OK, I’m going to just come out and say it: I don’t like using fountain pens.
I like looking at beautifully made fountain pens. I like handling them. And I love the idea of using fountain pens. But when it actually comes time to put ink on paper, I’ll take a good gel or rollerball pen every time. Heck, even a ballpoint, if it comes to that.
I know, sentiments like that are anathema to most pen geeks. Trust me, I’ve tried to make myself love them as much as the rest of you. But it just hasn’t worked.
To me, my reasons are valid, though.
1. Fountain pens are distracting
I enjoy the sensory experience of feeling a good pen flow across the clean paper. But, I don’t write for that reason. When I’m writing by hand, it’s for the sole purpose of putting ideas or information on paper.
When you use a fountain pen, it’s all about the pen. You have to always be conscious of how you’re holding the pen, how it’s moving, how the ink is flowing. If you let the fountain pen get out of the correct position, it won’t work. You’re forced to focus on the act of writing itself, rather than on the writing.
That’s a problem.
I want as little impediment between my brain and the paper as possible. I want to think it and see the words appear, without having to consider my pen. The beauty of the right gel pen is that you just write. It does its job – moving effortlessly, putting down vivid lines – without demanding attention to itself like a fountain pen does.
2. Fountain pens are too much work.
Look, I already have enough to worry about between car maintenance, taking care of the computer equipment I use to make a living, keeping up with little repairs around my apartment, and the general minutiae of daily living.
Fountain pens have to be cleaned carefully after use, stored just so to prevent damage or leaking, filled before use. I’m not interested in having to worry about my writing instruments like that on top of everything else. It’s just unnecessary hassle and, for me, takes all the fun out of pens.
I enjoy finding and buying and using new pens. But they have to be low-maintenance.
3. Fountain pens are too expensive.
As I’ve said before, my absolute favorite pen to date is the Pentel EnerGel, especially now that it comes in so many different variations. Not one of them costs more than about US$10.
I know that there are good fountain pens to be had for under US$50. But, let’s be honest, most of you are spending hundreds of dollars on fountain pens. Maybe I’m just cheap because the idea of parting with that kind of cash for a pen makes me cringe.
(Of course, having said that, I want and eventually plan to own a Pilot Vanishing Point for occasional use…and we all know how expensive those things are.)
The VP aside, for the cost of a high-end fountain pen, I can buy boxes of my favorite gel and liquid ink pens, all of which I would enjoy using more than a fountain pen. And I won’t end up in tears if I drop one of them on a hard floor.
So, what do you think? Ready to let me have it? Feel free to share your feelings about fountain pens in the comment section below.
To put Tony out of his misery we suggest he takes a look at our article on 8 fountain pen alternatives (which are not gel or ballpoints) this might just help him see the light.
Editors update Tony was given a fountain pen and perhaps he has had a change of heart, you can find out if he did in Revisiting Why I Don’t Use Fountain Pens.