Planning to Be Desperate

Several years ago, I read about someone making the decision to immediately throw away any pen that didn’t write. 

Sounds logical.  I was relieved to know that an otherwise normal-seeming person struggled with this, and I determined to do it too.

As someone who was forever finding and then re-finding pens that were out of ink, I’ve tried to be conscious about not putting non-working pens back into the drawer.

Because grabbing a pen (usually in a hurry), only to find that it doesn’t write . . . is near the top of the list of Life’s Most Annoying Little Things.

This morning, I grabbed a pen to do my Bible study.  While technically, the pen wasn’t out of ink . . . it was very difficult to write with it.  It didn’t guide smoothly and certain sections of my already messy handwriting were made more difficult to read by the ink randomly cutting out.

I was annoyed enough to get up and find a new pen. 

I started to put the not-unusable-but-super-annoying pen back into the drawer.  But then I stopped myself.  I realized that I was putting it back just in case I was ever desperate. 

I do this a lot.

I plan to be desperate. 

I’m not so good at thinking ahead enough to remember to grab a new pen at the store, but I’m great at thinking ahead enough to know that I’ll forget to grab a new pen at the store.

So I keep the old one.

The almost-no-good one.


I threw that pen away.

I’m sure I’ll regret it someday.  Y’know, when I’m desperate.





  1. 1

    What?! You didn’t shake the pen, try different angles, tap the pen, scribble on the paper to make it write, etc. Hmmm……this is a new idea to me, this throwing away of pens that don’t work. I’ll have to ponder this. Thanks for the (should be completely obvious but isn’t) tip!

  2. 2

    Love that you tagged this post “figuring myself out” – that is key, I think, to finding a system that works for each of us individually. Some people would know which pen is for use in desperation only. Not you. Not me either! Best to just chuck what doesn’t work (literally and figuratively!) and move on. Thanks, Nony!

  3. 3

    I do the “save the pen even if it doesn’t work” thing ALL THE TIME. What makes it ten times more annoying is my children love to draw and they use up ink like crazy…thus I end up with ten pens that don’t work at all that I keep saving…LOL!
    Purposing anew to throw away a pen RIGHT AWAY if it doesn’t work. 🙂

  4. 4
    safepethaven says:

    I gave up that pen & pencil frustration decades ago. If given a promotional, cheap-o, disposable pen, they stay in one place strictly as take-aways for others (such as my tutoring students). Long ago I decided it would be overall much less expensive and frustrating to just get a really good (though not expensive) name-brand pen I like (my preference is a classic Cross or Papermate), then just get standard refills for them as needed. Same works for me with pencils; have used only mechanical pencils w/refillable leads & erasers since the late 1960’s. Works for me.

  5. 5

    I have the drawer of doom? The drawer where I put all those pens and “things”. Then I go into a cleaning frenzy and just dump the drawer in the trash only to think you’ve thrown out that elusive battery or jump drive? Throw in there a couple packs of broken crayons and some dried markers. Slowly, but surely I’m beating this habit.

  6. 6

    This years New Years resolution was,if it don’t work or its broke,don’t keep it.I haven’t completely broke myself of keeping what my hubby calls trash but I am doing better about throwing unusable stuff away.

  7. 7

    what manual are you using for scripture study? Looks interesting!!

  8. 9

    I can’t believe how often I keep pens that don’t work or don’t write well. I’m trying to do better, too. I’m sick of pulling out the same, crummy pen every time.

    We should all make a pact to THROW AWAY PENS THAT DON’T WORK!

  9. 10

    Reading this put a smile on my face…I was just looking for a pen to write with, took my DH, now he’s looking for a pen…guess it’s time to buy some. Thanks for a smile.

  10. 11

    Ugg!! I have a pen that I LOVE and appeared to be 65% full but stopped writing. I have carried it in my pocket (amongst other pens) for 3 weeks hoping one day it would magically write.
    I will throw it out NOW!

  11. 12
    Sharon M says:

    I think a lot of us with disorganization problems have that “feast or famine” mentality. It applies to a lot of things, too. You feel like you need to always have a backup, which, to a lot of people is admirable. For instance, when my kids were in diapers, I ALWAYS had wipes, spare diapers, small toys, extra juice, etc – and whenever a friend came up short during an outing, they always said, “Oh, you’re so prepared.” In reality, my bag also had wadded up tissues, and wrappers from kid food. I try to pare it down, like you do. I have been losing weight and my husband devours food so fast – I think that’s part of my problem. I feel like I need to “catch up” when we eat, or when he starts getting into the pretzels, I feel like I need to eat it now. I keep reminding myself – I can always go to the store & get more.

  12. 13

    I might just go through my pens and pencils today its kinda a good sit down project for when your to sick to run about doing other things but you don’t exactly need 24 hours sleep

    • 14

      threw away 10 not working pens, sharpened 12 pencils not including the 6 or so I through away that would break off when I tried sharpening them. I think it took me longer finding the bag than actually doing the chore but yet we so often would be in to much of a hurry when looking for a pen that works to walk to the garbage with the one that doesn’t

  13. 15

    I can totally relate to this post! I find myself doing exactly the same thing daily.
    Just wanted to let you know that you have inspired me to chronicle my own journey!

  14. 17

    Oh I know that paper you’re writing on so well! LOVE! xoxo

    {And I just detest pens that don’t write well.}

  15. 18

    In the past year or so I have started doing the same thing! Why hang on to something that won’t work right (or write! lol) What a relief to allow myself to toss those not-broken-but-totally-useless things. I never thought about the “planning” to be desperate part of it…I WAS always keeping them around for those “just in case” scenarios….not anymore! As you know, with our personality type, there is seldom only one of anything in my house so the “just in case” excuse doesn’t cut it. Thanks for putting a neat perspective on this for me.

  16. 19

    Your post made me laugh as I can so see myself in it. I have always had a LOVE for office supplies and when I was an admin. assistant for some years, I always knew to have a working pen or two within my reach. However, at home, I would get cheap/good/refillable pens and do the same thing you did – if they were meh!, I would still put them back in the drawer…maybe thinking they would magically refill themselves or start working right again? So every year around the New Year, I take all my pen cups, go through them and do an overhaul. I write with them on a large piece of scrap paper and those that dont work right? Dont make the cut and go into the trash! I love the line about “planning to be desperate” – I think alot of us messier people have the problems we do with our environments because we dont think we are worthy of nice things, etc. or the “what if” of Life bogs down our thinking. Im so glad we had your insights to help us along…thanks for sharing!

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