A Writer Quirk

Due to extenuating circumstances, I’m now on my fourth pair of brand new headphones and my fifth pair that I’ve used this year. Many of my readers will note that every time a pair has broken, I get really upset (sometimes more than the situation seems to warrant). This is in part, because I hate spending money on something that just breaks a few months later. It’s not cool. But more so, it has interrupted my ability to function in a way that I’m accustomed. That is why this entry is dedicated to a special writer quirk.

As I’ve met more and more fellow writers, I’ve come to realize that we’re a weird bunch, but more importantly, we like to have things a certain way. This of course varies in severity from writer to writer, but we like what we like and will not be happy until it’s that way. From writing implements to what season it is, some things just have the ability to make the words flow better than others and these are some of mine.

HeadphonesOkay, Colleen, tell me about the headphones…

What? – Well, so far, I haven’t be able to attach to any brand in particular, because they keep breaking. I’m rather rough on them, and they see a ridiculous amount of use. The best pair of headphones that I ever owned were a pair of SkullCandy, which lasted me nearly three years, but they’ve stopped carrying this particular model. And this makes me very sad. (Okay, everybody keeps telling me that none of their SkullCandy headphones have lasted more than three months. When did this happen? Didn’t they used to be good?) Since it always seems to be cord that keeps breaking, it seemed logical that I should try a wireless pair. I bit the bullet this morning, purchasing a wireless pair of Logitech brand. If you’re interested, I’ll tell you how well they work.

Why? – You all know how important that music has been to my writing process, but the headphones have become an integral part of isolating myself from the outside world. The world is full of sounds that simply drive me crazy. From the dog that howls next door to the trucks backing up into our neighborhood grocery store to the construction going on down the street, I can never seem to escape the noise with the exception of when I’m wearing headphones. Earbuds do not fit properly in my ears and really hurt after a while as do all other forms of audio that hang on the ears (I’ve never been able to wear earrings for the same reason). And maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to having my head squeezed; I don’t know. I just love my headphones.


What? – Once again, this doesn’t have a whole lot to do with any sort of brand although I’m sure that given half the chance I’d be particular about that too. I’m the kind of person who likes to have a flat keyboard. I pretty much hate those keyboards with the tall keys and these horrendous gaps in between each key. And those ergonomic keyboards are a no-no as well. I won’t even go into those, but I absolutely hate them… Virtual keyboards too.

Why? – I have a few reasons for this actually including, the key placement, pressure, and sound. For the first, key placement allows me to type faster and more accurately. I have what many call piano hands (as in I have super long fingers). With the taller keys, my fingers tend to slip into the gaps between the keys more often than they do with the wider shorter keys.

It also has to do with pressure. A lot of people I know are hard typists, and I just can’t understand why. Have any of you watched a hard typist? It’s like BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM SPACE ENTER!!! And I’m sitting there like “OMG, what did the keyboard ever do to you that you have to punish it like that?!” I only type like that when I’m mad. I’m a soft typist. If I weren’t, you can imagine my fingers would get really sore and they have. The taller keyboards require more pressure than the shorter ones and therefore force me to be what I’m not.

And finally, there’s sound. I know, I know, I’m weird when it comes to sound. But the taller keyboards are make a lot more noise. First, there’s how hard that you press the key. Second, the keys rattle together after a while. Third, eventually, the springs wear out and creak. And fourth, one of the worst sounds in the world is when something gets underneath one of the keys. But at least they don’t make those really loud clicking sounds that the old time keyboards used to make.


What? – My favorite pen in the world is the black Sanford Uniball brand micro point pen. I love these pens.

Why? – I love them, because they’re inky but not too inky. The ink isn’t too think like in most ball point pens but they don’t run all over the place. And most important is that the ink doesn’t sparkle. Not even a little bit. They’re the right thickness and the right balance of weight. They glide across the page especially if I’m writing in cursive, and my handwriting looks like calligraphy.

And finally, a story. There used to be a time when I couldn’t just sit on my computer all day. I had to go to school. So, I would pretend to pay attention and wrote during class. Then on the weekend, I would type it all in. Well, one day, my dad put a can of WD-40 on about 20 pages of my manuscript I had sitting on the desk. I went ballistic. The grease ran down the side of the can and soaked into the paper. Yes, the paper was suddenly see-through and the purple lines bled like crazy, but the ink withstood it. Every word that I had written was perfectly preserved.


What? – My favorite paper is the Mead college ruled paper with the purple lines.

Why? – Once again, it has a lot to do with comfort. Honestly, it came down to the grain of the paper. The Mead paper had the lowest grain paper and was therefore the smoothest. While I liked the idea of getting super textured paper to make it feel like it was old it didn’t work out for me. Since I wrote so much, I was dragging my right arm across the page really frequently, and truth be told, any other paper chaffed. This isn’t so much of a problem now, but I do still buy a lot of paper to write out my notes, and I will not buy another type of paper.


What? – Fall

Why? – Autumn is my favorite season. Maybe because everything around is dying, but it just makes my soul happy. I cannot explain it, but when the weather starts getting colder, the leaves start changing, and every house you walk into smells either of apples and cinnamon or pumpkin, you will never find me happier. This is when I do most of my writing. Not only did I write Wingéd in just four months, completely unheard of in my world, but I also rewrote it in the exact same time frame. It may be strange to have this one season be the only time that I feel “right”, but the results don’t lie.

Okay, guys, it’s your turn. Is there anything that you absolutely need when you write?


3 thoughts on “A Writer Quirk

  1. Completely random observations:
    1. I think the writers who need things a particular way are a subset of all writers. Maybe the “kinda autism spectrum” subset, which would include me.
    2. Some of us hard typists learned to type on manual typewriters! There was actually a piece of metal that you had to move to make a letter on a page! And 30 years later, I still type like that. Because I’m resistant to change (see observation 1).
    3. Uniballs absolutely rule.

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