8 Reasons Why You Should Write With a Fountain Pen
It’s no secret that I love fountain pens. They’re my preferred writing instrument of choice, and not without good reason. Check out the eight reasons below on what I think the best benefits are of using a fountain pen. If you’re already a fountain pen enthusiast, share the list to help convert your friends!
Update: Here’s my Top 7 Beginner Fountain Pens Under $25 article too!
1. Smoother Writing Experience
Fountain pens are capable of being some of the smoothest writing instruments out there. There are few other pen-to-paper experiences that are like a fountain pen. It’s hard to explain until you try it, jump in with a starter fountain pen and some nice paper and never look back. The Pilot Metropolitan makes a great entry into the fountain pen world for around $15.
Well, technically there are a few limits, but there are way more fountain pen ink colors available than your standard ballpoint or gel pen. There are many brands of ink out there and they all have different properties. Smoothness, saturation, shading, water resistance and permanence all vary across brands. There’s a color for every writing situation! Check out my guide on the 5 Best Inks for Everyday Use for some solid suggestions.
Whether it’s ultra modern and futuristic looking, or an actual vintage pen from 50 years ago – there are tons of style options for everyone out there. Maybe you like the Bauhaus-inspired Lamy 2000 (like me), or a Vintage Parker Vacumatic. Thousands of color options, body materials, nib designs and filling systems mean that there is something out there to suit many different design preferences.
Quit throwing away plastic pens when they run out of ink. According to the EPA, Americans throw away 1.6 billion disposable pens every year. Society is obsessed with convenience, which unfortunately goes hand-in-hand with disposable items. The pen on the left gets thrown out when it’s done, the pen on the right is from the 1950’s and still works as well as it did on day one. Invest in a fountain pen (it can be as little as $15!) and use a pen you can enjoy for years to come. Stop contributing to the landfill and write with something you’ll be proud to own and maintain.
Unlike the skinny, plasticky ballpoint pens most commonly used in an office, fountain pens are made to feel great in the hand. Contoured grip sections (where you hold the pen) and more substantial weight result in a more comfortable writing experience. Again, there are so many options that you are bound to find something you like. The Visconti Homo Sapiens shown above is made out of real lava rock, making for a unique feel.
While writing with a fountain pen doesn’t automatically up your penmanship, it can help! When learning how to properly write with a fountain pen, it helps to slow down. This decrease in speed can indirectly force you to take your time when writing out each letter. Have messy handwriting and want to improve it? Nothing like a fancy new pen to help motivate you. Using a fountain pen is an excuse to pick up some nice paper as well.
Maybe it’s the inner pen geek speaking, but I find it fascinating that there are several parts and either a steel or gold piece of pointed metal that deliver ink to page. Capillary action draws ink from the internal reservoir through a feed to regulate the flow, all the way to the tip of the pen. When writing with a fountain pen, very little pressure (if any) is needed. Different pens have different filling systems and clear pens (called “demonstrators”) let you see all the inner workings. Tell me that isn’t more interesting than your standard ballpoint?!
Granted, you don’t have to go all-in to enjoy using a fountain pen. It’s fun to have something that needs a little bit of maintenance. Take pride in your pen collection by making sure everything is clean. There are plenty of local pen meet ups and there are a dozen or so pen shows across the country. You can take the hobby as far as you want it to go. Everyone I’ve met through the pen world have been incredibly friendly and generous people.
Want to get started? I’ve put together three great starter packs at several affordable price points.
I hope I’ve made a few good points as to why you should write with a fountain pen! If you already use a fountain pen, what is your reasoning? If you don’t, what’s holding you back? Let me know in the comments below!
81 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why You Should Write With a Fountain Pen”
I use a fountain pen as it helps me slow down and take some time to consider what I’m committing to paper. I also enjoy the wide variety of ink colors and different nib sizes when I want to change things!
Ed, In the last photo, what is the notebook cover you are using? It really looks good
It’s this one! http://www.nanamipaper.com/products/mf-faux-leather-a5-notebook-cover.html
I am not sure the argument that there ends up being less waste actually quite works. I only say this because you can never have just one and the fuel and packaging consumed to feed my fountain pen habit is probably not that great for the environment. Not that I let that stop me and I am waiting for a little parcel to arrive as we speak!
I would like to know the carbon footprint comparisons. It would be really nice to know that they actually are better for the environment and how it would impact the economy if all pens were non-disposable.
For me the top three would be 1) smoothness, 4) non-disposable and 7) cool factor.
So I bet with a little math and some metaphorical elbow grease we could come up with an answer to this. José Naranja did one of his gorgeous layouts on what an 80 ml bottle of Diamine equals in Bics or ink cartridges. https://www.instagram.com/p/_FMl6YIhgW/?taken-by=jose_naranja
Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dr. Jonathon Deans already had something on the carbon footprint of fountain pens. (http://www.peneconomics.com/)
Thank you, Ed, for the concise, well written, and persuasive post. If I wasn’t already rabidly in love with fountain pens, I would give them a try. I will forward this post on to family, friends, and co-workers to help spread the word.
