Equation for the Perfect Writing Tools

If you are particular about what you write with like me, you may agree that the following equation, when put together just right, adds up to a great writing experience:

Pen (A) + Ink (B) + Paper (C) = The Perfect Writing Experience (YAY)!

There is no right or wrong answer to this equation since the answer will depend on the preferences and tastes of the writer.

I’m still in the process of experimenting with pens, inks and papers to see what works for me. Being a Lefty adds some additional challenges since I’m always trying to avoid a big mess of smeared ink. Much to my dismay, I’ve discovered that I am not able to use Clairefontaine’s fabulously smooth 90g white paper for everyday writing with a fountain pen. Almost all fountain pen ink dries too slowly on this paper for my style of left-handed writing and I make a huge mess. *Sniff* However, I can use this paper successfully with a fine nib Platinum Preppy fountain pen using Platinum ink cartridges, Pentel Energel or Slicci gel pens, or some other non-fountain pens and pencils. I’m in the process of testing other types of Clairefontaine paper such as the Graf it sketch pads to see if I can use it regularly with fountain pens. It seems that I need a paper that is slightly absorbent and not too coated, that still resists ink feathering and bleed-through. Right now I am loving J. Herbin Ink since it seems to have a pretty decent drying time. As regards to the pen I use, well, is it possible to have too many pens? I tend to write with whatever I’m in the mood for that particular day.

This is where I need to hear from you. Please leave a comment and tell me what your perfect writing tools are. I’d love to get some valuable tips from other writers!

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14 Replies to “Equation for the Perfect Writing Tools”

  1. I partially disagree… while there might be no right answer, there are certainly wrong ones! (Some pens / ink just don’t write well with some paper).
    My preferred:
    Lamy Safari (EF or F nib)
    PR Sherwood Green (though I may change to Noodler’s Eternal when this ink ever runs out)
    I’m pretty open to different papers. I’m currently using Piccadilly fake-Moleskine, Moleskine, Green record books, etc. As long as there isn’t bleed-through and I don’t have to pay extra to ship an already expensive notebook I’m fine with it.

  2. I carry a Moleskine cashier or Field Notes pocket notebook with unlined pages with me everywhere I go. This is what I write in the most. My pen of choice is a Lamy Al-Star or Lamy Vista EF with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black. This combo is perfect for my everyday needs.

  3. I smeared my paper for years, (I’m a lefty too) searching for fast drying pens etc, then a few years ago I started writing under, like a right hander. I can’t write as fast and the slant of my letters is slighty left, but writing more slowly is more pleasurable anyway. I only have writersblok dot paper which I really like, I can’t wait to try the Rhodia dot.– So, Rhodia paper and my Hero 100 with Private Reserve American Blue ink, those are my go to’s.

  4. I’m using a Lamy Vista EF with Noodler’s Ink Polar Black, but I’m not having much luck. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a lefty too, but I’m having a hard time getting a constant flow of ink.
    This didn’t happen with the “trial” cartridge that came the pen, so maybe it’s the INK. Which would suck. I got this Noodler’s because I wanted a waterproof ink for sketching.
    But, I’m an “overwriter” and I haven’t had any issues with ink smudges so far 🙂
    (I hope it is OK to re-post what I wrote on your FB page 🙂

  5. Estivalia –
    I experienced a similar problem with an EF LAMY nib. The black LAMY ink that came with the pen worked much better than Noodler’s Black. I solved the problem by switching to a F LAMY nib instead. For some reason that worked for me. Feel free to re-post what you write on our FB page.
    Thanks for your comments everyone!

  6. I have a Lamy Safari EF, currently writing on various papers, but mostly a Moleskine with the stock ink that came in the cartridge (because I only just bought it from Writer’s Bloc).
    I’m also a lefty and I stopped using fountain pens until I bought this one because I hooked over when I wrote and still smudged. A few months ago, I bit the bullet and started writing under. It took some time for my writing to become legible, but I can finally use a fountain pen again, and I find that it writes much better from under than when I used to hook over.
    As for paper, I think as long as meets a minimum standard, mostly tied to bleed through at this point, it’s fine. I did get some Clairfontaine notebooks (also from Writer’s Bloc), and the paper is a dream to write on.
    The only thing I haven’t really sampled is different inks, such as the Noodler and other brands. I only have a bottle of Lamy Blue Black ink in a bottle, but haven’t used it yet because my cartridge hasn’t worn out yet.
    So, at the moment:
    Lamy Safari EF Nib + Lamy Blue Black Ink + Clairfontaine Paper = Nearly perfect writing experience.

