Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Favorite Font

Ever since I can remember, I've wished to be one of those eccentric writers - a ritualistic master. Yep, you know 'em. The writers who has to have exactly five pencils, sharpened to a point, lined up beside the paper. A meatball sub for lunch every day. A playlist a mile long, always effective if listened to while taking the dog for a walk in the afternoon. 

But try as I might, I couldn't commit to any oddity. It was like my brain refused to go along with me. If my brain and I sat across the table from each other, drinking orange soda, my brain would say, "None of that stuff works for you, Kim. You don't need it to write." 

Yes, brain. You're so right. 

But after spending about a year and a half in grad school, I've gotten into the rhythm of writing a lot.  I usually sit on couches, with my laptop in my lap, and dread working at a desk since I spent so much time behind one when I'm in the office at school. I write cross-legged, pillows piled behind my back, usually with the added background noise of the television set. Actually, as I'm writing this post, Toddlers & Tiaras is jammin' out on the screen. When I look up and see those doll-like little girls in cotton candy dresses, I laugh a little and write another sentence. This is not a ritual, though a common occurrence. I like to write all over the house (not literally), taking the couches by storm. 

When it comes to the actual word document, though, I think I've finally found something that I have to do to write: use a particular font. 

Once upon a time, I was a plain old Times New Roman girl. And when I got to college, I had a brief fling with charming Garamond. But now, in grad school, I feel as if it's very final. 

I'm addicted to Bell MT.

- From Birdcage Girl

Surprisingly enough, Wikipedia is the best hub in which to learn all about typeface history (of which I linked to above). I think that the idea of fonts are so much more meaningful when you remember that people actually made each letter. That's really something. When I read the history, about all these supervisors and how certain fonts were popular, fell out of fashion, and were revived again, I can't help but think of fashion or celebrities that filter through the gossip magazines. Fonts go through the same thing. Remarkable. 

- From "The Princess & Her Shadow"

I digress, haha. I don't recall how I found Bell MT, but it was love at first type. I guess I feel that the style of the letters fits the kinds of stories I write; I haven't switched fonts, like I used to do, when writing different stories. Except for Flour House, I've written all of my Figment stories in Bell MT.  

If I try to write in a different font, the story just won't flow. It's an interesting predicament. If anyone sat behind me, watching me filter through other fonts with growing frustration, I'd explain that, "none of these fonts match the story. It just doesn't fit." And this is coming from someone who has an undying love for third-person stories. Even without an in-your-face narrator, my stories do have a certain voice and personality. They seem to slip right into Bell MT. 
I wonder... do my writers out there have their own rituals or preferences when they write? Do you have a favorite font or one you can't stand to write in? How about line spacing, boarders, background colors? I'm curious to know :)


  1. Since you asked ...

    So far as writing rituals go, to me I just want to write which is difficult enough, and the idea of piling on my own eccentricities on top of it .... *slaps forehead* I don't think I could do it! Be that as it may, whenever I read, write, study, etc, I strive to make myself comfortable, and a pot of coffee or tea helps.

    I don't often listen to music when I write, though sometimes if there's a particular mood I'm trying to convey in my writing I'll pick a song. Writing about heart break? "Cry Me A River" by Julie London. Anger? "Infected" by Bad Religion. Hope? "I Found A Reason" by Cat Power (the song stuck in my head at the moment).

    So far as fonts go, there's actually a science to this, and it's one I've given a lot of thought to. First off, your eyes are round. We actually see things spherically. Sharp edges, like the serifs on letters, actually impede the ability of the eye to move from letter to letter, word to word. Our eyes like roundness, not corners and edges. So. I prefer fonts that are less blocky. Also, I like sans serif fonts. My settled favorite to write in: Calibri. Simple, easy, effective. Your Bell MT font has serifs, but it's more rounded so that's points in its favor.

    I also like Andes font for flashy, showy, old-timey effects in advertistments. And I like Courier, which violates all my rules (serifs and blocky) but ... it was the typeface of ye olde typewriters and it has a charming, old timey effect to it too.

  2. @Ben Woah, thanks for the response! Hmm, I usually have to work with noise, just because I'm so used to it after spending four years in a dorm room with constant noise. There's no such thing as silence in college, haha. Yeah, I have playlists for my projects; they usually help keep me focused if my mind is wandering :)

    I like your theory on fonts. I'm okay with seifs, for sure, but I like a tad of roundness to create some kind of softness - a delicacy that inspires, you know? Calibri is pretty good; it actually my default. I'm actually worried that if I ever set Bell MT to default, I'll suddenly get sick of it *shivers*

    Courier is awesome - especially for the reason you mentioned :)

  3. For some reason I write long things in Courier (no idea why, since I kind of hate it visually), and short things in Calibri.

  4. I'm a Times New Roman girl myself, but I have a different font for typing lectures. Don't know why really, they seem to require fancy fonts :)

  5. Your brain is very wise. I'm curious, is orange soda its beverage of choice? :)

    I am very much admiring your writing discipline right now. Especially as my concentration level has been shockingly poor lately. Might have something to do with the wonderful world of British telly that can be found on YouTube.... heh.

    Bell MT is a beautiful font! That's really fascinating what stories are behind fonts and how they go in and out of fashion. I never realized that before.

    I certainly don't have rituals, but I do have a few preferences! I like to be alone when I write. When other people are in the room it "disturbs my aura" and I can't concentrate, haha. I like to have music playing too. Lately, I prefer upbeat and slightly funky music because sometimes that increases productivity more than folk music.
    I don't really have font preferences. I usually use Calibri, which is the default. Though now that I think about it, I do sometimes change the font to match what I feel the mood of a story is. Like, if the story is being written by the character in a journal or something, I make the font one that looks more like it could be someone's handwriting. And I don't know if this is still true or not, but my sister used to have an obsession with the font Papyrus!

  6. Hmm, I've not really thought about it too much. I suppose it all depends on what I'm writing and the mood I'm in. Sometimes I like some music (it has to be lyricless though, like classical and symphony and violin because otherwise I won't focus on my own words) and sometimes I need silence (I'm rather easily distracted). I also prefer to be alone, probably due to the aforementioned horrid attention span. I truly admire your work ethic and hope to be able to have something similar one day. I never really put too much thougt into fonts, but I suppose I'll have to consider it more closely now...

    Hope you're well dearest


  7. I love writing in Scriveners, with my very favorite font, 'Cochin.' I love that font more than anything. I don't know what I'd do without it...

    Actually, I'd be fine without it. But I still really love it!

    I also love listening to music as I write. It tunes out the world, and gives me a good writing mood.

  8. This is so interesting. I had no idea other writers were as font-obsessed as I am!
    I tend to like fonts that are easier to read, but I definitely "hear" a font in the voice of my story and always get back into the same vibe when I see it on the screen again. Lilla & the Tower is written in Constantia, and TDS is actually in Consolas, which is a very fun, typewriter-ish one which I've never used before. More and more I've noticed that I need absolute silence to write, but I also have an iTunes playlist where I've grouped all my songs that have no words--just instrumental or soundtrack stuff. If ideas are really flowing, though, I'll sit in perfect silence and write with no music, no messing with the font or spacing, nothing.
    I love hearing what other people do! And it sounds like there are some fun fonts that I need to go try out.