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Returning to A Thought...

Returning to A Thought...

In 2007, we started BLOG Zentangle and began our enjoyable series of conversations within our Zentangle community.

In reading through these blog posts with their insightful comments, we decided to bring a few of them to your attention from time to time. It is easy, for me anyway, to sometimes think of old information as stale information. But these insights and conversations are anything BUT stale!

Julie writes...

When I am teaching a Zentangle class, I always start my classes the same way. I advise my students to clear their spaces of any distractions, to get comfortable and to take a moment to practice gratitude. One of the things I always express is my gratitude for this opportunity to put pen to paper. There is something so magical about putting pen to paper

There must be something in the air lately about this idea - that putting pen the paper is special - because it has come up a lot in my conversations lately. It came up in the class I taught last week. It came up when talking about a handwritten note my husband and I received recently. It came up when I was talking about when I was in college and although I always had a laptop with me, I took all my notes by hands.

Then, yesterday, I was searching in the Zentangle Blog archives for something unrelated, when I stumbled upon this blog from 2011 about putting pen to paper. Since it has been on my mind lately, I thought I would share it with you all.

I invite you to enjoy this post from December 2011...


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Rick writes:

In this morning's websurf, I landed on, Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing Than Typing.

The act of writing helps you clarify your thoughts, remember things better, and reach your goals more surely. Here's a look at the science and psychology behind writing, and why the pen may be mightier than the keyboard. 

Zentangle is all about putting pen to paper, so I wanted to read this. I encourage you to read it, too.

Today there are fewer and fewer reasons to put pen to paper. So when you do put pen to paper, it has a greater impact. Putting pen to paper creates an intimate closed loop as your eyes focus on your pen and its ink. This experience is primal and immediate.

In other systems that loop is broken. If your fingers are on a keyboard, mouse or tablet, your eyes are usually on a screen. If you're watching your fingers type (even on a typewriter), the result is also elsewhere. Even if you are using a stylus on a touch screen there is a technical gap between stylus and screen image. As your movements are translated through computer processors and software into pixels on your display, your stylus never really "touches" your creation.

My takeaway from this article (not surprisingly) is that the magic of writing longhand is in what happens because you put pen to paper, not just because you are writing.

This article reinforces how valuable the practice of the Zentangle method is. The benefits of putting pen to paper don't depend on how good you are, they depend on doing it. The Zentangle method provides the structure and freedom for you to enjoy this process without expectations or self-criticism. I think that's an important and easily overlooked reason for the benefits and enjoyment that Zentangle provides.

As you enjoy creating something in a Zentangle way, fresh and creative ideas have a way of popping up. Keep another sheet of paper handy to capture those idea jewels!


Julie Willand


  • The other day I started a simple zentangle tile and decided to use Printemps, one of my ‘go to’ patterns. As I began drawing I felt a sense of being transported to a calm and quiet place. It was actually quite spiritual for me. I have been tangling almost daily for several years now and the joy I get goes on and on. Recently I was at an antique show and spotted an old ink well and pens like the ones I used in school. It took me back to those days when writing was required and used every day. As a retired teacher teaching cursive writing to my grade four class was one of my very favourite lessons. How very sad that our grandchildren are not taught the beautiful act of putting pen to paper as we did. They are the poorer for it.

    Bunny (Frances) Wright on

  • When I was a child I saved my allowance to buy paper to draw, write, create. I learned italic calligraphy and used to carry my special pen to write checks and whatever else was needed. I addressed wedding invitations for my sons’ weddings. Right now I’m planning to create 30 Zentangle tiles to give as gifts during a meditation retreat I will attend at the end of March. I am sad that my teenage grandson cannot read the messages I write for him in his birthday cards because he can’t read cursive! What a great loss!

    Mary Lou Minard, CZT 32 on

  • Good paper, of all kinds, and a pen are so precious to me!

    Occasionally, when I begin to write I think about the Middle ages and what a privilege it is to be able to express ourselves in this way. It’s akin to walking into a glorious Cathedral filled with spectacular colored light. How humbling it must have been for those who lived with tiny dark windows and candles!

    Mary D'Angelo, CZT 32 on

  • Good paper, of all kinds, and a pen are so precious to me!

    Occasionally, when I begin to write I think about the Middle ages and what a privilege it is to be able to express ourselves in this way. It’s akin to walking into a glorious Cathedral filled with spectacular colored light. How humbling it must have been for those who lived with tiny dark windows and candles!

    Mary D'Angelo, CZT 32 on

  • Good paper, of all kinds, and a pen are so precious to me!

    Occasionally, when I begin to write I think about the Middle ages and what a privilege it is to be able to express ourselves in this way. It’s akin to walking into a glorious Cathedral filled with spectacular colored light. How humbling it must have been for those who lived with tiny dark windows and candles!

    Mary D'Angelo, CZT 32 on

  • As a calligraphies, I enjoy doing Zentangle in my daily journaling. I am a card maker and an avid scrapbooked. I incorporate both. They definitely enhance whatever I do. Thank you fo all the wonderful posts from others.

