8 Simple way’s to Prevent your Hand Aching when Writing

21st January 2019

Often when faced with mountains of paperwork, homework or even just sketching, your hands will undoubtedly start to ache. Here are some useful everyday tips you can use to stop this from happening.

A hand

1)Take Breaks

Taking small frequent breaks in a long session of writing or sketching will most definitely help reduce the amount your hand will ache. This is due to relaxing the muscles which will help prevent a repetitive strain injury in your wrist and fingers. Taking frequent breaks will also help you focus when you return from a break due to refreshing your mind and having a clear vision of what must be done. The time you take your breaks will depend on how long you plan to work on a task. For example, if you plan on working on a task for an hour, you should take a 5 minute beak every 15 minutes.

Coffee break

2)Improving your posture

Practising good posture when holding your pen will dramatically have an impact on how long you can write for without your hand hurting. By having a comfortable grip on your pen or pencil, you find yourself gaining some rhythm and flow whilst writing. People commonly hold their pen incorrectly (find out how to hold your pen correctly), this will often strain parts of their hand and cause the individual to stop midway through a task.

Hand posture

3)Stretch your hands

Before starting a long period of writing or sketching, it is recommended that you stretch your fingers and warm your hands. This stimulates blood flow improving flexibility and reducing stiffness.

Stretching hand

With both hands, grab each finger one by one and bend upwards so the tip is facing up. Do this twice for each finger.  You then interlock each finger and push forward until you feel a slight strain.

wrist stretch

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4)Shake it out

After stretching each individual finger, it is vital to shake the tension out. This will help relieve any existing pain or irritation and help increase blood circulation, resulting in a more relaxed hand and therefore better posture.


5)What pen do you use?

If you are using a pen for a long period of time, it is vital that you have a pen with a comfy grip and a sturdy barrel. My preference is the Pilot Capless. This pen gives you an unusual yet extremely comfortable grip due to the clip being in the same place as your figures should be. The creators have cleverly designed the sophisticated pen to look the part and to also perform to its best ability. Choosing the right pen mainly depends on the individual’s hand.

Lot's of pens

6)Staying Hydrated

Dehydration is usually the common cause of musculature cramps and pain. Muscle cramps can also be caused by lack of potassium and vitamin D. Increasing the intake of these vital vitamins in your diet can have a positive impact on your hands cramping in the future. Drinking water plays a significant part in helping all aspects of your body to function properly.

Glass of water

7)Angle of the paper

Getting the correct positioning of the paper is vital for avoiding arm or hand pains and cramps. Each person is different and has different opinions of how they should position paper on the table. As I am right handed, I’d have the paper angled to the left (angled right for lefthanders).

Having another piece of paper underneath the one you are writing on, will help grip and will also heighten the overall sensation and experience. You won’t be able to feel the wood grains through the paper. When writing with a single sheet of paper, there is a chance that you can rip through and ruin any work you have already done.


8)Using the right pen for you

Everyone has a different opinion of what feels comfortable and what doesn’t. When selecting the right pen, you must keep in mind: budget, size of pen, nib size and cartridge capacity. Visit our blog on How to Hold a Pen Correctly. Using a decent pen rather than a free promotional pen really helps. Promotional pens are designed to only last a short period of time whereas pens that cost money are more than likely going to last for a long time.

Different pens


Some individuals think the best way to prevent their hands and wrists from aching is by taking long breaks, others say stretching their figures and wrist is better. I think by trying all tips provided, will give you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. When I attempted to try these tips, I found that drinking water had a significant impact on the way I was feeling when I was writing. I had more energy and better concentration. Please comment below, what worked for you?

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Conklin Pens Now In!

21st January 2019


The Conklin Pen Company

The Conklin pen originated in Ohio, 1898 by a man named Roy Conklin. Conklin pens are considered to be one of the most prestigious and significant writing instruments; a fine portrayal of American design. The unique and quirky design pattern on each pen is truly stunning. From intricate patterns to multi colours, it’s aesthetically pleasing and a treat to look at. Each Conklin pen is a great representation of hand crafted talent. At Pens Etc, we only stock pens that are designed for longevity and are comfortable for our customers to write with. This is why we supply a wide range of them.

