Cyber Lizard.

Cyber Lizard, a very very brave Comrade of the Revolution is writing a novel this month entirely by pencil!

“I am insane. Really. I am participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I am writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. And as crazy as this seems, that’s not what makes me insane. It’s the fact that I’m writing this novel by hand, in pencil. My Moleskine notebook is filled with almost 10,000 pencil-written words. Needless to say, this gives me ample opportunity to try out different pencils. I have bought several of the pencils reviewed here and used them to some extent. Here is what I have discovered.

Dixon-Ticonderoga Tri-Write HB: I found this to be a pretty good general purpose pencil. Not dark enough for me, but I like it for sketching.

Mirado Black Warrior HB: The crispness of the line was great. For some reason, I set this one aside and haven’t actually used it for my writing. I need to pick this back up and give it a go.

Dixon Tri-Conderoga HB: I love the feel of this pencil in my hand. Its finish is amazing. I really wanted this to be my favorite. Unfortunately, it was not quite dark enough for my tastes and it required more frequent sharpening to maintain a good point.

Faber-Castell GRIP 2001 2B: This one was my favorite for several days. It kept a point well and was fairly dark. I didn’t find it as comfortable as the Tri-Conderoga, but my hand held up well for long writing sessions with it.

California Republic Palomino HB: Currently my favorite pencil. I love its terrificly dark line, and it keeps a point very well. I can usually get about a half a page written before I feel the need to sharpen.

My biggest issue right now is that I need a good eraser. My two favorites, the Palomino and the GRIP don’t have erasers. I’ve been keeping an unsharpened Tri-Conderoga out when I write for the eraser, but I’d like something more compact. Any suggestions?

Now I need to go catch up on my word count since I’ve wasted my precious time writing for Pencil Revolution instead of my novel ;-)”

[Image and text, Cyber Lizard. Used with kind permission.]

23 thoughts on “Cyber Lizard.”

  1. Oh my God! That is truly heroically insane! I do hope you succeed!

    Are you deliberately restricting yourself to pencilback erasers? If not, I’ve found Magic Rub to be the best. It also comes in pencil format (where you pull at a string to expose more eraser), but that is not as good as the old-fashioned “small brick” format, which has the number “1954” on it (it’s been reliable for 51 years?). The Magic Rub is off-white, even a bit dirty-looking, and not shiny-white like some of the vinyl erasers, but I’ve found nothing to equal it for the way it simply seems to mop up graphite from the paper. (No, it is not a “wet” eraser, and leaving it out for years does not seem to reduce its efficacy.)

    The Magic Rub is great for erasing whole paragraphs with almost computer-like instantaneity, but I believe you want to keep everything, mistakes and all, for NaNoWriMo. Every little word counts…

    Don’t consider what you wrote to the Pencil Revolution as waste — just include it as something said by a pencil-loving (or -hating!) character… :-)

  2. Wow. In pencil. My hand cramps just thinking about that!

    This morning I’m at 24k and counting. I’d say I’ve written about 3k of that in pencil, away from the computer for a sanity break (also in a really boring meeting), and then typed it into the .rtf file where the bulk of the text lives. This retyping isn’t as big a waste as it would seem, since each time, I’ve ended up expounding upon the scene as I was transcribing it.

    The pencils in question for me were: a mechanical pencil I found on the conference room floor, a Mongol #1, and an HB Japanese “character” pencil. The paper was Rhodia. (If you haven’t tried Rhodia paper, or Clare Fontaine, which is identical but in a more girly wrapping, do so. It’s awesome paper! I’d say it’s even nicer than Levenger’s, and it comes in more sizes and binding styles.)

  3. Best eraser: Mars-Staedtler white. Recommended by my art teacher years ago. She called it the Holy Grail of erasers, and she was right.

  4. lorianne, I think you are exagerating my almighty-ness. I’m only partially counting by hand. Every night I transcribe what I’ve written on the computer and check the word count. So I’m far from almighty.

    On second thought, I am effectively writing this novel twice! So ahead and worship me ;-)

    Anyway, I’m averaging about 150 words per page in my Moleskine Squared Large Notebook, which I can’t recommend enough.

    Thanks for all the suggestions for erasers. I now recall the Magic Rub from my drawing classes. We were required to have both the Magic Rub and this weird putty-like eraser that could be shaped for erasing teeny-tiny little mistakes. I’ll go pick up a Magic Rub and the Mars-Staedtler white.

  5. All of this makes me wonder whether there are any pencil exchanges any one knows of? I myself have dozens of pencils lying around and languishing with no hope of transforming themselves into 50,000 words. These are mostly pencils I purchased to sample but do not like, or else bought in quantities that I’ll never get around to using.
    I imagine there are other pencil pushers with similar overstocks haunting their desks and dressers.

