One Pencil = 45,000 Words

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

“A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.” ~Joyce A. Myers

With one pencil you can write 45,000 words – a short novel. Actually not quite half my own novels, but then I’ve been accused of being a bit wordy at times. 

I heard this interesting fact not long ago on the radio about how many words were in a pencil, and it started me thinking about all the pencils I have laying around. Pencils no doubt full of stories if I’d just pick them up and apply the lead to the paper. William Faulkner must have liked that style of writing if this quote from him is any indication. “I’ve got to feel the pencil and see the words at the end of the pencil.”  You have to wonder if he would be saying I’ve got to feel the keys and see the words spilling across the computer screen these days. That’s more the way I write. The way many writers write. Some still pick up pen and paper. Some dictate their words. 

Did you know that you can get computer programs that enable the computer to record your spoken words? Of course I can’t even get my phone to understand when I want to call my husband, Darrell. The irritating little woman who lives in my phone comes back and says, “I can’t find barrel.” So it’s no telling what a computer would type if I was dictating a story to it.

But I do think I need that feel of the keys and the words appearing on the screen in front of my eyes. Anybody want to hazard a guess to how many words are in a computer? That takes the pencil’s 45,000 to a new level. However, computers have been known to have untimely deaths – usually right after the best scene you’ve ever written. The one you forgot to back up. Pencil leads break, but a little sharpening and they are right back to work without letting the paper lose a word. Unless the dog eats it or something. Or does that only happen with homework?

Even so, most of us began forming our letters with a pencil. Then the magic of words was at our fingertips. We could write down stories. I never tried to write a story with a pencil. I was partial to ink pens when I began writing, but it pokes at my imagination to think about being able to write a short novel with one pencil. It would have to be the right pencil. The one loaded down with imagination and nice soft lead to make the writing easy. I’d get my callus back on my middle finger like I used to have when I was in school. Then again maybe I’ll stick with the keyboard. 

How about you? How do you like to write? Ever written a whole book with one pencil? You could you know, but I don’t know if the eraser would last for me. “The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half inch eraser – in case you thought optimism was dead.” ~ Robert Brault

Thanks for reading.