Fountain Pens, Hand Fatigue and Long Sessions


Complementing the strategy of using a light touch, changing pens from time to time is my second line of defense against hand fatigue. Extreme weight differences can be jarring but even more unsettling is switching from a pen that requires no effort to one that needs a bit of push to get the job done. Creative spontaneity may be fun but sometimes planning is in order for long sessions.

Sorting pens for weight and effort is senior but matching pens to frame of mind is helpful, too. Wider nibs tend to take the punishment of more emotional passages. Narrow nibs are well matched to casual musings. Flexible nibs require the most attention to avoid damaging the nib and to achieve attractive, delicate lines that connect to bold swathes. They work best when writing slowly doesn’t cut my rate of expression.

So that makes three criteria: weight, effort, and type of writing. Still when I just want to write, the right tool counts more.

Some pens are suited to all sorts of situations. A Levenger True Writer Masuyama Stub and a 1950’s Parker ’51’ Aero Fine are getting the most use these days. Also at hand are a couple of True Writer fountain pens. Their fine, round, steel nibs are most forgiving and do not berate me for excessive use of force. Lastly come the specialty nibs that add some flair to my penmanship. They are like stilettos, stylish but not for everyday use.

The real standout just might be the 1970’s Montblanc 220 Oblique Broad that at the perfect angle is the smoothest nib I’ve ever used. At the wrong angle it is sharp and drags against the paper. But it is very light weight and has a matte finish that makes it easy to grip. So it isn’t my favorite for long sessions but it does provide a bit of joy when I can write more slowly.

Do you suit pens to tasks or favor one over another for long writing sessions? What are your criteria? Not that I need enabling but trading for another all-purpose fountain pen might be worth considering. What would you suggest?



  1. And I thought my similar pen switching was my deep dark secret! Nice to know I’m not alone in switching! A buttery Parker, a long nibbed Pelikan, a flex nib. I lose interest and switch and switch. Often after only a few days use.

    The caution is to always flush the pens when they have been neglected for a week or two. It’s irritating to have a goto pen that has dried out.



    • Isn’t it a great way to ease or even prevent fatigue? If each pen has a different colored ink, that just adds to the fun of using a fountain pen but it can make my correspondence look silly. Hopefully, my friends don’t mind the color clutter. 😉


  2. My standard pens are a colorful collection of Pelikan Futuras, and I spice it up with some Safari broad obliques and even some Schaeffer Calligraphys.
    Brighter inks are easier to read later.


  3. An Esterbrook with a 2968 nib. Could write for hours with this one.


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