Over the past few weeks I have been looking back on posts I’ve written on since commencing dept4 in May 2013, and more specifically, thinking about what I plan to spend my time writing about moving forward.
For the most part, I have written about coffee, my favourite technology, and miscellaneous pieces about various things on my mind at any given time. A couple of posts hint at a slight obsession with pens, and this is an area certainly in need of more attention. I had initially planned to write more on productivity, workflows and self-improvement – however the productivity and workflow topics remind me a little too much of my office job. Perhaps that makes me well qualified to write on such matters, however to be honest, they are topics I feel least like writing about in my spare time. Self improvement? Perhaps that lies somewhere in between.
Granted, many of my posts touching on technology do indeed have some crossover into the productivity and workflows realm, however most of these have a personal productivity bent, rather than a specific office based one.
As I mentioned above, an area that has only seen a couple of posts to date, though is an area of intense interest for me relates to pens and paper (well actually, think anything in a stationery cupboard). This has been further compounded by embarking recently onInCoWriMo, or International Correspondence Writing Month, to the tune of sending a letter a day for the entire month of February. I have written more about my InCoWriMo experience here.
In this age of Twitter and Instagram, what would possess me to hand-write a letter a day until number 28 is posted? Pen and paper, plain and simple. My decision to participate in InCoWriMo is a point reached along a journey that has come a little way, though has many more miles left to run. A journey to be punctuated (quite literally) by many combinations of fountain pens, inks, rollerballs and even ballpoints, on a varied terrain of notebooks, pads and whatever paper I can reasonably lay my hands on – this I am sure of.
I have always been interested in pens. I distinctly remember the few basic Parker Jotter and Sheaffer pens from high school. My foray into Artline 200 fineliners, and the decision as to whether the 0.4 or 0.2mm version better suited my writing style (neither by the way, we are talking teenage boy penmanship here!). Then, onto the decision of whether I preferred blue or black ink. Throughout my university days the experimentation continued, though at a slower pace, until I received my first fountain pen in 1997 as a wedding gift from my wife. Seemingly that was pretty much it, the be all and end all of pens for me – until about 18 months ago. Don’t get me wrong, there was still much experimentation going on in the sub $10 office supply store pen category, simply not much beyond that.
I’m not exactly sure what piqued my interest again, however I began doing a few internet searches one day and stumbled across some sites recommending Rhodia and Moleskine notebooks (I think through researching the GTD method of productivity, and discovering a few Moleskine pocket notebook “hacks” for analogue versions of this system). One thing led to another and I soon found Brad Dowdy’s The Pen Addict, both blog and podcast, and from there it was all over. A similar fate has befallen many who stumble across Brad and his now infamous “penabler” influence to many followers around the world.
Through listening to the podcast and a little self experimentation, I have since purchased a few pens and notebooks, and am currently researching my next mid priced fountain pen to add to my collection. My Montblanc Meisterstuck will always remain my most valuable pen, both sentimentally, and likely monetary, however I am planning on starting again from the bottom and building a more varied collection. My own “beyond the office supply store” stationery cupboard if you will.
So, what does this mean for this blog moving forward? I would say a continuation of what you have already seen on the coffee and technology fronts, and an increasing amount of pen and paper related articles as my journey continues down this road. Where will these all fit in my current post categories of Thoughts, Improvement, Coffee and Tools? That I am not sure, though some of the categories could become a little more specific, and I will be giving this some more thought as things progress.
Let’s get to it then
Although I have broken and continue to break the cardinal rule of blogging, by writing about a variety of topics rather than focusing on one, I plan to continue, simply because I do not see dept4 as solely a Coffee, Pen or Tech blog, nor do I have any immediate plans to make it such. I have a keen interest in, however am not an expert in any of these topics.
Although there will be common themes running through those areas of interest, I do enjoy the freedom of writing on pretty much anything if the mood strikes me. Who knows, perhaps these topics may become more defined and specialised, spinning off into their own blogs in the future. Whilst I am loathe to rule out anything completely, I have no plans to undertake this in the near future.
As I write this, post number 84, I am pretty happy with most of what I have published over the past 10 months or so, and believe things have come a long way from my initial plans for the site. If being a “jack of all trades and master of none” limits my readership, (which has grown beyond what I could have ever imagined anyway, for which I am eternally grateful), then you may as well start calling me Jack.Follow @petedenison
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