  6. Hi!

    I just wanted to say that the GRIP 2001 is available with an eraser too. Look here. ;) I don’t know if it’s available for purchase in the U.S. though.

  7. Actually, I found the Grip 2001 with eraser at a Crane Stationary in the US. The store was closing and they were selling the pencils at 25% off. I also found a Grip 2001 eraser, which is shaped just like the pencil.

  8. Ah, the Pink Pearl may *look* soft and luscious, but is actually abrasive. (Hmm, that sounds like a NaNoWriMo character.) I think the PP erases by dredging up a bit of the underlying paper too.

  9. Get thee to a specialty stationery or pen store. :)

    Seriously – The UFO set has been around for years – I love it! But it isn’t something a big box store will carry. And the Grip 2001 has both a matching mini-pencil shaped eraser (as does the Faber Castell 9000) and matching eraser “caps” that can be placed on the pencil. I can find these at fountain pen shops, and the stationery areas of department stores. The Grip with eraser seems to have gone away from retail stores around here about a year ago or so.

    On pencils with erasers – I hate the eraser being used up before the pencil – then you’ve got this ugly looking pencil, and as the eraser wears down, you face the risk of the ferrule scraping your paper (think fingernails on a chalkboard). The eraser can also become dried up over time. And finally, with few exceptions (Faber Castell again comes to mind), the erasers used are the pink pearl style, which isn’t my choice.

    I like the UFO for looks, and the Stabilo legend, the Staedtler Mars, and similar plastic erasers for function – they do a good job and seem to produce less waste than the common pink eraser.

  10. I am just rediscovering the joys of pencil. That is the joys of wood cased pencils. I’ve been using the mechanical kind for years. New joy is found in the wood pencil, especially with the Dixon Ticonderoga and the Tri-write which I received samples of at an office supply companies open house last month.

    My favorite eraser is the Pentel Clic eraser. Comes in a stick/pencil form or in a nice white Hy-polymer rectangle form. They are easy to find and great to use. They seem to be magic (very similar to Magic Rub.) Talk about cleaning a pencil mark and leaving a clean space.

  11. It’s the abrasives in the Pink Pearl that make it work so well. And similar abrasives are found in the erasers on the GRIP 2001 and some Dixons. Taking off a few molecules of paper won’t hurt anything;)

    That said, I’m a fan of Generals Factis. That’s baby-butt soft!

  12. True, the Pink Pearl has some pumice in it, Ron, but it’s for cleaning, not abrading the surface of the paper. (See a good history of the Pink Pearl here.) I’m not sure if the other pencils you mention have pumice in them or not. The black ones looks like they might, or some other shiny abrasive in them.

    I do know that, with few exceptions, a Pink Pearl erases pencil lines more totally than a plastic eraser. The only exception I can even name is the Staedtler Mars. For some reason, Pink Pearls seem to just smear 6B and above, though. Very soft plastic erasers are more gentle on paper, but they rarely erase better than a Pink Pearl. They make a mess and are rough, but I think of the Pink Pearl as “tough love” for penciling, a slightly more gentle Boraxo for writing and drawing.

    Still, it’s not the best eraser. But it’s cheap, easy to get and reliable. Pencil virtues galore!

  13. [Oops. I posted this to the wrong thread before.]

    The mention of “plastic” erasers gives me pause. Is the eraser on a woodcased pencil the only part of it that is nonbiodegradable then? Or should I worry about that only when the eraser is white?

  14. I just discovered this site but it has made my bookmarks! Great subject material!

    On the matter of the eraser, I have to agree – the best general purpose is a Mars-Staedler. Some of the mallaeble plastic ones available in art stores are good for softer leads, especially on coarser papers.

  15. I wrote a political protest poem (“Erasing Science”) using the expression “Pink Pearl” and no one knew what I meant by it. I am so satisfied to learn that people still use it, sell it (see an online company “Pearl” (, and promote it. Erasers rule!

  16. I’ll try the Palomino. I order the Dixons that are 1/B, the extra-soft. Darker, but more sharpening. My Dixons share time with my Parker 51s using Noodler’s Ink. Good times, good times. Keep writing.

  17. I personally think Staedler Mars Plastic erasers are good. There is this very amazing eraser called the Moo eraser. When you erase, it makes a long, thin shaving instead of dozens of dusty ones. It erases cleanly and is large, so it lasts long. Black Pearl, relative of Pink Pearl, is also great, as well as Faber Castelle GRIP. I’m very picky about my erasers. They’re awesome! =D

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