What EXACTLY is it with pens?

I love this site. I thought, for many years, that I was the strange one. Bad Day, Bad Mood, Feeling Low, Diet not working......I would head for Paperchase (UK) and simply browse/buy a couple of pens. (I work in University Admin so some justification but even so....) Suddenly my step was lighter and the mood was one of sunshine.

But for the life of me I cannot work out WHY?

Any ideas folks? What exactly is it about pens? Cars, Jewellery I can see but pens? Let's hear your thoughts?

And keep up the great site, forums, comments and ideas.

Happy Thoughts to all.


Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

My $0.02

I think writing with a good pen is a sensuous experience. The feel of it in your hand, the way it moves across paper... Also, a new pen is full of potential. It contains so many possibilities for capturing ideas, reflecting emotions, setting goals...

[ web site ]

Pens all the way.

Fountain pens are my weakness, my poison.
Mark Goody

I have a blog.
And various lots of photos.


I have always turned to pens for comfort... strange but not so uncommon. I think it is the fact that a change in writing utensil can reflect or even trigger a change in mood. Lets say I was having a really bad week and everything seemed to be too serious... buying a pen with a nice comfy grip and maybe a lighter ink color could and did lighten my outlook on the day. Perhaps it was just the newness ... but I doubt that. I change pens often throughout the week depending on my mood.
I know there has been studies done about room color on mood... i wonder if anyone has studied a pen's effect on mood. :)

my artwork | my blog

pens and mood

Whew. Thanks goodness I'm not alone. A nice shade of ink, or a fresh fiber point and I'm cheery.

certified creativity coach


or grape, or strawberry-kiwi

Whatever flavor you like.
So many wonderful inks to choose from.

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

You indulged

I think it could be that simple.
When you are in a "funk", do something nice for yourself to relieve it. In this case, it was indulging in some new writing instruments.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

My thoughts

Why pens you ask. As one other said, Fountain Pens are my poison as well. Sure you can be the type of person that grabs any old bic ballpoint "cringe" and not give a hoot whether or not your writing looks nice or if you even enjoy the experience. Pens to me are something to be enjoyed, something to express yourself. Call me crazy or a loon, but I really enjoy writing anything. I enjoy coming to work to be with my pens.

Not to mention people don't seem today to take the time to make sure what they are writing looks nice I think. They seem to forget that what they write is an important part of communication. I like to think (and I've yet actually hear anyone say it) that people enjoy getting a note from me a little bit more than the next person, because it's extremely legible and usually in a different color than the drab black and blue. (Usually a dark dark green)

I guess to sum it up, what would you rather get as a note, something written with a splotchy blue bic ballpoint scribbled unreadable on crappy paper. Or would you take a bit of joy getting something from someone written on a thicker piece of nice paper with legible nice neat handwriting.

I'm the same way, I can be as mad as i can be, but spend a little time looking at pens, paper and ink and I'm pretty relaxed. Even better taking the pens, ink and paper I have and create something!

My favorite "classic" fountain ink color

I like to be different as well. I like the sepia brown or tabacco type of inks. It feels old-fashioned and elegant. I also love the deep burgundys. However, I am not against the wild colors levenger sells... every color has it's place! The more the better!

"I guess to sum it up, what

"I guess to sum it up, what would you rather get as a note, something written with a splotchy blue bic ballpoint scribbled unreadable on crappy paper. Or would you take a bit of joy getting something from someone written on a thicker piece of nice paper with legible nice neat handwriting."

To illustrate the power of using nice paper and pen I will give an example. Twice in the past year my 13yo daughter had to write thank you notes to our church vestry for awarding scholarships to her for various music training programs. The first note she typed on the computer, printed, signed her name, and stuck in a plain white business envelope to turn in. The second one she used her brand new personalized heavy weight Crane stationery with a color coordinated fine point marker. The week after she turned in the second thank you note I heard three comments back from vestry members about what a thoughtful child she was and what a beautiful note she wrote. I heard nothing about the first one. The personalized touch with quality materials does make a difference.

My husband iwshes HE knew as well!

I agree. Writing is a sensuous experience. I love to look at pens, take them apart and clean them, fill them, write with them, compare them, be seen with them. Who knows. Since I was very small, my mom said I would be happy for hours with a pencil and paper. I am not even the less graphically talented but I love to feel the pen across the paper. It has to feel"right". The feel of the pen has to be balanced in your hand and where do I stop with aesthetics? Interesting questions and a wonderful habit. I just feel connected to things that matter with a fountain pen.

"To fly, we must have resistance."

I totally agree...

maybe this won't sound odd to you... if a pen is supposed to have a cap, I have to have the cap or it simply feels off-balance and i hate writing with it. lol



I don't have a problem using a click pen or mechanical pencil, but if a lid is missing on a pen, I can't stand to write with it. I've even spent time alternating between a short no. 2 pencil and a capless pen. Even long pens without caps feel funny.

I'm so relieved...


"I've even spent time

"I've even spent time alternating between a short no. 2 pencil and a capless pen."

