Does It Hurt To Write? Get a Fountain Pen!10/19/2012
If you experience hand or wrist pain, a fountain pen could make your life easier. There is no need to press down even slightly when the pen, ink, paper combination is in harmony. That reduces stress and drag making it possible to write longer and more enjoyably. But which products will produce this writing experience?
Inks that flow well or do a good job at lubricating the nib can make a huge difference. Even so there is a need to match the ink to the nib to keep lines neat. Does that sound complex? Tackle the pen first. That may be all you need to improve your writing experience. Find one that glides smoothly but not so much that it gets away from you. If possible, test a pen before you purchase it. Pen shows offer a huge variety with knowledgeable vendors to guide you. Many pen shops are accommodating but make sure the salesperson understands what you want. If you wind up with a stinker that cannot be returned, work with a professional to get the nib adjusted. If all else fails, sell or trade for a more suitable pen. What doesn’t work for you might well be the perfect pen for someone else.
If you want to experiment, an economical option would be to buy a single Lamy Safari and try a variety of their replacement nibs. The wide range from EF to 1.9mm is fun to explore and eventually you will find a sweet spot. For me it’s the 1.1mm though it did require some practice to become a favorite. Be sure to purchase a converter so you can easily try any ink. Cartridges can be used but need a syringe to fill them. The Kaweco Classic works only with carts but they do offer many nib sizes. It has a more traditional grip than the Safari that will suit some of you better.
Once you have a pen that makes writing enjoyable, experiment with a variety of inks. Over the summer my rotation was quite limited and revealed some standouts that improve nib performance including Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Ottoman Azure, and Eel Blue, Diamine Mediterranean Blue and Violet, and Iroshizuku ku-jaku. Many inks improve nib performance like Private Reserve Tanzanite so don’t feel limited.
Paper is the last thing I choose since most of what I have on hand is fountain pen friendly. Reducing drag is helpful so I go for very smooth paper preferably lined. Most anything from Clairefontaine and Rhodia will do. Much of what comes from Japan is good and my Staples Brazilian filler paper is working out nicely as well. Note that very smooth paper may slow drying time with some inks. Again, it will take experimentation to find the perfect match.
Of course, there is an exception. My daily journal is an Apica 6A10 that isn’t super smooth but rather a tad absorbent. It has a “soft” surface that cushions the nib and for me that works extremely well. It isn’t for everyone and the occasional sheet of paper will resist certain pens and inks. I can live with that in my journal since the writing rarely gets read. The size and form factor suit me perfectly so I’ll stick with the Apica but with reservations for anyone else.
Good quality paper helps but is less essential. Besides sometimes you just have to write on junk paper and grin and bear it. That’s a whole lot easier when the pen in your hand already makes you happy.