Do you happen to know whether fountain pens are actually more popular now than they were 10 years ago, or so? Or maybe it only seems that way because of all the blogs and websites dedicated at least in part to fountain pens.
Thank you for reading!
I’m honestly not sure, I wasn’t into them that long ago so I can’t really gauge the market. I’m sure that the blogs and everything help bring them more to the forefront though!
Nice article! I was on the lookout for you at the Long Island Pen Show (you were on the Binder list with me), but I missed you.
What color Sheaffer do you have in this post? Is that peacock?
Ah, too bad! What did you have him do?
I’m not sure what the color is called actually, admittedly I haven’t gone too far into the deep end of Sheaffer collecting!
I always get blue fingers when I use a fountain pen. I suspect it’s because the fountain pens hate me.
I certainly hope not!
If my writing is an extension of my thoughts, I think they deserve a nice medium with which to manifest them in visual form. 🙂
Beautiful handwriting was encouraged at school and a fountain pen was the medium employed. Only in senior high were we permitted to use ball point pens. I still use that fountain pen, a Parker.
I love fountain pens. I even went so far as joining a penpal group so I would have the perfect excuse to use them more often when writing letters. I now have 8 or 9 pen pals around the world so I write several good, long letters every month with them. 🙂
Very good article and good points made. Yep, my handwriting isn’t the greatest and I thought maybe changing pens would help. Writing with a larger pen does tend to slow my writing down, making it a little more deliberate, and a little more legible.
I love fountain pen design and my wife is a conniseur but alas, I’m left-handed and so cannot use them.
My octogenarian father is a southpaw and has been writing with a fountain pen for nearly his entire life. As he explained it to me, the trick is to tilt the paper to the right so that you don’t have to “hook around,” but rather can keep your hand below the line you’re writing, the same way right-handed people do.
@PGB You can use them as a lefty–you just need to develop some tricks. I do a few different things depending on with which pen I am writing. Using a standard nib (fine, medium, etc.), I tend to fall into my habit of overhand writing. In this case, I brace my hand by holding my pinkie way out, like a proper Englishman would while drinking tea. Fast-drying ink is still recommended. When I use a stub nib (1.1mm, 1.5, etc.)–my favorite, BTW–I hold the pen like the righthanders typically learned, and my hand stays under the line. I’ve had to work at it, but I find that stub nibs don’t allow me to use a different grip, so it is self-reinforcing.
Reblogged this on expressionallyme and commented:
Oh yea! I agree 100% with everything in this article!
Hey Ed! Great article. We shared it on our Facebook page! -Margaret
Thank you so much! Bunch of traffic from there!
#9 really should be added: Less stress, less fatigue. When you write with a ballpoint your hand gets tired quickly. This is because you have to press the pen into the paper, which in turn means you have to grip the pen harder. You hold a fountain pen more lightly, and you only need to touch the nib to the page. Many find they can write for hours–instead of 5 minutes–before fatigue sets in.
I agree – #9 is needed as stated. Less stress and less fatigue. Back in my newspaper days, I wrote my notes, most articles, and EVERY editorial longhand first – there’s just something about hand-applied ink on a page – and found the even a dipping pen is better than a ball-point in reducing fatigue and, somewhat curiously, improving the thought process. I am absolutely thrilled to see so many reasonably-priced pens on the market these days. Even introduced my teenager to the joys of the fountain pen – he’s hooked, too.
The “Cool Factor” is great, too.
This is a great article. I like drafting text by hand, then typing up on a computer as a kind of revision. I like the smoothness of writing with a fountain pen. Some gel inks can mirror it, but they involve lots of plastic waste, even with a refill. So many disposable pens not only are so disposable but write poorly as to not write at all. I’m looking at you most BIC pens.
Hi Ed — what’s that light blue pen in the picture above point #4?
It’s a Sheaffer Snorkel
Hi Ed, what’s the light blue pen in the picture about point #4?
Excellent reasons all, and of course all the cool kids have ink-stained hands these days!
I completely agree. I use a Fountain Pen as my everyday writer. Currently using a Visconti Rembrandt in this fantastic orange! The only problem I had with fountain pens is that I got too addicted to them. I now currently own about 30 of them!
That’s really the only problem…having too many.
There is no such thing as too many fountain pens!
Hey please could you let me know the name of the pen with which it is written ‘write neater!’. Thanks
That’s a Pelikan M805 Stresemann!
Love this article. I recently started using a Pilot Varsity, but have since “graduated” to a Platinum Preppy, which is infinitely more enjoyable. I’m thinking about a leap to a Lamy Safari or other “starter” pen, and am intrigued by the idea of a demonstrator pen. Thanks for such great, straightforward information!
Thanks for reading! If you want both a demonstrator and a Safari, check out the Vista! It’s the best of both worlds.
I’ll check it out. Thanks for the guidance.
Many nice pens for sale. Look up the Dollar 717i For around $19 US on Ebay,
For Ed : a point you missed,,, With a fountain pen you always have that same nib that you bought. A ballpoint or rollerball is only as good as the last refill. So a $400 Montblanc ballpoint could write lousy with a $3.25 refill. Any color or brand ink in a fountain pen writes just as smooth.
