Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ADHD + Ink = Mistakes Galore

Ever since I was a young boy in 7th grade, I have loved erasable ink pens. I never connected that love with my ADHD before, but recent evidence has shown me they’re inseparable.

When I was younger, I didn’t so much write as much as I skipped, crashed, and tumbled with a pen across the page. Somehow my attempts at cursive would drop a letter or add an extra loop depending on how distracted or excited I was at the moment. My writing was filled with crossed out mistakes as well as corrections squeezed in on the tops and sides. It was a mess.

Then Heaven sent me EraserMates. Suddenly, I could correct my constant mistakes in penmanship. I used EraserMates all through Junior High and High School. By the end of High School, however, I had switched from cursive to printed letters in all caps. It was slower, but it was also less prone to error. Even then the erasable pen was my pen of choice. I lived with the smeary ink and the blue pinky finger because I knew the trade off was worth it. I could correct my constant typos and goofs.

Mistakes G̸o̸r̸e̸ Galore

You know the kind. Complete sentences written only in your head, but somehow left off the paper. Writing music lyrics or snippets of conversation from around you accidentally into your prose. Dropped words. Complete changes of subject that ripped the readers brain in a 90° angle away from the point. My written page was an exercise in literary torture. An erasable pen was like magic for those moments. I could scrub away my mistakes and leave only a ghostly smear to mark their existence.

By the early 90s I was doing everything on computer, so programs with Autosave and Undo were my new miracles. But I still needed the ability to erase my written mistakes. When my kids entered school I tried to share my excitement with them about erasable ink, but the oldest two had no interest. Then my third daughter took to them like a viral video on Facebook . Curiously, she also had mild ADHD. She discovered she loved erasable ink for all the same reasons I did.

Fortunately for her, there is a veritable cornucopia of erasable pens on the market these days. This is a boon for you, too.


There is the traditional EraserMate, available in inexpensive disposable packs.
Downside: Smeary, sometimes faint and oily, and always somewhat erasable.
Upside: Inexpensive, available in four colors, and always somewhat erasable. Erases the easiest.

There is the more upscale eraser.max, but harder to find and still disposable unlike the fancy EraserMate pens of my youth with their pen & eraser refills.
Downside: Same as above, and difficult to find in America.
Upside: Nicer heft.

Last year Sharpie came out with their Liquid Pencil, which was simply an erasable ink pen. I tried them out for art and found them useful.
Downside: Clumpy & faint. Can scrape up its own line when laying down heavy line, and loose pen cap drives me mad. Requires a few strokes to erase, so the eraser goes fast. Comes in only black.
Upside: Feels nice in the hand, lays a good, fine line, and the ink is permanent after a while.

The newest kid on the block is by Pilot. It’s called the FriXion pen with an erasable gel ink, and it’s my new favorite. Unfortunately, it’s completely targeted to kids because of the pseudo tribal tat designs on the barrel. I’d prefer something with the cool look of their G2 Limited series, but beggars can’t be choosers. Like most gel inks, the FriXion is very smeary until it dries (about 30-60 seconds), but unlike its competitors, it lays down a very thick, solid line. Once set, it doesn’t smear, it doesn’t clump, but it can still be erased, either with the rubber nub on the barrel or any solid object. Friction makes the ink rub away. No worries about running out of erasers. What a miracle.
Downside: Kiddie-style barrel, very wet when first laid down, requires the most effort to erase.
Upside: Wonderfully, thick line, indiscernible from other regular gel ink, when dry it erases completely, doesn’t need an eraser to be erased, comes in six colors.

I never connected my love for erasable ink pens with my ADHD until I noticed how my third daughter took to the pens as I did at her age. If you have ADHD, I recommend having a few of these on hand for those times you need to write something on paper, but are concerned about making mistakes that get noticed.

Now if only somebody made an eraser for all those times I opened my mouth in public.

Follow me on Twitter for my ADHD escapades at @SplinteredMind or my novel writing over at @DouglasCootey. And if you're a glutton for punishment you can friend me on Facebook as well.