I’ve been thinking lately about all this “stuff” that we collect, the pens, art tools, drawing tools, notebooks, sketchbooks — all the mark-making, list-making and note-taking tools and I had to ask myself, what purpose do they serve?

I believe that these tools inspire us and ignite our individual urges to create. They free our creativity and sometimes even fuel them. Each pen, ink, notebook, pencil or scrap of paper gives us an excuse to tuck ourselves into our little paper world and spend some time with our thoughts and ideas. Sometimes, they make the icky tasks more palatable — why not turn your grocery list into a place to practice your calligraphy or drawing skills?


I believe that all these tools should bring you joy (Don’t write with a crappy pen! Don’t draw on crappy paper!). I believe that these tools and toys should inspire each of us to take out of the busy, hectic or mundane moments of our lives to make something — whether its as simple as a note or letter to someone, or as epic as writing on opera.

If buying a new pen, a new bottle of ink or some other doodad will compel you to sit down for 15 minutes and coax out an idea, a doodle, a story or a memory, then do it. Buy that pen. You DO need that notebook. Just don’t let shopping for that “perfect” whatever get in the way of actually doing/making/writing/composing/planning something.

Carve out time to paint, doodle, color, stitch, sketch, write, make lists, whatever. Because, in the end, we all meet our end. Let’s take this precious time we have to leave our mark. That why this matters.

(Shout out to all those folks who write about being passionate, inspired and creative above all else. Big thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert and her new book Big Magic. Love and hugs to everyone else. You know who you are.)


15 Comments on Why Does All This Matter: A manifesto of sorts.

  1. Your post caught me as I was painting with my new Isabey brush. Good tools almost disappear, merging into our being. Love your words on this.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing, illustrating, and sharing this. I thank I shall print it and hang it above my “little paper world.”

  3. “You DO need that notebook. Just donโ€™t let shopping for that ‘perfect’ whatever get in the way of actually doing/making/writing/composing/planning something.”

    This. So very much this. Unsurprisingly, this is where I find myself a lot of time. Oh, I spent 2 hours browsing websites for new inks despite the fact I have 140 bottles, but I haven’t written in my journal in two and a half weeks. The whole reason I bought my first pen was so I could have a good writing instrument to journal with!

    Acquisition is fine as a means, but for me, not as the end itself.

    • This is the part of your post that spoke to me too. Don’t let the shopping get in the way of the using and enjoying. I’m working really hard to enjoy the really beautiful tools I already have.

  4. Great post. I think the key is that it bring you joy. Take any other hobby – gardening, for example. Most people don’t need to garden, but it brings people happiness. Same thing.

    As long as we’re having fun (and not going into debt or becoming a hoarder), I say we should keep collecting and discussing stationery.

  5. Is that a missing person on the side of that almond milk carton?

    Seriously, though, I’ve been trying to figure this out lately, too. I agree that a lot of it has to do with the joy of creativity, like you say, and with a slow kind of mindfulness/savoring of the everyday (which includes the tools of that mindfulness). What looks like a weird, inexplicable fetish for office supplies to outsiders *can* get a little counterproductive at times…but at heart, it’s just our love of our tools for engagement, appreciation & growth.

    Thanks for your awesome work, comrade!

  6. Workers in the trades teach their apprentices “always buy the best tools you can afford”. Quality justifies itself, regardless of the forum in which those tools are used. The best tools not only perform well, but they allow the user to work longer, more comfortably, more efficiently, and safer from fatigue-related injury. Same for materials.

    Good to see someone with your level of experience and following bringing this up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I’m going to read this post next time I need someone to enable me to make a purchase on Goulet. ๐Ÿ˜› Thanks!!!

    I do feel more compelled to write when I have so many pretty pens to use.

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