I meant to say I've alternated between the two to try and figure out why I can write so easily with a short pencil, but not with a capless pen...


:: shudders at the mere

:: shudders at the mere thought of capless pens ::

I understand pens more than jewelry

I understand a nice pen as a self-reward. Less fattening than chocolate. Safer than "belting" a few. Jewelry I never could understand, what do you do with that? Put it in a drawer mostly. But a pen -- it is not only a pleasure to the eye but a useful implement, pregnant with potential.

There are worse vices.

The Passionate Pilgrim
-- Excellence through Simplicity

I thought I should be in therapy....

I have, for as long as I can remember, consoled myself, rewarded myself, or whatever, with pens and lipstick. I love every kind of pen... they can be judged for the way they write, the way they look, where they came from, etc. I have the sparkly metallic ones for fun, the serious fine-point business ones, the cheap ones that write well (again, finepoint) in case someone asks to borrow a pen. My all-time faves are fountain pens though. I love the way they feel, I love the way they look. They inspire me to write. And the choices in ink colors? incredible! I refuse to share them, and I'm a sucker for them. I once held a pen with diamonds in the cap - I think it was $7000 or so. It was the highlight of my trip to NYC. When I discovered the pen stores in NYC then found out there was one in the mall an hour from me.... what a happy day. The day I discovered Levenger - very happy as well!

And don't even get me started on paper, notebooks, journals, etc.... I'm a total geek, but when it comes to writing, I do it best when I have a beautiful fountain pen, heavy but smooth paper in a leather journal, a cozy throw and a big, comfy chair. My poor husband is left-handed and can't use my fountain pens. Such a shame that I can't share... :-)

So happy to meet others who consider a pen obsession normal....



I'm left-handed, and I'm a fountain pen junkie. I suppose it all depends on the way one holds one's hand while writing...

[ blog | photos ]


He tends to drag his hand across the page, smearing the ink. He's a neat freak (I don't possess that problem! lol) so it really bothers him to have a hand full of ink. He also can't seem to find a comfortable angle to write properly with. Luckily, he still is supportive of my habit and I never have to hunt in his office for my pens unless I was sitting there! He's going to build me one of those gorgeous pen cases for my office, but first I have to decide how many I want it to hold... how hard is that!??!

Oh well.

More pens for you, then. :)

I haven't hit the point where I need a display case yet. I have less than a dozen pens, and they all travel with me in my bag...

[ blog | photos ]

I am a leftie, too. I am

I am a leftie, too. I am definitely a fountain pen junkie, too.
I rarely drag my hand through wet ink.
Guess it really does make a difference how you hold the hand.

I am a notebook junkie.

One more leftie chiming in...

and I use a fountain pen but don't drag my hand through the ink. But then, I turn the paper clockwise about 45 degrees to write. Most other lefties I know have their hand twisted above the paper so they're actually writing with their hand kind of upside down from the right and it drags their arm across the ink. In my school, it depended on which penmanship teacher you had how you held your hand if you were a leftie. Some couldn't deal with it at all.

My technique

I write with my hand below the line I'm currently writing, with the paper exactly vertical. So my hand drags, but it does so below the line. Works pretty well for me.

[ blog | photos ]

For a leftie....

....I've probably got the weirdest and simultaneously stupidest handwriting style.

I tilt the paper about 30-45° to the left, and write with my hand right in line with the line of text I'm writing. Yes, it is _very_ easy to smear that way, but my second "trick" then is to hold the pen or pencil a bit higher, and also to stretch my hand as I write--worse, I will even (though I never really thought about it until I joined here) ;-), as I write, creep my fingers up the barrell of the pen, so as to stretch the extra distance--I tend to do this only on larger paper sizes (A4 or letter). One other thing I tend to do is hold my hand off the paper, make it hover. _That's_ uncomfortable, though, so I don't do it often, just for short bits. In any case, my handwriting style is probably why I'm a big fan of half-sheet size or smaller--never really thought about it before.

There are trade-offs with this method. If I am writing fairly narrow columns, I get much less hand-cramp that way (fountain pens help with this!--no pressure on the paper). However, the tendancy to get a dirty hand is quite great, and with ink, smearing. I tend to write a lot with pencil, so my hand gets quite dirty over time (I get lazy with pencil)


On the right track

I tilt the paper about 30-45° to the left, and write with my hand right in line with the line of text I'm writing.

I'm a rightie ... with dyslexia that manifests itself in poor fine motor control. My handwriting is unreadable --- even for me. However, by tilting the page to about the same angle as you do I find that the scrawl is neater and readable by other people. (I also hold books at the same sort of angle as that helps my reading.)

Design elegance

Why, indeed? What I've noticed is that the people who "get it" seem to appreciate good design in general, and even if pens aren't their "thing" they recognize the words you use to describe your appreciation. How comfortable it is in your hand, how reliable and durable it is, the quality of the craftsmanship, whatever it is that you appreciate about it.

I'm lucky that I come from a family of toolmakers and draftsmen, people who took their tools very seriously. It rubbed off on me.

