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Choosing to Write with a Pen

Writing.ie | Magazine | News for Writers | The Big Idea

By Writing.ie

Famous Authors and Their Fountain Pens

While today many authors compose straight onto the keyboard, there is true magic in writing by hand, as authors from Neil Gaiman to Stephen King testify. Both these incredible authors prefer writing their first draft by hand. Writing with fountain pen is seeing a renaissance in forums such as The Fountain Pen Network and through the creation of beautiful, modern pens from retailers such as Goldspot Pens. Here we’ve looked at some famous authors and their favourite writing instruments – which would you choose?

Neil Gaiman

“Working in fountain pen is good because it slows me down just enough to keep my handwriting legible. Often I use two pens with different coloured ink, so I can tell visually how much I did each day.” – Neil Gaiman.

Author Neil Gaiman believes in the importance of a handwritten first draft. In an interview with Tim Ferris, Neil Gaiman reveals his love of  fountain pens from uncapping the pen, the weight on his hand, and how it glides through the paper.

If I’m doing anything long, if I’m working on a novel, for example, I will always have two fountain pens on the go, at least, with two different colored inks, at least, because that way I can see at a glance, how much work I did that day. I can just look down and go, “Look at that! Five pages in brown. How about that? Half a page in black. That was not a good day. Nine pages in blue, cool, what a great day.”

Gaiman has a few favourite pens from different manufacturers, although there are two pens that are mostly feature in his writing: the Pilot custom 823 that he uses for his book signings, and the Lamy 2000 he uses for his long-form writing sessions.

Stephen King

Stephen King wrote Dreamcatcher with the “world’s finest word processor, a Waterman cartridge fountain pen”.

One of the greatest authors of our time, Stephen King uses his favourite fountain pen, the Waterman Hemisphere, in all his rough drafts. In On Writing, he insists on the importance of avoiding working only in digital form. He encourages the use of a fountain pen and a notebook with minimal distractions to get a clear flow of ideas. Being physically involved in the writing process with a pen in your hand creates a unique connection with the brain. Stephen King has been cited saying that he wore out four of his favourite pens working on the novel Dreamcatcher by candlelight. His first draft of Bag and Bones was also handwritten  (see image on right) using his favourite pen.

Mark Twain

“None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain pen, or half its cussedness” – Mark Twain.

Mark Twain treasured the use of quality fountain pens so much so that he became an active advocate for his favorite fountain pen, the Conklin Crescent Filler. This pen was designed to rule out the use of the time-consuming and inefficient use of eyedropper pens, and featured a self-filling mechanism that made it perform better.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Author of the famous Sherlock Holmes novels, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s favorite pen was the Parker Duofold fountain pen. Made from a single block of acrylic, it is one of the first pens crafted by the Parker company, over the years this model has been improved and is still available today.

H.P. Lovecraft

“Let me drown my worries in watered ink” – H.P. Lovecraft.

H.P Lovecraft was very particular about the kind of fountain pen he used. He stuck religiously to the Waterman fountain pen for years and always used one pen until it was worn out before replacing it. All the pens had to have a specific flow of ink, be black in colour, and fit his hand in a certain way.

Ernest Hemingway

“If you write with a pencil you get three different sights at it to see if the reader is getting what you want him to. First when you read it over; then when it is typed you get another chance to improve it, and again in the proof. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it.” – Ernest Hemingway.

As both a journalist and a novelist Ernest Hemingway had a favorite fountain pen, the Montegrappa, a pen he carried with him as a young journalist and later used for his early drafts. Montegrappa Pens honoured Hemingway by developing a series of 4 different fountain pens in his name. They include the Ernest Hemingway soldier pen in tribute to his time spent as a journalist in the First World War, the traveller pen relating to his love of travel, the fisherman pen, and the writer pen. They all feature different designs and are created to ensure that they offer the best performance when writing.

Thoughts flow freely in ink, and for many writers a favourite pen has become part of their writing routine, picking it up is a trigger to their subconscious to start writing. Creating a routine can be hugely beneficial to avoid time wasted procrastinating or the dithering that your brain seems to need to get a writing session started. A good pen is much more than a tool, it becomes a weapon in the writer’s hand, helping them win the battle with the blank page.

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