Image credit: Dave Hermann via Flickr

Writing here recently about diary writing and journaling, it struck me that I’d overlooked a very important aspect. While you can reasonably write on pretty much anything that comes to hand (although a Moleskine book or similar is best), you almost certainly want a pen that is comfortable, and pleasing to use.

The big question is, how do you find such a pen?

I think it comes down to a number of factors. Certainly, when I began regular journaling, I had a number of pens to hand, but none of them suited. Roller balls are a favourite, but for regular writing they seem a little untidy and fast. Biros are by their nature untidy, liable to leak slightly and cause unsightly smudges. I even tried out technical pencils, but again, no go here. I admit I overlooked fibre tips, a favourite while at school, for mess-related reasons.

(I don’t know about you, but my handwriting isn’t the tidiest around — I needed something I could re-read in future years!)

What I eventually plumbed for was a Parker fountain pen, with cartridge refills. I used similar pens at school almost 30 years ago, and while they seem to have barely changed (it’s a classic design, after all) I had noticed when reviewing old books that my fountain work was neater and more legible than that found in others.

But there is also an innate charm in the spread of ink from a fountain pen nib. That uncertainty as to how much ink is going to pour forth with a particular word, or how dark it will be if you spend too long contemplating the right word(s)… in short, I suppose that the pen has a poetry and romance all of its own that the more mechanical ink-to-paper constructs of the modern age can never possess.

It’s my choice, ultimately. You might prefer to write your journal with invisible ink applied with cotton wool buds, or type it on a computer. However you do it, the important thing is that the tools you use make it as easy as possible. Perhaps, even as easy as breathing!