Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fun Facts

We all have our writing rituals and favorite creative atmospheres.

Some of us get right to work at the keyboard and type away while others write everything down on paper first.  Some of us have a favorite pen, or use a particular color ink, and others use lead pencils.

I came across some fun facts recently and wanted to share them.

For those of us who prefer writing on paper first, here are a few tidbits about paper:

1. Before the Chinese began paper making, wasps were the first creatures to produce paper.
2. A description of paper making was first written in the 2nd century CE.
3. Paper making was brought to Europe by the Arabs.
4. Wisconsin is the #1 paper making state in the US.
5. Recycling one ton of paper saves about 17 trees.

For those of us who enjoy the smooth glide of a pencil:

1. A pencil will write in zero gravity, upside down, and underwater.
2. One pencil can write 45,000 words.
3. Two million pencils are used in the US every year and most of them have erasers. The majority of pencils sold in Europe do not have erasers.
4. An average tree can make 170,000 pencils.
5. The "lead" in pencils is actually graphite. Graphite was discovered in a large and very pure quantity near Cumbria, England, in the 1500's.

For those of us who prefer writing in ink:

1. The origin of the word pen is "penna," the Latin word for feather.
2. Feather pens, or quills, were the most important writing tools for over a thousand years.
3. Quills were used as early as the 7th century AD and were used until the development of the steel-nib pen.
4. The first success for the ballpoint pen came in 1945 when 5,000 people jammed the entrance of New York's Gimbels Department Store. The pens were guaranteed to write for two years without refilling.  Gimbels sold out its entire stock of 10,000 pens at $12.50 each!

And for those who go straight to their computer:

1. The world's first computer, called the Z1, was invented by Konrad Zuse in 1936.
2. The first computer mouse was invented by Doug Engelbart in 1964 and was made of wood.
3. Thomas Watson, founder of IBM, is quoted as asserting the world would probably never need more than 5 computers. Of course, he referred to main frame computers, which his company built.
4. Once mastered, the DVORAK keyboard is twenty times faster than QWERTY.

When an idea strikes, any pen or available slip of paper works for me, but I find I'm most productive and creative when taking a lead pencil to a piece of paper before typing it into my computer. For the record, I always use both sides of a paper sheet before shredding it and then using it as compost.

Although I've heard of the DVORAK keyboard, I've yet to try using it.  Have any of you tried it yet?

What are your favorite writing tools?