Monday, March 15, 2021

On Writing 7: My Preferred Writing Instruments


I’ve probably covered this is multiple posts and topics throughout the 6 or 7 years I’ve been talking about writing instruments. While some things left the list and others were added, most likely you can put this list together from my older posts, but I’m going to go all out on this one and try to include everything: paper, pens, pencils, ink, technology, etc. It’s gonna be a bigger post so we might as well get started.

I’ve never started this type of post with paper, and that’s where this one will begin. I’ve babbled on profusely with praise leveled at Nanami Paper Seven Seas notebooks probably more than any other paper source out there. It should come as no surprise that’s where we’ll start. The Seven Seas products are simply some of the best on the market in terms of page count, paper quality, lie-flat ability, and stylistically. They are simply put perfect for writing. The A5 size is easy to carry, they have lined, dot grip, cross-hair grid, and blank. I prefer the dot (Micro Dot) and cross-hair (Crossfield) for pretty much any writing I do with a pen and paper that isn’t note-taking for work. If I’m journalling, writing poetry, writing a story, or anything personal, that all goes in a Seven Seas. I probably have 10 or 12 of them, two of which are full, another 4 have been started, and the others are brand new.

For work notes I tend to use Nemosyne notebook and Rhodia notebooks. I use a Rhodia planner for most of my meetings. But I have three or four Nemosyne books for planning out product releases, video topics, making lists of anodize shipments, special release names, and all other topics of importance go in my Nemosyne books. On the go I tend to use our Story Supply Company pocket notebooks. I have three, each one for a different topic that way if I have an idea or need to take notes I use the correct pocket notebook and then transfer the notes into my Nemosyne books when I get to work. It’s a system that works for me, but it can be somewhat cumbersome.

In terms of digital “paper” I use a Macbook Air 13” with LibreOffice for word processing at home. At work I have a Dell desktop and monitor and tend to use Word though I also use Google Docs from time to time though I’m not a fan of Google Docs as much as I am with Google Sheets and Forms. I have also started to use my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for note-taking as it can use the S-Pen technology. But this experimentation is still early days and I’m not sure I’ll use it very often. It just isn’t as user friendly and easy as I would like it to be.

While I use a ton of different pens, my preferred writing instruments are the Lamy 2000, Montblanc 146, and a late 40s/early 50s Sheaffer Snorkel. But I do have preferred Karas Pen Co pens as well. My two go-to pens are the Delrin Vertex fountain pen or rollerball and our older ringed Retrakts. The Vertex is a no-brainer in my opinion, it’s the most comfortable pen I’ve ever written with. The section shape, length, width, and weight are all just perfect for my grip. I can write forever with the Vertex, and my hand never tires. I used to hate the Retrakt because it felt too skinny, but the ringed version for some reason feels great. Just enough extra grip to keep my hands on the pen, and with a little tweaking it takes the Pilot Precise refills which are my favorite rollerball refills of all time.

I use our Retraktable Slim mechanical pencils for any pencil work I need to do. Previously I preferred Uni Kura Toga mechanical pencils, but I actually find them too light and my hand starts to hurt after a short while when I’m writing with one. The weight and width of the Retraktable Slim is where it’s at for me, plus I use large hi polymer erasers and the Kura Toga eraser is pretty much garbage if you need to erase anything. I also use Blackwing pencils from time to time when I’m feeling posh or I have one in front of me. I don’t go out of my way to buy hardcase pencils, but I have a few in my drawer at work.

I’ve already covered my favorite rollerball refill, the Pilot Precise, and generally I prefer the 0.7mm refill to the 0.5mm but it depends on the task. I use a variety of fountain pen inks, from Namiki Blue to Montblanc Shakespeare Red to Karas Pen Co Desert Varnish to Sailor Yama Dori and a bunch in between all of those I can’t count how many bottles of ink I have. Namiki Blue and Waterman Serenity Blue are probably the two standbys that I always keep on hand. They work in just about any pen; modern or vintage and both look great on paper. I also like Akkerman Shocking Blue but because it sheens a lot, I tend to only use it in cheaper pens or converter pens like the INK V2.

Lastly my cases are almost solely Rickshaw Bagworks cases. I have a coozie holder, several Waldos, one of the breifcase bags, multiple single pen sleeves, and none of them have failed me yet. They are stylish and keep my pens safe plus they are do what they are supposed to do and are great quality. I also have a bunch of Rickshaw masks that I have been wearing in the pandemic and plan on adding a few larger pen holders to the list of Rickshaw items I carry on a regular basis.

That about wraps up the list of writing instruments that get the most amount of mileage put on them. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something and it will dawn on me in a few hours after I’ve posted this. But this is the best I can do on 4 hours of sleep. I think I’ve covered all the most popular items outside of colored pencils and crayons. I’ll save those for April Fools.

Whatever your preferred instrument is, keep writing!


  1. So, have you tried everything else, or do you just know what you like when you've found it? I can shop ad nauseum and never drop a dime because if I did I'd buy one of everything you make (for instance) and never experience a SAILOR (very nice but very dear) or a NEMOSYNE (very reasonable with a nib to envy- from Pittsburgh)! I guess every pocket has a different depth. But I digress.

    Keep up the good work!

    Born Loser

    1. It's impossible to try everything for this whole list because manufacturers keep expanding their catalogs, and new manufacturers enter the market place. Having said that, I've been fortunate enough to use a LOT of different writing instruments. Before I worked at Karas, I was a self taught in vintage fountain pen repair and I repaired hundreds if not thousands of pens. When I got this job, I began expanding to modern pens and personally purchased a LOT of the major brands products. Also I've benefitted greatly from pen shows and pen meetups which allowed me to try a ton of other pens. We are also fortunate enough to have a pen reviewer that lives in Arizona and he will often bring in pens for us to try. That being said, for much of this list it boils down to what I find works best for me. I've sold much of my personal collection because I found about 20 pens that I like, and most of the others I greatly disliked. Mostly I post lists like this for people that are curious about what I land on when I recommend something. Generally speaking these are the things I write with most and recommend most because I've found them far superior in some way in comparison to all of the others I've purchased or written with. Maybe next time I should write something talking about the pens I abandoned and the reasons why I moved on from them, but inevitably this might come off as being heavily critical of the "competition".