By third grade, I had developed some definite writing utensil biases. For example, I quickly realized that I did not like the pencils made with composite wood and soft, greasy leads that lost their points half way through a spelling test. I also learned that fancy pencils -- the Garfield ones, the metallic silver ones, even Yikes! Pencils -- usually had lousy erasers, the kind that would smear your lead across the page instead of removing it. The plain old Faber Castells and Ticonderogas ended up being my favorites because the lead was hard enough to keep a point for a while, but it still felt smooth, and the erasers actually worked.
I've changed in many ways since then. For instance, I do not find the Olsen Twins as funny as I used to. For another instance, I rarely use pencils now. That's not to say I don't write much. I still write plenty, but I've found that when I'm not writing on a computer, like when I'm writing in my journal, I want my writing to be permanent and not smeared or faded, so I mostly use pens. I still love my standard #2 pencils and love how they feel when I write with them, but I've switched to pens for 90 percent of my handwriting, and my writing-utensil pickiness has made the switch with me.
Pens, I've found, are a lot more diverse than pencils. Ballpoints, for example, use a pasty ink that the pen actually rolls onto the page, so it has a slower, controlled feel. Roller ball pens, on the other hand, have a looser feel because they use a liquid ink that bleeds out of the tip when you touch pen to paper. Porous point pens, like Sharpie fine points, are basically ultra-fine markers and have a very light feel.
When I'm at work, I'm perfectly happy with cheap ballpoints in any color of ink. When I'm writing at home, I get a little pickier. My go-to pen of choice for day-to-day writing, like keeping notes when I'm studying or making a to-do list, is either one of these fine-point Sharpies, preferably in blue, or a decent roller ball. I like to have one of these Micron .25 porous point pens on hand when I'm reading a book so I can jot down notes in the margins. The points are so fine that they write clearly even when you're writing small, and they never bleed through the page.
However, my favorite pens of all are fountain pens, and they're what I use when I write in my journal. I like that every fountain pen feels a little different and that they're pens you hold on to for a long time, since you buy bottles of ink and refill them whenever they run out. I'm not a fountain pen nut -- some fountain pen users spend thousands of dollars on their pens -- but I have several inexpensive fountain pens that I really like, one of which is a Pilot Varsity. These are the cheapest fountain pens I've seen, about the same price as a decent roller ball pen. They're not refillable, but they feel great.
So, how about you? Do you have favorite pens and pencils? Any other nerdy quirks you feel like divulging?
Posted by Chandler Warnick