Even a Pilot Varsity disposable FP. Pull out the nib, refill, reuse, repeat,
For a cheap pen they have nice nibs.
I had no idea that there could be so many benefits to using a fountain pen. You’re right, there is a cool factor that comes along with them. If they can help me write neater, too, then maybe it’s time for me to get one!
The reason I use a fountain pen(s) is because I don’t know any better. My Dad introduced me when I was 7 and, apart from short periods working as a waitress in my 20’s when anything that wrote was lost or borrowed and never returned, I’ve never used anything else.
What are the 5th 6th and 7th pens in number 3? Great article btw I have never used a fountain pen and now I am getting one for Christmas… Now I just gotta figure out the best nibs, ink, and how to refill them…. I am a pen freak especially for Uni-Ball pens, and Gel pens, but if fountain pens are smoother than my teachers have another thing coming….
I am also a pen freak. I am very interested in acquiring my first fountain pen. I noticed more people are using fountain pens as when I saw my doctor yesterday, I actually was looking in her hand a fountain pen, it was very unique, not sure of the brand. As I read your article I very much looking forward to getting my first fountain pen. I do have a few Mont Blanc pens and a mechanical pencil. Gave away a vintage mont Blanc to a older friend, who is also a pen lover, but I don’t think he has a fountain pen in his collection. Latest pen I have acquired is the mont Blanc star walker and the Monteverde Limonada. But overall, looking forward to getting my very first fountain pen, and it looks like it will be the Lamy 2000 SS.
I think that a some of the increased neatness with a fountain pen comes from not having to mash it into the paper to get a line out of it. If you’re not fighting to form each letter, you’re bound to have better-looking writing, even at speed.
can’t agree more.
After visiting a friend who showed me her vast collection of fountain pens, I’ve decided to purchase a couple myself. I’ve not used a fountain pen since school, but it was nice to hold one again.
I really enjoyed reading your list of 8 reasons. I agree with it all! Although the carbon imprint as far as manufacturing, delivery repercussions, etc.may still be an issue, the sheer amount of waste savings for the environment is astronomical! We still have to manufacture and deliver our goods, it’s what is done after that makes the difference.
To add a few reasons of my own…
1) The nuns in my school (I attended Catholic school in Brooklyn, N.Y. from 1967 to 1976!) would beat the desire for using a ball point pen from your hands! Literally! So a fountain pen is therefore a “comfort item”! Seriously, they did do that, but it slowed you down and taught you to write better.
2) Teaches you responsibility as a child and an adult!. You have to take care of and maintain your fountain pen, not toss it when it gives you trouble or runs out, like a ballpoint pen or refill.
3) Pride of ownership…nuff said!
4) Show and tell factor…. Even though there are many people out there that use our favourite writing instrument of choice, it is not commonplace for ballpoint pen users to see someone using a fountain pen on a daily basis.It’s even more of a rarity to see an aficionado using it outside of their home. Think about it. I’ll bet a large percentage of fountain pen users use their beautiful instruments only at home or maybe at the office!
5) Inspiration…. Using such an object of reverence on a constant basis gives rise to creativity, as each letter becomes an artform. This creative slowing down causes the mind to wander subconsciously, effecting the use of more beautiful and appropriate words, that otherwise would have been something less…. jotted down in a rush….
One of my fondest hobbies is custom carving leather. Slowing down things a bit always helps to inspire my creative mind to imagine new and beautiful ideas! Yes, that is a nice leather journal, but to me it’s a really nice blank piece of paper to add a mark of beauty to!
6) Love notes look better and are appreciated more from a fountain pen, calligraphy pen, or even a well cut quill! (Also…re-read the whole creativity inspirational thing above!)
PS All of you have one of these pens….don’t you think it’s time you slowed down, took out a leaf of really nice paper or parchment and wrote a beautiful letter or poem to loved one…in your favourite color ink? (Roll it carefully (remember to let it dry!) and tie it with something classy… Maybe present it on a tray of rose petals in a tux or a nice black dress? 🙂 If you do this, you’ll thank me later!) My girlfriend loves this idea! And I love to do it…right from the first drop out of that beautifully hued bottle of ink, to watching the first tear of happiness roll down a beloved ones.smiling face! (And maybe feeling your own tears too! Nice huh!?)
7) Yes my friends…. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword! Could you imagine holding up a ballpoint pen and declaring that? A fountain pen exudes imagination, nostalgia and romance just by looking at one!
8) Ah my eighth! I leave this to you… Pick up your pen and be inspired, as the author and all who answered inspired me to type this reply…
It’s been a awhile since I’ve used a fountain pen on a daily basis….and I’ve used calligraphy pens on special occasions….so I just ordered a Waterman Carene in black lacquer with palladium over 18k gold nib and trim. Absolutely beautiful instrument! I know Waterman says yacht…I say Black Auburn Boattail Speedster! I hope it’s everything I believe it to be…
Thanks for listening! I hope I have inspired you in some small way!