Fountain Pens Are Physically Easier To Write With, Than Modern Pens

If you think with paper and write a lot, consider using a fountain pen*. Modern pens strain your wrist and hand far more than fountain pens.

Fountain Pens vs Ballpoint Pens, Rollerball Pens, Gel Pens

Josh Giesbrecht, in his Atlantic article “How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive,” wrote about why he switched to fountain pens:

A lifetime writing with the ballpoint and minor variations on the concept (gel pens, rollerballs) left me unprepared for how completely different a fountain pen would feel. Its thin ink immediately leaves a mark on paper with even the slightest, pressure-free touch to the surface. My writing suddenly grew extra lines, appearing between what used to be separate pen strokes. My hand, trained by the ballpoint, expected that lessening the pressure from the pen was enough to stop writing, but I found I had to lift it clear off the paper entirely. Once I started to adjust to this change, however, it felt like a godsend; a less-firm press on the page also meant less strain on my hand. (…) My experience with fountain pens suggests a new answer. Perhaps it’s not digital technology that hindered my handwriting, but the technology that I was holding as I put pen to paper.

Like watches, fountain pens quickly morph from tools into (desk) jewelry or collector’s items.

Therefore, like watches, you can pay as much as you are willing to pay for a fountain pen… but they do not have to be expensive.

How to Try Out Fountain Pens and Fountain Pen Friendly Paper for Under $10

As of this writing, you can buy three Pilot Varsity (a.k.a. VPen) disposable fountain pens on Amazon for $7.99. I’ve seen single Pilot Varsity pens listed for $3.00.

Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens work reliably* * as writing tools. If you’ve never used a fountain pen, I think these are just dandy to experiment with. They are low cost, have plenty of ink, and you can test to see if you even enjoy writing with a fountain pen.

On the right paper, fountain pens flow. Your thoughts can flow with them. On the wrong paper, fountain pens scritch and scratch; the opposite of flow.

Look for paper with a smooth finish. To do this on a budget, go to your local discount store and buy a composition notebook made in Vietnam. In my neck of the woods, I find these for less than one dollar. Comp books made in Vietnam tend to have nicer paper.

You can also buy non-disposable fountain pens without paying a fortune.

Here is a beginner’s guide to using a fountain pen. Lots of other good videos and guides to fountain pens on the JetPens* * * site as well.


NOTES

* The big drawback? If anyone knows of a fountain pen and ink combo that works well for left-handed folks, let me know. (If you’re left-handed and you’re writing in a language that goes left to right (rather than, say, Hebrew), the ink smears. Lefties writing in English need quick-dry ink.)

* * Since I have loved fountain pens for coughty-cough years, I do have pens that are not disposable. But I still use Pilot Varsity pens for some things.

* * * I wish they paid me to promote them, but nope! I pay them… Anna’s Fun Money often wanders to jetpens.com.


REFERENCES

Giesbrecht, J. (2015) How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive, The Atlantic. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/08/ballpoint-pens-object-lesson-history-handwriting/402205/ (Accessed: 15 September 2022).

The Beginner’s Guide to Fountain Pens | JetPens (no date). Available at: https://www.jetpens.com/blog/The-Beginner-s-Guide-to-Fountain-Pens/pt/927 (Accessed: 23 September 2022).

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