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John Steinbeck reportedly used 300 Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencils to complete East of Eden and another 60 to produce The Grapes of Wrath. The Blackwing's performance (expressed in its famous slogan, “Half the pressure, twice the speed”) gave the pencil a cult following that continued even after it was discontinued in 1998—because who wouldn't want to use the same tool that Steinbeck and Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Finder and Stephen Sondheim used?

Other writers have been equally persnickety about their writing tools. In his Paris memoir, A Moveable Feast, Hemingway details his requirements: “The blue-backed notebooks, the two pencils and the pencil sharpener (a pocket knife was too wasteful), the marble-topped tables, the smell of café crèmes, the smell of early morning sweeping out and mopping and luck were all you needed.”

Neil Gaiman and Stephen King reportedly use fountain pens, because they both like to write more slowly and with more intention.

“I discovered I loved the fact that handwriting forces you to do a second draft, rather than just tidying up and deleting bits on a computer,” Neil told the BBC.1 “I also discovered I enjoy the tactile buzz of the ritual involved in filling the pens with ink.” (I like that he says he changes the ink color each day so he can discern how many pages he ...

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