link at the bottom of this review.

Cross Classic Century - The Gap

The dreaded (though easily fixed) gap!

One of the issues pointed out was that after placing an ink refill, the two halves of the pen did not come completely together, and thus exhibited a gap. I can reproduce that, but it’s also easily corrected by twisting the top half as you press it back on. Some may find that annoying, but it’s so easy to do, that I have a hard time seeing it as a problem. I have to admit, though, that I have not owned an older, American made Cross, so I have no real basis to compare the two. They do come with a lifetime guarantee, so if you do have issues with one, it should be relatively painless to get fixed.

Overall, I like this pen. While a little narrow in diameter, the weight is excellent and ink flow seems perfect. I get no smudged lines from still wet ink as I move down lines. Nor do I see gaps in writing. Just nice, smooth writing – well, as smooth as my handwriting can be!

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uni-ball Gel RT

I am not a fan of giving bad reviews. However, anyone who collects and uses a lot of pens knows that from time to time, you come across one that just does not work for you. Could be that it has an unusual weight, or it is fragile, or the ink does not dry. Any number of things could be wrong with a pen.

Unfortunately, the uni-ball Gel RT falls in this category for me. But before I totally rag on the pen, let me get some of its strong points out.

Like the Bic Cristal I reviewed yesterday, the uni-ball Gel RT certainly does “write the first time, every time”. In that sense, it is a reliable pen. Just remember to take the small rubber nib off of the pen tip before the first use.

uni-ball Gel RT

The feel of the pen is good and easily held thanks to a rubber grip. The uni-ball Gel RT is a very light pen, so depending upon your writing style that could either be a pro or a con. I find it a bit lighter than the pens I usually use, yet still find it comfortable.

My first real con is not really a comment on the pen itself, but the ink. You will find, as I review more pens, that I am not a fan of gel inks in general. While I find they do produce nice, vivid colors, the slow drying times prove easy to smear. This pen has done nothing to assuage my dislike of these inks. My primary use of the Gel RT is note taking at work. Since I am often writing fast, as my fingers brush over previous lines tell-tale streaks often follow.

uni-ball Gel RT broken

One of my uni-ball Gel RT pens with typical breakage.

The plastic clip on the pen is another source of concern. I have used many of these pens at work and every single one of them has a broken clip. They always break at the curve, and it does not seem to take a lot of pressure to do it. I do not tend to clip my pens to things, so it really is not a bother, but it does make the pen look bad.

The Gel RT is also one of the few pens I have owned where the click mechanism has broken. The push button is made up of two layers of plastic. If the clear outer plastic breaks, getting the pen to click in place becomes quite difficult.

Would I recommend this pen? If you are a fan of gel pens and can keep it from breaking, it is a fine pen. Ink flows smoothly and it feels good in the hand. My experience, though, suggests that the plastic is simply too fragile. I may use them at work, as that is what is available, but I do not use them at home.

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Filed under Gel RT, Pens, uni-ball