  7. And here I thought I am just being overly obsessive in finding the perfect writing partner. 🙂 Being a lefty also (probably the main reason why) I have this notion that if I have that perfect tool for writing then the task would be even more enjoyable (and my penmanship would improve greatly). So i’ve been constantly on the look-out for pens, inks and paper.
    Here’s my arsenal:
    1. Lamy Safari EF, M and 1.5mm Italic nib which I usually pair with Waterman Blue-Black. Almost any ink works great with this pen. I’ve tried using this with my Aurora Blue and the performance was superb.
    2. Parker Frontier F paired with a Waterman Black. I use this for documents in the office since they need to be official looking . The F nib writes like a medium and with the flow of waterman Inks, its the perfect pen for signatures and those quick comments for my boss. >:)
    3. Waterman Hemisphere F. So far i’ve only been able to put Blue-Black ink in this pen. Though I use it as a dip pen for some quick sketches using J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage and Cafe Des Iles.
    4. Rotring Art Pen F filled with J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage. I use this for sketches and sometimes for writing in my journals.
    5. Parker Jotter M nib filled with Cafe Des Iles and an Inoxcrom pen with my mixture of dark teal ink (equal parts of Aurora blue, for its purplish blue color and great flow, combined with Lierre Sauvage).Both pens are my “road warriors”. I carry them always for that quick notes and/or sketches wherever I go. I won’t have to worry about break or scratches since their resilient enough (not to mention cheap).
    Papers in our office don’t serve me well so it’s up to me to buy my own supply. I use Moleskine journals, planners and cahier (for quick notes), while a clairefontaine basics notebook serve me for my project notes.For the sketchpad, I mainly use clairefontaine 90g/m2.

  8. I have not used the much revered Clairefontaine smooth 90g paper. I am, however, enjoying Clairefontaine Graf-it pads. I like the slight texture of the paper, and they are very fountain pen friendly. I have not experienced any frustration with this paper, and because the paper is white (as opposed to ivory), I use it regularly in trying new inks. From what I understand, this same type of paper is also used in the Exacompta Basics journals.

  9. James – Haha! I don’t think there is such as thing as being “overly obsessive” about writing tools when you LOVE writing 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your arsenal!

  10. Karen – I’m glad to hear you like the paper in the Clairefontaine Graf-it pads. I find that it works well with all sorts of pens including fountain pens. This paper is not exactly the same as the paper in the Exacompta Basics journals. The Basics Forum Journal has a lighter weight 64g smooth paper and the Basics Sketchbook has a heavier weight 100g paper with some texture and is made of 25% cotton. If you like the Graf-it pads you’ll have to give the Exacompta Basics Sketchbook a try sometime!

  11. Hi, it’s good to read an excellent blog from a leftie since I happen to be one too. I’ve just plunged into the world of fountain pens recently after more than a 15 year hiatus. Pens back then weren’t very left hander friendly then as far as I remember.
    Anyway, I use an amazing Lamy Safari apple green with a black “Left handed” nib or so its called LH. Bought it supercheap at the excellent Gouletpens website. In regards to paper, I’ve been experimenting with many different types since I haven’t been able to stop writing since I got this pen!
    Clairefontaine Triomphe has got to be my favourite paper, followed by a few other Rhodia ones. Ink-wise, I find the Aurora Black to be a great experience because it is very dark black(its all I’m allowed to use for work) and most of all, it DRIES QUICKLY!
    Continue with the great posts!

  12. Sorry for my late very arrival to this post, but is that a gold nib on your Lamy Vista? That is among the coolest things I have ever seen in the fountain pen world. How do you like the combination?

    1. Hi Lane,

      Yes, it is indeed a LAMY gold nib on the LAMY Vista fountain pen in the photo. It was a fun experiment. Great way to get a LAMY demonstrator fountain pen with a gold nib on it!

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