Cut Me and I Bleed ... Ink

Sharpie pens from Overstock.comBy 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.


Fountain pen from

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



Feb. 7, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Pens remind me of a co-worker I had who wrote her name on all her pens using post-its and tape and would get a little angsty if one went missing. I never understood until I bought a pack of Sharpie pens...the the champion of all pens. I would totally write my name on those babies.

Feb. 7, 2011 at 12:24 PM

I remember having to have only 0.5-size mechanical pencils in school because I hated how the 0.7 pencils wrote. I didn't like having to sharpen pencils, so I always had to have mechanical ones. Bic made fantastic pencils, and I still get a little nostalgic for them when I walk down the school supply aisle.

Feb. 7, 2011 at 12:29 PM

I share your love of writing utensils. My dad used to give me pen and pencil sets and I quickly grew fond of mechanical pencils. My favorite was a tiny silver futuristic set. I also really liked a mechanical pencil with the clicker on the side, rather than on the top. I still compare mechanical pencils with a high level of scrutiny to the laughs and amazement of those around me. The sleek metal ones are my favorite. I struggle to get behind pens in general, though. I will try a couple of your recommendations.

Feb. 7, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I love the Sharpie fine points. I love them. I don't even care that you can see the ink through on the other side of the page. One of the happiest days of my life was when I bought the 36-color pack of Sharpie fine points. I don't think I've found a pen that I despise more than gel pens. They always dry out and I hate way they feel all scratchy against paper.

Feb. 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

I love it in the Indiana Jone's movie where they escape using the ink of a pen to blind their guard and Brody exclaims, "The pen is mightier than the sword." I was always petrified of using a pen for school work in case I made a mistake and I preferred mechanical pencils to wooden ones. Then I realized as I frantically tried to take notes that the speed of my writing was directly correlated to the amount of times my lead would snap, so out of necessity I switched to all-ink and have never looked back.

Feb. 7, 2011 at 1:51 PM

I love working with a good, sharp pencil, but since that's so hard to keep I tend to write in ink. I love these pens, but I have to warn you that if you take them on airplanes they'll leak, and they'll never recover. Even once you're back on the ground.

Feb. 8, 2011 at 9:31 AM

In college I bought a new fine-point pen for every term; I went to the campus bookstore's art department and picked out a new color for taking notes. There were so many pretty colors. Also, I like the pilot pens.

Feb. 9, 2011 at 9:42 AM

My favorite pens are the old-fashioned Flair pens in multiple colors. Yes, you can still get them. For pencils, I like mechanical, and that's all I used as a college engineering student many years ago. Now, I use wooden pencils mostly, because I don't like having to keep up with lead. And there is nothing like using that freshly sharpened wooden pencil with the sharpest tip. Brings back memories....

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