Best Pens for Long Writing Sessions
There are many different ways and places to write, and many different ways to put words on the page, but using one of these best writing pens may be the most enjoyable method of all for writing and
Why write by hand when you can type
Perhaps it is hard to define, but writing with a pen appeals to the tactile senses. Using the smoothest pen, thoughts flow from our minds, through the ink in the pen, and onto the page of your writing notebook.
Want to know the best part?
Seeing a handwritten page filled with our own words makes our thoughts and emotions real. A good pen won’t write the words for you, but it can inspire you to write in the first place.
In our hurried world, writing with a pen also offers an opportunity to slow down and actually think. We can compose our deepest ideas at an unhurried pace.
Writing by hand prompts a kind of craftsmanship that we may not feel when dashing off emails on our keyboard.
Don’t take just my word for it:
“Paper absorbs our emotions,” notes pen maven Vivien Schubert. “Those of the writer and those of the recipient.”
Fortunately, there is no need to rely on a quick and ink pot, or on whittling pencils with a pocketknife like Ernest Hemingway used to do as part of his morning writing ritual.
Read on to explore different pens from ball point to roller ball and how they may best suit your writing style.
Consider that a good pen is also a thing of beauty that makes writing a pleasure. A good pen is like an old friend. In some of these best pens for writing, there is even a craftsmanship to the pen itself.
Several years ago at a craft festival, I had the luck to buy a pen handmade out of wood salvaged from a shipping pallet made from scraps of sapele, a kind of mahogany from the Congo.
The pen is quite lovely and a joy to admire because of the way that the light catches the deeply oiled wood, but it’s not very well-balanced for the actual task of writing.
Everyday writing is about comfort.
Here are some choices:
For daily writing, I am very fond of the Pilot Dr. Grip pen. I have tried many pens through the years but have found this one to be the most comfortable. In fact, it’s one of the best ballpoint pens or best gel pens that you can find on the market. I once wrote an entire novel by hand on legal pads using one of these pens.
What is the smoothest pen?
To answer this question, keep in mind:
For me, it is the somewhat large, squishy grip of the pen and the natural balance that is so appealing. I’ve bought several and have them stashed in various writing locations throughout the house and in my laptop bag so that I never have to go hunting far for a pen when inspiration strikes.
The writing muse can be fleeting, after all, and she won’t wait around for you to locate a pen and notebook.
The lesson here may be to keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer, and keep your pen within reach.
My ugly, hirsute, bald muse reminds me that it’s work, gritty, demanding work, not the pretty, poetic images of writing that must drive me.”Faith Hunter
A quick history of the ballpoint pen
This is quite a story:
Before WWII, writers really only had the choice of using a pencil or a fountain pen. According to Smithsonian magazine, it was Jewish-Hungarian journalist László Bíro who invented the humble ballpoint pen.
As a journalist who took a lot of notes, he found that neither a pencil nor a fountain pen was ideal.
What was the solution?
Bíro noticed that printer’s ink used to churn out newspapers on printing presses dried much faster than the ink from fountain pens. He managed to develop a system that delivered the ink to the page using a tiny ball in the tip of the pen, allowing just the right amount of ink to coat the ball, and thus, the page.
Which is better ballpoint or gel pen?
There are several considerations when choosing your favorite writing pen.
• First of all, what are the actual differences between, say, a gel pen or
By using a high-quality pen, today’s technology means that you will get a good result no matter what kind of pen you choose. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between a gel pen,
If you are interested in writing with a feather quill and ink well just like Miguel de Cervantes composing Don Quixote, then good luck to you!
It’s interesting that there are some technical differences between the ink in these pens that result in their different writing experiences.
What are these differences, you might ask?
Isn’t a pen a pen, and isn’t ink just ink?
The answer is a bit more complex.
Gel pens use what is actually a pigment that is suspended in a water-based or polymer-based gel. Thus, gel pens can create words on the page that are both rich and crisp. Also, the way that the pigment is suspended allows for the use of vivid colors.
