Here is part two to the Personal Experience: Learning to Write With a Pen in My Mouth post I released yesterday where I will explain how to be a pen-typer. Here is a short one-minute video demonstrating how I type and write with a pen:
I’m not really one to talk since I’m used to it, but it’s actually not as difficult as it looks. I was able to teach it to myself rather quickly after only seeing it once in a film. The main thing I tell my friends when I teach them how to do it is that it’s all about control. When they try to do it, they drag the pen across the page, struggling to make it turn and make it do what they want it to do because they have a loose grip with their teeth. I recommend clamping down very hard on the pen with your teeth so that there is no room for it to move around (also don’t hold it at the tip of the pen, move your teeth a little further down onto it).
You have to hold the pen at a slight angle sticking outwards so that it isn’t vertically sticking down out of your mouth. That way you can clearly see what you’re doing with the pen because your nose isn’t in the way. Then, you control the pen with the movements of your head, not your teeth – your teeth stay still and strong. I invite you to try, most of my friends have given it a go. Even if you’re not that good, it’s always a lot of fun to try something a different way you might not have thought of before so you can imagine how other people’s everyday lives are like.
Here are some of the pros, cons and general tips I’ve learned from years of being a pen-typer
I prefer pens: Pens taste like nothing but pencils taste like wood and lead. I used to try and fix this by using pencils with the top painted but the paint would eventually flake off piece by piece into my mouth which tastes even worse. Now, if I have to use a genuine pencil, I wrap tape around the top but that also makes them magnates for hairs and dust. I recommend using pens with lead in them which write like pencils.
Pro: My drawing and writing improved drastically. After I switched to writing with a pen in my mouth my work actually became GOOD (at least for an eleven-year-old who was never fantastic at drawing anyway). Below are some of the pictures taken from one of the first projects I did with a pen in my mouth for school. I couldn’t believe what was coming out of me and onto the page! I was able to make much more detailed drawings (probably because my face was so close to the paper) and for once the pen listened to what I was saying so all the lines turned out neat and exactly how I wanted them. At the time, it almost felt like cheating because it had been so simple teaching myself how to draw like this and it made it so much easier to be better.
You will learn absolutely everything about the intricate workings of pens (something which, if you’d have told me I would eventually know a few years ago, I’d have thought you were crazy): When I first started typing with pens I had quite a lot of what I called ‘inking incidents’ where the ink suddenly starts leaking out of the pen and into your mouth. It’s never very pleasant – you end up with a dyed tongue and ages in the bathroom spitting up ink. To prevent this, you need to know how to take a pen apart, remove its ink, clean the inside until the pen’s tip is white and completely dry, and then put it back together. Inking incidents only happen after a pen is used a lot though so this is only for if you’re planning to use it for the long-term.
Con: When I’m trying to write especially neatly with a pen in my mouth, breathing while writing can sometimes make my lines messier so I may hold my breath if I want the lines to be really neat. This means I often have to ‘come up gulping for air’ and it makes me quite breathless.
You need to know how to wash pens properly and do so regularly: Unfortunately, for a pen-typer accidentally dropping a pen on the floor is much more serious than it is for most because you’ll most likely want to wash it before you put it back in your mouth again. The method of cleaning pens which I have described above is only for felt-tip pens which I use for typing. The pens which I use for writing have to, of course, have ink in them, so you need to learn how to wash them in such a way that the water doesn’t get into the ink and ruin the pen’s writing ability. I suggest washing it at an angle so the water reaches the tip of the pen but doesn’t enter it through any of its other gaps.
Pro: My typing became MUCH faster. My curled fingers definitely weren’t that great at hammering away at the keyboard.
I use fake make-up erasers: I also recommend lipstick erasers which sound really weird but they’re basically fake, plastic lipstick bottles that have erasers coming out of them instead of make-up. These are great because you can put the plastic end in your mouth and use that to erase instead of putting an actual eraser in your mouth which tastes horrible and quickly becomes patterned with tooth marks.
Con: After typing for long periods of time, I may experience teeth and neck pain from bending over so much.
You will have the biggest, weirdest pen collection: You will have to have quite a few pens because you’ll go through them rather quickly. It’s also great to experiment with lots of different pens and find out which works the best for you. Remember, not all pens will work well as typing or writing pens; some will get chewed to pieces in a matter of days, some will be too big and uncomfortable to hold in your mouth, others will be impossible to remove the ink from. I’ve recently discovered these great Top Model pens which have improved my typing speed because of their length, they seem to be bite proof and each pen has lasted me around six months so far (an eternity in pen years). In fact, I was typing with a Top Model pen in the video demonstration. However, they are rather thick and perhaps not the best for those with weak jaws.
I don’t know if there are workshops where disabled children can learn how to do something like this, but if there are, I’d love to teach one. I would also love to see your work if you wrote or tried to draw something with your mouth. It’s natural if everything looks boxy at the beginning, the round shapes and letters are always the hardest to get the knack of. That’s all from me, see you next weekend!