    ELaine NOvak on

  • Absolutely true! How I love putting pen to paper, especially a paper with texture and SOUND! I discovered this affinity for feel and sound in paper when a childhood friend moved to Europe. We had to use onion skin papers and air mail envelopes to keep in touch. That lusciousness of paper and sound has never left me in over 60 years! There is nothing like the sound and texture of paper that has gotten wet and allowed to dry… the crackle of it, the crinkle of it….ahhhhhh.

    Jamie Herron on

  • When I’m taking a pen and paper, mostly I’m sitting in a comfortable way, a cup of tea besides me and I know what is going to happen… It always makes me glad and it is a great lost that many young people don’t appreciate that anymore and only use the computer.

    MatheussenRia on

  • Not all jobs come with a computer attached. I regularly take notes about jobs or sketch components, and I can carry the paper or notebook into the workshop.
    I have to admit that the feel of writing on ordinary paper with an ordinary pen is so much nicer and easier than that of using a keyboard, and that is just the cheap materials!

    Catherine Gisby on

  • Ink in a fountain pen, good paper and perhaps a cup of coffee lead to words.

    Noilin Dempsey on

  • I am another who loves to collect pens, pencils and notebooks. It is for me the curiosity of what will appear with a piece of blank paper and a pen, such fun especially with the intent not to think just allow whatever to appear. As a child I loved the art & stationary cupboard at school. It was a place of magic & new beginnings where anything was possible. Have to admit I have my own large stationary cupboard at home and my favourite place to shop is Officeworks here in australia.

    wendy tann on

  • Talk about “Returning to a thought…” Here I am again! Paulette K’s comment triggered another “pen to paper” memory: I took Gregg Shorthand (at 120wpm) in High School. We also had nightly homework, which I enjoyed. The basic strokes used in shorthand are very similar to strokes used in Zentangle…maybe another reason I enjoy tangling!

    Jake on

  • This blog is spot on for me! I’m never happier than when putting pen or pencil to paper! I was a calligrapher for years before I discovered Zentangle…but the two are so intertwined and complementary, it was just a natural fit for me! I also prefer writing notes by hand to typing them. There is a hand/eye coordination factor to learning, comprehension, and retention that does not occur, for me, with electronic notation. I also gift my tangles to friends and family in cards and letters. They are always well-received, often with the familiar comment: “I wish I could do that.” They don’t believe me when I tell them: “You can! Just find a Zentangle Class near you!” I am a “True Believer” in the power of the pen! Thanks, Rick & Maria!

    Jake on

  • This blog reminded me about studying calligraphy in college. Twice a week for 2½ hours plus homework.

    Loved it. Might be time to do it again.

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • I always had a fascination with paper and loved to have Pen Pals when I was a teenager. I’m still thrilled to get a handwritten note and I love to write out thank you’s with little tangles on them or included in them! People love getting them. It makes me happy to do this and the receiver is trilled to get it.

    Leslee Feiwus CZT27 on

  • I love to make greeting cards using my tile creations as centerpieces on the front side. Then, I write a message or note to the person to whom I’m sending the card. I sometimes get a card back, and when I do (and actually it is fairly infrequently), I’m always pleased. The more time I spend on the planet the more I value the marks I place on paper.

    Paula Schneider on

  • I journal by hand, not electronically. Being trained in handwriting analysis, I can watch my moods and the subconcious come to light in formation of letters and words. Literally reading-between-the-lines! Notebooks and pens are a weakness of mine, the feel of my favorite pens and thoughts crowding to the front of my mind, wanting to be the first to be placed down! Using a non-dominant hand for tangling is a whole ’nother lesson ;))

    Ginger White on

  • I think it is another aspect of the mind/body connection. And reinforcing that connection is important for both physical and mental health. Penmanship was often the first (possibly only, when art budgets are cut) time that children had to master a form of craftsmanship, and get the personal satisfaction that comes with such mastery. The digital world has a lot to offer, but is no substitute for the real one.

    Valerie H. on

  • When I was teaching (elementary school), I always reinforced to my students that handwriting was an art. We practiced this art form daily, even for five-minute intervals, but always slowing down and paying attention to the strokes…hmmm, sounds like the Zentangle Method to me! No wonder I enjoy this so much.

    Mary Kay Cass CZT34 on

  • I love pens, I hAve a collection from my journal writing days. I love paper, notebooks are my passion. Thank you with all my heart for bringing me back to these early loves😍

    Janice Undem on

  • I feel the same way! A blank piece of paper and a new pen-Heaven! I don’t understand people who ‘Zentangle’ with computer art software. They are missing the tactile experience which is every bit as important to me as what I put on that paper!

    Melinda Butcher on

  • Yes I agree. As a Montessori preK &kindergarten teacher I am always teaching and encouraging handwriting, which seems like a lost art in schools nowadays. There is something very special happening in the brain/hand connection while writing by hand. I also show the kids basic Zentangle patterns to use to fill in geometric shapes. Great practice for kids for whom handwriting is challenging.

    Myra on

  • So very true. When I write, properly write I mean, I always use pen and paper. It feels like the words come from me more directly, I feel them, and they take on rhythms and shades that simply don’t happen when I type. And of course the echoes occur – when I tangle I think of things to write, when I write I think of things to tangle!

    Jem Miller on

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