For some people, a pen is just a tube that excretes ink out the other end (with apologies to Alan Watts). For others, a good pen is a marvel of efficient design and precision engineering, the result of a lot of thought and tinkering, created by people who believed that the act of writing was important enough to warrant creating a quality tool for the job. It imbues the pen with a sense of purpose, which makes me want to use it well.

(Steps down from pulpit) Well, at least for *me* that's why! :-D


Good point! (pun intended ;)

Good point! (pun intended ;) ) I think appreciation of tools has a lot to do with it. My dad has a favorite rollerball he has used since the early 70's. The aluminum barrel is no longer available and too dented to use anymore, so he uses the refills by themselves. He's an engineer and a carpenter, so proper tools and feel in the hand are critical to him.

I found a store in Palo Alto this weekend that still carries my favorite fine tipped felt pen, Le Pen, and practically wept with joy.


Le Pen

I haven't seen Le Pen in ages!

If that's your favorite, I understand your weeping for Joy.

I am a notebook junkie.


I remember Le Pens! I got one with my first Day Runner, about a million years ago! Yeah, they're wonderful. I just love fountain pens nowadays, be it my expensive Pelikans or Pilot Petits (the colors are great and they write well). I've just discovered Hi-Tec Cs, also, and have gotten some from jetpens.com, jstationary.com, and a new one, Tokyopenshop.com, which has a really neat Nomadic pencil case as well as the aforementioned gel pens.


Penis envy?



Well there is writing in the snow but.........:o

"Astronomers say the universe is finite, which is a comforting
thought for those people who can't remember where they leave things."

You started it...

A Real Man writes his name in the snow...

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)



Were you drinking something ?

Did it come out your nose ?

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Diet Cola


More Like

Pen-is envy.

Possible Achievements

Pens - and notebooks - give me the impression that I can and will accomplish great things with them, lots of work done, grand ideas, etc.

That's probably why I have so many of them. Not that many great achievements, though, but with the CircaRolla system I think I might be getting there. :)

A bend for pens

I too greatly appreciate a nice writing pen. I am "hooked" on a certain style of ballpoint right now with a nice grip and fatter style. The ink very smoothly crosses the page much to my delight. I really love the smooth flowing ink and DO NOT want to use or have in my possession one that is hard to write with. Add to this some nice paper and I find the combination just heavenly. I agree with Penguin about handwriting too. Is it becoming a lost art?


I don't know what it is but I get that same rush from a nice pen in hand.

I'm a writer....and I prefer

I'm a writer....and I prefer longhanding stuff out first, then typing it down. It takes longer, but the feeling of the story flowing from me down, onto paper, and being able to go back and read it later in the notebook is why I keep a journal.
So between journaling and writing short stories, I'm almost constantly with a pen in my hand, writing something, and having a good pen is important. At this very moment, I have a votive candle holder that is a pen cup on my desk, and an entire drawer devoted to writing instruments and small pads for lists and stuff. I have a full, unopened pack of Pilot VBall Extra Fine RT's, and two unused Uni-ball Visions, one Micro, one Fine, and tons of mechanical pencils.
I've recently gotten into fountain pens, though, and I absolutely LOVE using them. I have three bottles of ink on the way, and two pens.
I'm also notebook-obsessive. I have stacks of composition books, several pocket notebooks, and today I just bought a medium-sized wirebound red n' black from Target.


Nyce penz rite good.

Appreciation of art, craftsmanship, and the pleasure of writing

I like vintage pens (fountain pens mainly) because:
* They are a pleasure to write with,
* Allow me to use ink colors of my choosing,
* I enjoy the artistry and craftsmanship that went into them - because there were no ballpoints, rollerballs, or computers back then - so, they were the main instruments for writing, (well, there were typewriters, but the execs didn't use them, the secretaries did),
* They were valued objects in their time, and manufacturers made like them fine pieces of art,
* My grandfather and father used them, and so they connect me to them and their history (I have a few from both of them),
* They even smell good (the celluloid ones have a faint camphor aroma),
* I like surprising people when I take one out to take notes, and
* I just enjoy using them and admire their elegant design and function, every day.

It doesn't hurt that they're holding their value a lot better than most stocks, nowadays!

Now all I have to do is upgrade my childish scrawl into a more elegant hand and I'll be satisfied. :-)


"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Albert Einstein and Buckaroo Banzai

Fountain Pens are handwritting jewelry.

I agree that a beautiful pen is better mood changer than adding pounds by eating chocolate or cupcakes. I find a good fountain pen or even an excellent rollerball makes my handwriting nicer, more like art. A beautiful shade of ink always makes my notes seem more personal and makes my day to day henscratch more like calligraphy!

It's hard to stop searching for the perfect pen once you start. Every art store, every office supply store, online (addiction) pen sites I must stop and look. See if there is something "better" than the last best pen I found.

It makes a statement to give good writing utensils as gifts. My brother, a newly graduated HS English Teacher, received 2 nice rollerballs and a new journal for graduation. He has already filled the journal and asked for a nice fountain pen for his birthday only 8 months later! Pens are total addiction... and it has been passed on when it's the right pen.