Pencil stuff

I've been having problems lately with drawing - after a few hours or so my fingers are aching more than normal. I think part of the problem is that the pencil gets smaller and smaller and although I have a pencil extender, the ridges actually make my fingers hurt even more. I'm hoping the answer lies in using a cluch pencil - should mean the pencil is exactly the same length/ weight all the time. Shall test over the next few months. As a result I needed to find a way to collect the residues - so I ordered some test tubes (will collect as individual drawings rather than the years of combined shavings from traditional pencils.)
I have been contemplating doing an animation for some time - still way off actually executing but found a promising piece of software - pencil - which I'm going to try to find the time to experiment with.
Finally, recently came across a pencil of the month club, which I'm really tempted to subscribe to - problem is single pencils aren't much use to me work-wise, but then I'd probably just keep them to look at anyway!