Conklin Pens

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Paper Diaries vs Digital Planners and Online Calendars

21st January 2019

Paper Planner
For years people have had to plan their time and keep some form of a diary and now there are more “planning” tools than ever. Initially starting as a plain paper book, the diary later evolved into a chronological dated book dedicated to each year. Now, with the rise of technology, digital planners and online calendars are the latest editions to the “diary” family. Not only are there multiple electronic devices available; there are an abundance of third party apps offering a variety of features to suit individual needs. Technological and online solutions are often seen as a superior solution to predecessors however, is this the case when it comes to diaries?

Why bother with an old fashioned diary?

Some people genuinely will have no idea why anyone would waste their time using an “old school”, “prehistoric” and “dated” way to organise their time, making statements like:

“why would you write anything down, there’s an app for that!”

“well it might work for you but can your diary notify you on 5 different devices?”

“a diary won’t fit in your pocket but a phone will”.

But paper diaries have worked for people for years and based on records have been used for over a millennia. They have helped humanity evolve. The question shouldn’t be “why use a paper planner?” but should be “why would you not use a tried, tested and proven way of planning?”.

fountain pen and diary

Benefits of Using a Paper Diary

Before the 2000’s I wouldn’t have to justify the positives of a paper diary – there would be no true digital rival. It was the “go to” organisational tool for millions of people. The current era, as aforementioned, now offers a wealth of digital alternatives but that doesn’t mean that a paper planner doesn’t have it’s advantages.

To effectively use a diary, you need the diary itself, and a pen or pencil. Good diaries will include a clip or loop to store your pen within the diary. With just the diary and writing instrument, you can use your diary for months. It doesn’t need battery power, it doesn’t need charging every day and it doesn’t require a network connection. It’s simplicity and lack of technology is it’s major benefit.

No Annoying Notifications

With a diary, you can view appointments and look back at what you’ve done when it suits you. You’re diary doesn’t ping, it doesn’t light up and it doesn’t vibrate. It’s there to look at when you want to. A busy day can quickly feel more congested if you have constant pop ups and reminders informing you of what you need to do and what appointments you have.

The last benefit to mention is that everything is now technology based. The average day for a working individual may be something like:

  • alarm goes off in the morning
  • check preferred news website to keep up with current affairs
  • check emails once at work
  • use spreadsheets and word processors throughout the day
  • call significant other on the way home from work
  • turn on the TV at home whilst browsing the internet on a tablet or phone
  • look up a recipe for dinner
  • look for something to do at the weekend
  • finally, once in bed, drift off to sleep whilst reading an E-book

Constantly being “connected” via a phone, tablet or laptop is becoming a regular occurrence and can add to stress without you even realising. Taking a break from technology and bright screens to use a paper diary can do the world of good for both your mentality and your eyesight.

It’s also proven that writing things down is a more effective way of remembering – see our post “Is it Better to Type and Touch or Write and Mark?“.

Digital Calendar

Benefits of Using Digital Planners and Online Calendars

The “techies” reading this post will, most likely, disagree with the benefits listed above. However, there are both very obvious and less obvious benefits to using technology as a calendar, diary or digital planner.

A calendar app, such as Google Calendar, has far more space to add details to appointments. You can include when an event starts and finishes, where the event is, add your contacts to the event and add custom notes such as “remember rain coat”. All this information would not fit into a section on a diary page, and maybe not even a full page, especially if you have multiple events/appointments in one day.

Calendar Syncing

Another major plus digital solutions have over pen and paper is the option to add other people to an event or appointment. Syncing with colleagues, friends or loved ones calendars offers a multitude of benefits including notifying everyone an hour before an appointment. Also, one person can create the appointment to update everyone’s calendar rather than everyone having to write it down themselves in their own diary. A synced calendar is great for both the workplace, families and relationships allowing everyone to remain in sync, organised and up to date on what each other is doing.

