Imagine my horror upon sitting down at my computer to continue working on a script only to receive the following message from a poet friend of mine: “Hey, Lo. Have you ever considered writing in Comic Sans?”
“Why, pray tell, would I ever do such a terrible thing?” I answered. That’s when I caught wind of the latest rumor in writing, currently circulating on social media: Comic Sans allegedly improves speed and creativity in vast amounts.
Willing to be the cat who is killed by curiosity, I was determined to get to the bottom of the Conundrum of Comic Sans. It sounded too astounding to be true. So, despite my own intrinsic disgust at the sheer prospect of writing in the font that designers despise for its lack of weight management, a font whose sheer ugliness has been made into a meme, a font so baffling infantile that its commemorative use regarding the former Chilean President Pedro Aguirre Cerda drew backlash… I proceeded.
And, so far, it has been a wonderful experience. No, really.
I usually write in Book Antiqua, a Palatino clone now licensed by Microsoft. The font is sleek yet playful, intelligent yet humble, and doesn’t hurt your eyes to read for long periods of time. It’s the font in which I first read one of my favorite books, Love in the Time of Cholera. It seems to add a kind of personal, calligraphic beauty to text, without being too snobby.
However, through writing in Comic Sans for the past week or so I’ve come to realize that choosing a font that makes writing look and feel fresh could actually be detrimental to my creative process. I’m working on my second novel currently. That said, it exists as a word document on my laptop. It’s only a draft. It isn’t a finished product, nor is it published, and if William Faulkner taught me anything about writing, it is this:
“In writing, you must kill your darlings.”
Seeing one’s own work stripped of pretension down to its most basic level, language wearing children’s clothes, is a powerful thing. By the second or third day of writing in Comic Sans, I found myself feeling freer than ever to make silly mistakes, take risks, and explore stranger territories.
In result, the word count of my novel has doubled in the past week.
There is no magical solution to writer’s block, but sometimes even the smallest changes of habit can remind us of our own meek position as artists. The more I began to write in Comic Sans, the more nostalgic I felt for my elementary school days, in which I would un-ironically write in Comic Sans and tell people that I was going to be a “real author someday”.
So perhaps we can put an end to the Conundrum of Comic Sans: it’s not pretty, but hey, maybe it’s art.