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Interview with Simon Whaley

We interviewed article, best-seller non-fiction book and short story writer about his favourite stationery. He tells us why paper and pen beats modern technology hands down.

My favourite pen is the Pentel Superb BK77, in black ink. I love it because it’s easy to hold and has a fine ballpoint nib. I’ve always preferred ballpoint pens, and the finer the better. My handwriting is small and not great. (Perhaps I should have been a doctor.) But if I write in a medium ballpoint my handwriting becomes practically illegible!

Simon Whaley writing in his notebook

I absolutely adore Moleskine notebooks. For me, they are the perfect notebooks for writers. They are hardback, which makes them ideal for writing in wherever you may be: desk, chair in the garden, bed, or out on the hills. They also have a little pocket at the back, ideal for storing tickets, leaflets, or any other printed material I may pick up on a day out somewhere. I use two sizes of Moleskine notebook: the Classic Pocket and the Classic Large. The Classic Pocket is about A6 in size and perfect for when I’m out and about in the countryside undertaking a walking route description for Country Walking or BBC Countryfile magazines. I tried using a dictaphone once, but got in an awful mess when I went wrong and had to retrace my steps. And a Country Walking staff writer once took down route directions on the dictation app on her smartphone, only to get back to the office to find it had been deleted. She had to ask me to go out, retrace her steps, and record the route for her. My trusty Pentel Superb BK77 pens and Classic Pocket notebook to the rescue! See? Who needs modern technology, when good old-fashioned stationery works so well? I use the larger (similar to A5-size) notebook for writing down ideas and first drafts of stories and articles and anything else that comes to mind. These notebooks are all labelled in numerical order, because I’m sad like that 😉

I also buy plastic folders that are open on two sides for each of my writing projects. Although I have a database where I track all of my projects, I also operate a paper-base project system too. (It stems from when I used to work in a bank and we duplicated everything because computers have a tendency to crash, or delete things unexpectedly.) Everything relating to a project gets filed in one of these plastic wallets: research material, information leaflets, car parking tickets and receipts, until the project is complete. Then everything gets put onto computer and the paper copies are filed or recycled, and the plastic wallet then becomes available for a new project!

100 Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human - Icelandic Version - Published by BokautgafanHolarI write articles, non-fiction books, short stories and my agent is trying to sell my novel. I enjoy the great outdoors, both as a writer and as a photographer, so a lot of my articles are for outdoor magazines such as Country Walking and BBC Countryfile magazines. My first book, One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human, was published in 2003 and has sold over 255,000 copies. I can’t believe that, thirteen years later, the Icelandic edition has just been published. I’ve also written books for writers, including The Positively Productive Writer and The Complete Article Writer. I’m currently working a new book of personal essays, perhaps described as landscape writing, which will also include several of my photographs.

Find out more about Simon Whaley and his writing on his website www.simonwhaley.co.uk and Twitter: @simonwhaley

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