Reminders and notifications also offer an advantage which diaries can’t. Birthdays for example, you can receive a notification on all your devices both a week before, 2 days before and on the day. This reminds you to buy a birthday present and card in advance, post the card 2 days before and send a Happy Birthday message on the day. Equivalent reminders in a written diary would have to be written down four times, showing the digital solution in this instance both saves time and effort. Not only does it save time, but your notification can be set up to pop up on all devices reducing the chances of you missing a reminder.

Cloud Storage

Cloud and Online Backup

Most calendar apps will sync online, automatically creating a mirrored backup in the cloud. Don’t have your phone or tablet with you? Log into your calendar online via an internet browser. If you don’t have your diary with you, there’s no online backup and no way to view appointments/events. If you get a new phone or upgrade your tablet, once logged into your calendar app you immediately have access to all your appointments again.

The last advantage of online calendars I’ll mention is that you can have recurring appointments. What’s the first thing you do when you get a new diary or calendar? You add the birthdays of those important to you. With the digital counterpart, Birthdays and other specified events automatically recur each year. This means you only need to add these to your calendar the once.


Paper Diaries

  • No wires, chargers or network needed
  • Tried and trusted for hundreds of years
  • No annoying notifications
  • Gives you a break from technology
  • Writing things down is good for your memory

Online Calendars

  • More scope to go into detail on appointments/events
  • Cloud sync/backup
  • Saves time
  • Add and notify other people to event/appointment
  • Easily add recurring events such as Birthdays

There are pluses and negatives for both methods of maintaining an online calendar and diary. The best solution will always come down to the individual. If you’re tired of your phone constantly buzzing and beeping, a diary will give you a break. If it’s convenient to have everything you need in one place, including your calendar, on your phone, then why carry an extra item everywhere? The choice of which method is best is down to you; both methods work, it’s simply down to which benefits appeal to you.

In our shop we offer a range of diaries and personal planners as well as compact pens designed for using with touch screens.

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One response to “Paper Diaries vs Digital Planners and Online Calendars”

  1. my diary says:

    I’ve gone back to using a paper diary years ago. I was fed up with losing everything because my phone broke. My wife usually gives me a personalised diary for Christmas with all her favourite pictures from last year. I’m already excited what’s in my photo diary 2018, there’s usually some photos in there I haven’t seen before (no, nothing naughty if you were thinking that).

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What is the write size?

21st January 2019

by Guest Writer Penn’orth.

Pretty much everyone receives mailings. Most mailings end up in the recycle bin (destined to add to carbon emissions and waste resources). The junk mail I receive is shredded to be tossed into our compost bin in our garden. Every so often, there is something about the mailshot that catches your eye. In this instance it is a modest sized A5 brochure full colour six paged from a company called Write Size. This grabbed my attention, quite why I don’t know.

Recycling Bin

The Brochure emanated from a company called Write Size who were advertising their range of different sized pencils which the Company claims help children who are learning to write to establish a good grip which in turn helps their writing to ‘flow’.

At this point, I must declare an interest. I am deeply concerned about the ‘Educators’ across many parts the world who are charging head along towards the abandonment of handwriting in favour of only teaching keyboarding skill. This will detriment of developing in-depth understanding of language and the ability to use much more precision in employing words, not just through a spell checkers suggestions.


Therefore, product developers such as Write Size, who seek to encourage the development and use of writing by hand, are to be applauded.

Now Back to Write Size

The innovation by Write Size is to initially produce a range of pencils in three different sizes that have been scaled to fit children’s hands. This help’s the youngsters feel more comfortable when writing.

The pencils are ‘scaled’ for children of 2 to 6 years, 6 to ten years and those over ten.

Child holding pencil

It is also good that the company is supporting education in developing African countries too!

I do have a little concern which may be dispersed when I am able to use the pencils up close. A pencil is used and is sharpened, weight (a little) and the whole feel probably will shift and change. I would be very interested to see how such a pencil alters during its life.

For the moment it is ‘Thumbs up’ for innovation and another for encouraging and supporting children to write.

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Is this the most successful pen in the world?

