Finding The Ideal Pen

Still on the topic of stationary, I have a fever with pens.

As with everything new, the addiction starts off with experimenting and exploring various options and combination. I have too many pens in my pencil case now that I might have to properly ration each and every one of them to understand how they well they function. It sounds funny, but I’m in the midst of creating a schedule, planning which pen to use for the week.

Having a site like the pen addict is a fantastic resource place for a novice like me. On the other hand, it’s like a bane. The more I explore, the deeper I go into the rabbit hole. The influx of fresh information strikes me like a kid in the candy shop. The discovery of these highly recommended pens make me want to go shopping for them. Having a small, local stationary shop that stocks most of these sought-after pens probably contributed to my surge in this interest as well.

Back home, I can’t wait to start writing. Writing with pens I bought over the days. It’s a nice feeling with the textile feel of the pen pushing ink on the lustrous paper. My handwriting is a reflection of my personality. They reveal traits and traces of character in us.

Recently, a colleague told me he went to several places – major and popular shops to small, niche corners to look for a pen. He was hoping to find a replacement for his beloved pen that was dried out. But he couldn’t find them locally so he had to resort to buying them off eBay. That was his first foray in online purchasing and it was for a box of pens.

I dismissed the conversation as a sign of nostalgia. Holding on to something that reminds them of the past. Coincidentally, I read about Shawn Blanc’s post on his favourite software and tools and the one that caught my eyes was the mention of a pen named Uni-ball Singo DX. I always assume with his area of interests, and the comprehensive review on mechanical keyboards, he would be less keen on trivial stationary like pens.

Nevertheless, I looked up the Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38mm. On first impression, it appeared aesthetically ordinary and nothing particularly stood out. There were many positive reviews from people all over and some were raving about it. Coupled with his endorsement and the Internet’s recommendation, I have to try it out myself.

It’s inexpensive, replaceable and best of all, they are readily available locally. The ink is gel-based. Coming from someone who almost only write with a ballpoint, there wasn’t any hint of awkwardness and the transition was plain sailing. There more I write, the more I like how these gel-ink are produced on the paper.

It provides a little friction (or sketchy) when I write, but generally it was smooth. Some people actually prefer the little sketchiness but after a couple of days, it’s no longer noticeable to me. Maybe it’s me getting used to the pen’s characteristics rather than it being broken-in. The ink dries quick and it doesn’t smudge. Also, there is very minimal bleeding. This is very much welcomed as bleeding is something that irks me, and it is the main reason why I haven’t been using gel-ink pens as much as I would like.

I also like the grip and weight distribution of the pen. It feels just right in my hand and I experienced little pen fatigue. The ink is consistent right from the first stroke compared to other pens that need time to get to the proper level of ink production.

Unfortunately, durability is not one of its selling points. I dropped it from about waist level, and it landed on the hard surface of the ground. I picked it up, started writing with it but it wasn’t the same as before. The ink started to skip, and on some occasion, it would totally stop working. Even the colour of the ink seems different. Luckily, the replacement ink wasn’t expensive and it also gave me a chance to explore other pens, for which i also bought on impulse.

They include the following:

  • Pilot G-Tec-C4 0.4mm
  • Zebra Sarasa 0.5mm
  • Pentel Slicci 0.4mm given by the above mentioned co-worker

Now, having experienced the fragility of knowing how the micro gel ink pens will turn out after dropping, I’m handling them with better care. I understand they are not as sturdy as the ballpoints I used to love and they can never survive a drop on a hard surface.

This is not a conclusive, nor does it provide a definite recommendation on selecting the best gel-ink pen. It is based on my personal experience and writing style so it varies from person to person. Having said that, I want this to be the reference for myself in terms of my choice of tools, my taste and my thoughts. It will serve as a reflection if I ever were to read it again.

I never understood how much difference a pen can make to my writing until I actually chanced upon one. It makes me want to pick it up. It encourages me to write more. My handwriting appears more legible, and I gain more traction in penning my thoughts down. It’s like a silent and trusty companion, urging me to use it to explore new ground. Now, I can see why there are sites like The Pen Addict around. Because it’s worth it. Once we settle on something as meaningful as having the ideal pen, what the rest of the world says is redundant.

Over the last week, I filled up close to 10 pages of moleskine and rhodia notebook. They contained more than just lines and lines of words. I like how these micro gel ink pens feel and performance when I sketched with them. They are to me, surprisingly sturdy and they felt really nice when I drew many different shapes and outlines. I actually feel this by having such great tools, it gives a lift to my creative endeavours. I started to sketch more and take down more notes.

My hands are aching a little from this exercise of continuous writing and drawing. I’m not sure if it’s the effect of not writing this much on paper for a long time, or it’s a matter of getting used to the particular pen I’m using. Either way, I’m really enjoying the process of trying out different pens and working my way through them. It’s still early days and I don’t have a favourite pen yet. Maybe I could rotate among them, because they are all sublime in their own subtle manner.

Right now, I’m just going to take in the moment and read through what I have written for the past few pages. Now, it’s like a therapy. Putting words onto paper puts me in a relaxed state and it unwinds my mind. It provides an outlet to express myself and make sense of my presence in this universe.

I used to seek such asylum with the blog, but I discover writing with pen and paper gives me a closer connection. They are two similar yet different medium, for they both provide me with a platform to store my thoughts and ideas.