More Thoughts About Handwriting My Sermons


I’ve had a few people ask questions in response to my first post about my switch to handwriting my sermons. Now, as I hinted in that post, I’m not promising to stick with this. However, the early returns have been good (at least from my perspective).

I’m a manuscript guy. I’ve made numerous attempts over the years to get away from this, but I’ve never felt comfortable. I’ve decided to just embrace it. I think it just fits with my Enneagram type one personality. John Piper, Ray Ortlund, and Tom Schreiner are guys I’d consider heroes. They all manuscript. Why can’t I? However, I don’t think they write them with fountain pens.


As you might expect, this results in a lot of writing, especially as my sermons are generally over forty minutes. My hand gets tired. I have to take breaks. So, far, though, it’s gone well. My hand hasn’t fallen off. No carpal tunnel to this point.

In the future, I’ll describe my overall approach to sermon preparation. I’ll detail how I use this great book. In this post, however, I’ll just focus on how I write them down.

  1. Of course, I write with fountain pens. I use four or five at a time (see point #2). My main workhorse, though, is a Sailor Pro Gear with a medium-fine nib. Sailor nibs, and most Japanese nibs, run extremely fine. So the medium-fine is actually quite fine. It’s important the nibs I use are very fine. Otherwise, I won’t be able to read what I write.

  2. I use several pens, because I color-code my text. I use black for my main text, blue for Scripture passages, green for main points, red for illustrations and quotes, and purple for transitional statements. My favorite black ink is Noodler’s Old Manhattan Black, an ink exclusive to New York’s Fountain Pen Hospital.

  3. I write my manuscripts on A4 Rhodia Black Dot Pads. The paper quality is high. Bleed-through is very low. I prefer dot-grid, as I think the lines clutter up the page. The pages tear out cleanly and bind together nicely.

  4. I attach the pages together using an old-school binder (something similar to this) with plastic combs and cardstock.

  5. I mark up my manuscript significantly - underling main points, along with lines I want to speak out exactly as written.

  6. I leave three lines between each paragraph. That way, I can add in lines, if need be.

  7. I start new pages for each main point or section, so I can easily add in additional sheets, if necessary.

  8. Of course, plenty of pages end up in the trash. However, I utilize these handy Presto Pens for edits. They are easy to use and work fabulously on this Rhodia paper.

  9. On Sundays, I carry this Allegory Padfolio into the pulpit. I got a great deal on it through their special on Allegory made a couple of customizations to it for me and gave me the Drop price ($100). It’s made to fit the Rhodia pads. The front cover slides into the iPad slot and works great.

Here is one of my manuscripts. Hit me with any further questions in the comments!

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