Pen and paper is often overlooked as a method of communication. Most prefer to keyboard their written correspondence, then send it via social media, a text, or email. A pen and ink is out-dated and unneeded.
Young students do not learn to read or write cursive handwriting and make due with poor penmanship if they use paper at all. When a young student needs to learn a signature, he is often sent to an art class where the instructor teaches how to develop one.
Among adults, lack of using pens has stunted their penmanship skills. Many have forgotten how to write except for the most rudimentary of script. Cursive handwriting has become a lost art. Many people are at a loss at how it happened and wonder how they could return to having decent handwriting again.
I found myself numbered among these adults several years ago. I used my computer keyboard for most of my writing needs and seldom thought to use a pen and paper. As I returned to writing novels, I discovered that something was missing in my process. I did not retain my ideas and I had trouble brainstorming.
One day, I decided to use a workbook to help plot out book two of a trilogy. The author recommended getting a paper notebook and writing all the exercises by hand instead of using a keyboard. His method asked questions about the characters and I wrote a certain amount each day for a month. I bought my first composition book and pulled out a ballpoint and got to work. At first, the writer’s block was still with me. Within a week I realized that ideas for my book were coming quickly. When I looked back over what I had written, I could remember the details better than when I was writing on my computer. Within that month, the plot for my new novel sprang into being. I became hooked on using paper.
At that time, my handwriting was horrible. I could print, but my cursive had eroded to near unreadability. The long periods of time that I was brainstorming ideas were hard on my hand and I experienced finger cramping. I did not want to give up this new method of brainstorming on paper since it worked for me. Instead I began to explore pen options. That is when I discovered fountain pens.
Why Choose a Fountain Pen?
There are many benefits to writing with a fountain pen over a ballpoint. In writing with a ballpoint, you must exert constant pressure to the page and hold the pen at a low angle. This is what creates the hand cramping when you write for a long period of time. With a fountain pen, you use a more natural writing angle, around 45 degrees when you write. This wider angle is easier on your wrist. The fountain pen flows across the page with little resistance, no pressure needed to put ink on the page. This allows you to write for longer periods of time without cramping your hands. There are a variety of nibs to choose from to give more character to your handwriting.
Plain – This is most basic shape of a fountain pen nib. It gives a clean line in your choice of width, from very fine, fine, medium, broad, and double broad. Most people find that fine to medium will work best as a daily writer.
Italic – This is also known as a stub nib. The nib is a flat plain where it meets the page and it allows the writer to write thin and thick lines as he writes. It adds character to your handwriting with a little extra practice.
Flex – These are nibs allow their tines to widen when a small amount of pressure is applied to the nib. As the writer presses, a much wider line results.
Ink Me, Baby
Besides choosing a nib, there are around 600 different inks to choose from on the market. Some inks have unique colors, others shade between two or three colors, still others have a special shimmer that is known as “sheen”. Some inks are permanent and will last for hundreds of years without fading, others last in the sun for only a few weeks. There are even “invisible” inks that you need a UV light to see on the page. All the different brands of ink and their assortment of hues allows a writer to develop a certain look to their writing. It can make your notes distinctive unto themselves.
For me, discovering the fountain pen has aided my skills as a writer. I now create all my brainstorming notes, character sketches, and plot outlines on paper with a fountain pen. What I write never moves on the page, as it would on my computer screen, and it gives my ideas a more solid presence in my mind. For the actual writing of the drafts and editing, I move to the computer, but with far better results than I had in the past. One extra benefit to this new method is that my handwriting skills have returned with practice. I can write legible cursive and my printing is small and neat. Due to this, I’ve been gradually moving to smaller nib sizes so I can fill my pages with more notes.
Writing with a fountain pen is sheer joy. If you have not tried it for yourself, I recommending buying an inexpensive starter fountain pen. See how it might improve your own writing process.
14 thoughts on “Fountain Pens For Writing”
I have a fountain pen! And it IS great!!
What type of fountain pen do you have, ubenmaat?
Great piece! I just got my first FP, a TWSBI 580AL, and find myself in many of the same situations you were when starting out. It’s good to know I’m not abby-normal.
BTW, I thought I would only use my FP for journaling/writing. It’s been two weeks and I find myself using it for EVERYTHING!
Cheers ~ Jack
I’m glad to hear from you, Jack. 🙂 Sounds like you are bitten by the FP bug. What nib size is your favorite so far?
I only have two pens, both medium, but very different sized mediums. (UGH!) I think I need a (F) for legibility when long stretches are the case. That said, I am determined to add some calligraphy or fancy cursive to my repertoire. I am creative but not artistically-inclined, if you know what I mean, It’s the aforementioned or nothing! 😉
What about you, Peggy-Sue? Fave nib/marca?
I mainly use Japanese medium calligraphy nibs. They are around .9mm wide and suit my handwriting well. For note taking on the fly, I have a japanese fine nib loaded with Stipula Ebony Black ink. It works great in my notebooks. I used to be partial to a plain medium nib and still have a pair of pens in that size that I keep inked up, but I’m finding that I love the finer nib sizes more these days. It allows me to scribble more letters into my notebooks. 🙂
Yer KILLIN ME!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have no less than 3 Nakayas on my wish-list!!!!!!!!!!
I guess I should peruse through your blog more closely about notebooks. Size and paper and SO IMPORTANT! (NOT A JOKE….well, not 100%)
I like CF paper, but I just have a top wire-bound large notebook, which I like a lot, but lets face it, I am not lugging that thing around all the time.
I am sinking fast into this hobby and loving every minute of it! 😛
Cheers, WVC! ~ Jack
I don’t know if I’ve done a post about fountain pen friendly notebooks as yet. I’ve always meant to, but you know how it is. 🙂 You might want to look into Rhodia pads if you haven’t already. They use CF paper, but come in many sizes, some of which are great for the pocket or purse.
Oh, I did not know that. Learn something new everyday!
Cheers ~ Jack
Would you mind I repost this passage to my online forum?(bbs.penmanzone.com)
As long as you credit me as the author and give a link back to my blog, that would be fine by me. Looks like a nice penmanship forum you have there. 🙂