21st January 2019

In the beginning (see my other blog, Solved – who invented he fountain pen) when fountain pens were beginning to exert real influence across the world, and yet were basically two tubes, a feeder and a nib, the unpredictable nature of the manufacturing process with a difficult material (black, hard, vulcanised or chased rubber) lead to problems with pens leaking. Many solutions were tried but most were not very successful or reliable. A metal sleeve sealed on three side was fitted into a gentleman’s suit jacket breast pocket, inside or out to contain any leakage of ink – very effective at containing ink but when the user extracted the pen from the sleeve it was often covered in ink, which was, of course, transferred to the gentleman’s hand……

Retractable Nibs

One of the earliest solutions, surprisingly still used to this day, is the retractable nib. Pens were manufactured with a moveable nib and feed section with a screw thread on the inside of the barrel which matched up to a thread on the outside of the feeder which carried the nib and screwed up inside the barrel. A sealing washer, usually of cork (not many synthetics at this time) helped to stop leaks, known as the ‘Safety pen’ this attempt was used by a number of pen manufacturers, but wasn’t always successful. For a look at a modern retractable nib pen seek out the Mont Blanc Boheme range, which are short ‘pocket’ or ‘handbag’ pens, often with a synthetic coloured ‘jewel’ adorning the clip.

Capless pen

Onoto THE pen

A rather more complex design was one championed by Onoto, the pen making arm of the De la Rue Company, best known for their security and bank-note printing, Titled on the barrel as ‘Onoto THE pen’ it is alleged that the name was chosen because it sounds the same in all languages. They produced high quality pens in BHCR (black, hard chased rubber, produced using the vulcanising process patented by Charles Goodyear in 1844 and used for making tyres.

Vulcanised rubber can be moulded and turned on a lathe and will polish to a high gloss although it is brittle and prone to oxidation. In early part of the 20th century perfected the plunger method of filling a fountain pen where a knob, on the end of the barrel and connected to an internal rod with a sealing ring inside the pen is unscrewed from the end and pulled out to its maximum, the nib is inserted into the ink, the plunger rod pushed down swiftly and with the vacuum created, the pen fills by using the external air pressure. Onoto also provided a seal, where by twisting the filler knob on the end of the barrel closed off the ink flow, making the pen leak-proof. The Onoto pens were highly regarded and popular, as witnessed by Winston Churchill writing home whilst serving in the trenches of the First World War: “Please send me an Onoto pen, I have stupidly lost mine!”

New Materials

With the 1920’s and 30’s came many innovations in pen manufacture, including new materials such as celluloid – bringing an enormous variety of colours and innovative filling systems and the first sight of a ‘click’ action retractable nib pen in the 1922 film ‘Dr Mabuse der Spieler’ Directed by Fritz Lang, there is a scene where Dr Mabuse brings out a pen and presses down on the end of the barrel, writes some word then presses the end of the barrel!

By 1932 the first firm evidence appears with the launch of the ‘Pullman Pen’ by the French company Meteore. This looks remarkably like the modern day Pilot Capless, using a push-button (click) action at the bottom of the barrel, differing only where the tiny door that seals the nib and feed is outside the barrel unlike the Capless, where the door is concealed inside the barrel and the main material is rippled multi-coloured ebonite rather than modern day metal.

Capless pens

In 1934, Italian company Aurora launched the Asterope which exposed the nib using button sliders to push the nib outwards and to retract it.

Over the next 30 years many innovations appeared in the world of fountain pens, including new materials such as acrylics with their astonishing range of colours, new filling systems such as cartridges, successful in the 1950’s after the first attempts in the 1890’s

Then in 1964, Japanese company Pilot Namiki introduced the Capless/Vanishing Point to coincide with the Tokyo Olympic games. Beautifully constructed, this is a serious pen, yet sales were mostly confined to Japan, with some being brought to the US with returning US Service Military and business people, until….

The Internet burst into life and EBay arrived resulting in many items hitherto restricted to Japan and their immediate neighbours being made available to the wider world. Pilot subsequently went on to market the Capless world wide with special editions, new finishes and colours understandably gaining fans across the globe.

Capless Fountain Pen

So, is it the most successful pen ever? Maybe not yet, but I predict it will be one of the most long lasting pens in production. It will have some way to go to beat the Parker 51, but given I am currently using my fourth, long may it continue

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