Why I Write With a Fountain Pen
I started keeping a journal when I was about 19 or 20 years old. I'm going to be 30 this year so that makes it about a decade of journaling. I write about all sorts of things going on in my life, painting ideas, discoveries, philosophies, sketches, painful moments, heartbreaks, poems, funny moments, and anything else that. It's a creative outlet for me and a way to remember and preserve what I've experienced.
But this post isn't about my journal, it's about what I use to write in my journal. A fountain pen. For years I searched for a smooth and flowing style of pen to journal with. I tried everything from ballpoints to gel writers to sharpie pens. For years, I used a Pilot G 2 - 07 pen, which seemed "good enough".
A few years ago, I started to do research about old types of pens. I'm not sure what prompted it, but it was probably just my fascination with tools and techniques of the past. It also seemed that old letters and documents had a certain flow and beauty to them. I ended up getting a cheap, red plastic fountain pen from Staples. I tried it out and it bled everywhere, including through the paper and became a mess. It wrote for a few lines and then would skip. The worst part was that the ink cartridges ran out very quickly. If this is how fountain pens are, then I would stick with the Pilot G 2.
Then for my birthday, my Mom got me a very nice Sheaffer Sagaris fountain pen with my name engraved on it from Fahrney's Pens. It was a complete surprise, but I had had such a bad experience with the cheap fountain pen that I wasn't sure if I'd like it. Well, the difference between the cheap pen and the Shaeffer (which costs about $100) was night and day. Like so many things in life, the quality is what matters.
The Sheaffer didn't bleed onto the paper or skip lines at all. It was very smooth and felt great in my hand. The other main difference is that the Sheaffer has a refillable converter to hold the ink. It really opened my eyes to this beautiful tool.
So what makes a fountain pen so nice to write with? It's hard to describe, but there is a flow to a fountain pen which makes it feel more like painting than writing. You can write faster and allow your thoughts to flow with the ink (this also comes in handy for sketching). I had to make a couple of adjustments with my journals in order to accommodate the fountain pen: I now journal in a Letts of London book that has fountain pen friendly paper. A fountain pen's ink will bleed right through most paper, including Moleskines. It may seem like a lot of hassle just to do some writing, but I can hardly write with any other pen now.
Like most tools, there's a learning curve to using fountain pens and there's some homework to do in order to get the most out of your pen. Some quick tips while I'm thinking about it: Look up how to properly clean your pen, don't take your fountain pen on a plane, store your fountain pen with the nib facing up to avoid ink collecting in the nib and if you're not going to use your pen for a while then flush the ink out.
The final thing I love most about fountain pens is that the nib of the pen becomes adapted to your unique way of writing. From what I've read, this has to do with the elasticity of the nib and the way it becomes polished as you write in your style. For that reason, you shouldn't share your fountain pen with anyone else. (That might be the only valid reason to ever be selfish with your tools).
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