I often joke that I have an unhealthy relationship with stationery – there are pens, notepads and even post-it notes in my stash that have never been used because I am keeping them for best. Apparently I am not alone! There is even an official name for my condition.
Papyrophiliaan obsessive love of paper, but in common-usage terms, this extends to an obsessive love of all things stationery.
New stationery is seductive. A new world of possibilities is waiting for you on each blank page and only the right pen in the right colour, maybe with a doodle flourish and a flash of washi tape, can motivate you to release all the good ideas that lay dormant in your mind.
You might be aware of your condition although not of it’s seriousness, or you may be in denial. But for those of us with this affliction, there are behaviours that give us away. Do you recognise yourself or someone else with these symptoms?
- Is there one or more notepads tucked away in a drawer or cupboard, still waiting for that perfect reason to use it … and it has been there for months or even years?
- Before you make that first mark on fresh paper in a precious new notebook or journal, have you practised your handwriting rather than diving in with your usual scrawl?
- Do you have different pencil cases, tins or pots containing different types of pens and pencils, with some only used for certain jobs and others destined for every-day use?
- Will you reject a pen from your pen pot on your desk because it makes your handwriting look terrible, but still keep it in the pen pot?
- When you are asked to get involved with a new project at work, are you unable to start unless you make a quick visit to the stationery cupboard (or stationers if the project is super important) for a new, dedicated notepad?
- Does your pen stash cover a wide spectrum of nib widths where sometimes only a 0.1 or a 0.5 will do the job?
- Do you protect your pens like a lioness protects her cubs, refusing to lend one to a friend, colleague or even partner for fear of them breaking, damaging or losing it?
- Is the rule width of lined paper a game changer? Have you picked up a beautiful note pad in a store, only to replace it on the shelf in horror when you notice that the rule width is too narrow or too wide?
- Do you compare your handwriting with that of your colleagues, secretly trying to copy their style? Or maybe you try to write neater if you are sat near them in a meeting?
- Did you feel a sense of pain in 2020 when lock-down and working from home left you with a gorgeous planner that was never used to it’s full potential?
- Have you got an empty feeling inside at the start of a new school year, because you no longer make that special trip to the shops for a new pencil-case and all the lovely things to put in it?
- Have you looked for any excuse to make a list, just so you can create a list in a notepad with a lovely pen or two, then feel very pleased with yourself as you tick list items off as completed?
- Do you feel the paper thickness before selecting a new notepad, disregarding any with thin paper as you cannot cope with bleed-through ruining the look of your contents?
- Is there a dedicated cupboard or drawer in your home for stationery?
- Have you bought washi tape?
- Do you own a varied range of post-it notes in numerous sizes, shapes and colours?
If you have nodded at most of these questions, then please do not be alarmed. Collect away! Add joy and colour to your life with a stationery stash – you are perfectly normal. Our work places might be on a quest to move towards a paperless environment, but there are times when only pen and paper will do.
Not only does your habit bring you joy, the act of putting pen to paper is also good for you. By writing or taking notes, you are forced to reframe what you are thinking or hearing which in turn improves your memory and capacity to learn.
Never be ashamed to put your pens and pencils to paper – I have recently been sending note-cards to friends and family in the post, each one decorated using items from my varied stash and containing a hand written note in fountain pen. Each recipient has got in touch to say how lovely it was to receive something in the post rather than a hastily written, cold electronic message.
So hoard away my friends, ensuring you will always have something to hand when you need to send a thoughtful message to someone special … it’s a small price to pay when you can bring joy to those around you.