Why I Swapped Out my BIC for a Fountain Pen

Brian L.
Photo by energepic.com

Although fountain pens have become less common with the advent of use-once-and-throw-away plastic ballpoint pens, many people are rediscovering them with the help of online communities such as Reddit’s r/fountainpens.

Despite the ubiquity of Bic ballpoints, or even the Pilot G2 Gel Pen, the fountain pen community is not extinct — as of now Reddit’s r/fountainpens (a subreddit dedicated to pictures of new and vintage fountain pens alike, questions about fountain pens, and even cool sketches drawn by fountain pens) has 124k members.

So why do fountain pens resonate with so many people in an age where keyboards and computers exist, and when those who do need to jot down something typically use whatever they have on hand? The answer differs from person to person, but the reason I keep my trusty blue Pilot Prera on hand is that I find it to be a boost on productivity.

My Blue Pilot Prera with an Extra Fine nib, along with a bottle of Diamine Prussian Blue

Objectively speaking, fountain pens can boost your productivity by making it more ergonomic for you to write. The smoothness of the fountain pen is unparalleled by any ballpoint or even gel pen. What do I mean by smoothness? If you take a regular ballpoint pen, hold it by the end, and drag the tip of that pen across a paper, you that no line is produced.

At the same time, if you take a fountain pen, and replicate the dragging-by-the-end test, you will most frequently be able to produce a line without exerting and iota of force onto the paper. This difference between the hard-pressing required to activate a ballpoint pen and the gentle touch needed to use a fountain pen is the difference that makes using a fountain pen, especially when compounded over pages of writing, much more ergonomical, allowing you to write longer and boost your productivity.

Just flowing on and on, page after page

Subjectively, fountain pens are just cool. There is something fascinating in having the ink flow through the capillary system — from the converter down the feed to the tip of the nib — that makes the writing experience that much more fun.

I like being in class and taking notes because I know that I get to use my fountain pen. Tasks like writing, note-taking, and studying have actually become enjoyable, and now I can focus my energy on conquering other tasks, instead of forcibly willing myself to sit down and write.

Fountain Pen Recommendations?

I highly recommend the Pilot Metropolitan, which has a brass body, a cap that snaps on for on-the-go writing, and the highly-reliable Pilot nib. It’s 15 dollars on Amazon, and is highly recommended as a budget-friendly pen that can stand its own against even pricier pens.

If the Pilot Metropolitan is too heavy for you, or if the shape of the pen doesn’t suit your grip, I find the Pilot Prera to be a solid alternative — it uses the same nib as the Metropolitan, but is way lighter and, in my opinion, has a more ergonomic shape.

If you are a bit more adventurous, try some Chinese-branded fountain pens. The Wingsung 3008, a piston-filler pen that is only 3 dollars on Ebay, has garnered plenty of praise for its ultra budget-friendly price and its ability to piston-fill, something that’s typically found in pens at a much higher price point.

No matter the pen you start off with, you’ll definitely be drawn in to try many different pens along your fountain pen journey. As r/fountainpens says, just have fun, and don’t fall too deep into the “rabbit hole”.

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