A rollerball pen uses a more liquid form of ink that is a close cousin to the ink found in a fountain pen, but the pen’s mechanism allows for a smooth and even flow of ink.
Ballpoint pens have been in use much longer and use a kind of paste ink that flows around the tiny ball in the nib of the pen. Ballpoint pens can really seem to flow over the paper, which is a bonus if you are a fast writer or when the ideas are coming quickly.
Wait, what’s that smell?
Ballpoint pen inks often use a bit of alcohol as a solvent in the ink, and you may have noticed the slight smell of alcohol after dashing off a few sentences. This is further proof that words can be intoxicating!
Fountain pens either use a cartridge filled with liquid ink or the pen itself is refilled with ink. These pens are for the true writing aficionado in that it takes some skill to write fluidly with a fountain pen. For those who enjoy writing with real flourish, but not necessarily with speed, the fountain pen may be for you.
And one more to consider …
It’s not a pen, but a mechanical pencil. This writing implement uses a replaceable pencil lead. The pencil is a great choice for anyone who prefers the option of being able to erase what they have written. A pencil also remains a favorite for jotting notes in margins and underlining passages in books.
Pen vs. pencil:
An ink pen tends to be the writer’s choice. By and large, a pencil is the editor’s writing implement of choice.
A pencil can be enormously enjoyable to use for writing on quality notebook paper. You can buy a cheap mechanical pencil suitable for junior’s algebra problems or a beautiful mechanical pencil that can become a family heirloom.
Choosing the right pen for you
There’s a simple acronym I developed to help you choose the right pen. It’s called the PEN method.
What is it?
P—Personal taste. Fancy, plain, metal, wood. What strikes your fancy?
E—Evaluate your needs. How will this pen be used?
N—Nib. How the ink is delivered to the page in many ways is the number one factor in choosing your best writing pen.
Now explore your options. (Everyone’s favorite part of choosing a new pen.)
Let’s break this down:
An important question is to know how and where you will use this pen. Is the pen for everyday use or for a special occasion? We all have our everyday pens like that trusty Dr. Grip, but consider purchasing a unique pen that suits a special occasion such as a book signing.
Using a really nice pen to sign a book also makes a statement that this book is special and that you appreciate the fact that this reader bought your book. Somehow, a really special pen gives a signature—or any writing, really—extra value and meaning.
• What materials do you prefer in a pen? Again, this choice of
• Thick or thin? There are pens thin as a dart and pens stubby as a cigar. Smaller hands may appreciate smaller pens, naturally. Older hands may appreciate the solid grasp of a hefty pen.
• Click, twist or
Will the pen be a gift?
• Don’t forget that a pen is
These milestones could include:
• A new graduate.
• A new retiree who going to spend more time writing.
• An old friend starting a new career or business.
• The person who already seems to have everything. There is always room for the perfect pen!
What’s the most important thing to remember about giving a pen as a gift?
When giving a pen as a gift, you generally want to make a statement and the pen should have some wow factor such as a presentation box.
The best gifted pens are those that the person would not necessarily buy for themselves. It is a splurge, and a memorable one at that. A pen given out of fondness for a person creates a positive energy whenever they put words to paper.
Don’t forget Numero Uno:
Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong at all about giving yourself the gift of a new pen! Your new pen can be a wonderful motivator to get busy writing. A pen can also mark a special occasion, such as the release of a new book or publication of an article or essay. Make a new pen your reward!
Finally, a good pen for writing is also a very individualized choice. Here, I have shared a few of my current favorites, ranging from the affordable Dr. Grip to some very special pens that may be more appropriate for giving as gifts or for special occasions.
There are also those who swear by fountain pens, which are truly beautiful writing pens, particularly if you are writing a Samurai novel set in 19th century Japan or perhaps a Regency romance.
A few more thoughts:
It’s been said that the pen is mightier than the sword. In the literal sense, no one ever took on a sword-wielding Samurai when armed with only a fountain pen and lived to tell the tale. But rest assured that when using one of these fine writing implements, your words on the page will be mighty indeed!
Let’s take a look at some of the Writerly Sage’s top picks for writing pens.