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Easy Pens
December 19, 2003 8:01 AM   Subscribe

What's a really comfortable and easy pen to write with? Apparently I hold my pen "wrong", which causes some pain, and have a lot of stiffness in my hands to begin with. Ultimately I'm looking for something that will allow me to write for a good length of time without too much discomfort. Plus, I don't want to spend too much money, as I'd likely just lose the pen. Anywhere in the $20 -$30 (CDN) range is good.
So what are your tips or suggestions for making writing physically easier?
posted by aclevername to Writing & Language (20 answers total)
 
I use a standard-issue Parker Jotter--it has a nice weight and balance, makes a good, clear line with little pressure, and lasts for months and months of heavy use without the need for a refill. If you can find one with a full-metal instead of a metal-and-plastic body, that'll be even better, but that might be slightly out of your price range.

Also, keeping your pen with your wristwatch and/or wallet is a good way not to lose it.
posted by Prospero at 8:09 AM on December 19, 2003


Ever since Edward Winston, of Wakefield, Massachusetts, stole my Mont Blanc Maestro, I have refused to buy another very nice pen. I could beat that guy senseless without remorse.

Prospero's suggestion is a good one, and the all-stainless model is well within your price range.
posted by trharlan at 8:23 AM on December 19, 2003


The Rotring 600 is a great pen that's reasonably priced, and Mr Winston better stay well clear of mine. There's an eulogy to it on everything2, but I can't get it to load, so no link. sorry.
posted by bonaldi at 9:22 AM on December 19, 2003


Discussed on MeFi here and here.

Based on the comments in the Moleskine discussion, I bought a Cross Ion, and have been really happy with it. It's got a great grip, writes smoothly, and compacts down to a very small pocket size.
posted by mkultra at 9:28 AM on December 19, 2003 [1 favorite]


Based on the moleskine discussion, I got a few pilot G2s for like 3 dollars and I love them. (They're just "normal" pens, but they write really smoothly and well.)
posted by callmejay at 9:34 AM on December 19, 2003


(I also got a moleskine, which I have never, ever used. But still like. :)
posted by callmejay at 9:35 AM on December 19, 2003


This may not help you, but pen guys might find it an interesting read. If it isn’t an internet classic already, it should be.
posted by Termite at 9:37 AM on December 19, 2003


I've always been partial to the Uniball Micro 2mm. They look classy for a disposable, and they're a standard tool of choice for drafters/illustrators. Best of all, the pens require little effort in terms of grip or inkflow.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:54 AM on December 19, 2003


I'm a big fan of Pilot's Dr. Grip - a nice fat pen to hold on to, padded grip area, pretty cheap (around $7 USD, less in a multi-pack), available anywhere, and refillable if you don't lose it.
posted by ferociouskitty at 10:59 AM on December 19, 2003


I've found that slimmer pens will sometimes cause finger cramps after long writing bouts, so you may want to investigate pens with larger barrels. The Rotring Core is a very fat pen and is in the price range you quoted.
posted by joaquim at 11:09 AM on December 19, 2003 [1 favorite]


I'll second on the Dr. Grip for a decent ballpoint.

My daily fountain pen of choice for quite a while now has been the Waterman Phileas.
posted by briank at 11:10 AM on December 19, 2003


So what are your tips or suggestions for making writing physically easier?

I suggest an ergonomic keyboard. Seriously. If writing longhand for an extended period casues you pain, don't do it.
posted by kindall at 11:37 AM on December 19, 2003


I've got pretty bad CTS, Kindall, and I'd always assumed that things like writing with pens and typing on the computer for extended periods of time caused it, but according to the guy who's going to do surgery on me, there have been studies that have tried to link it to specific behaviors like typing, but despite intuition, they can't seem to. Apparently, while they can inflame a pre-existing condition, the evidence, he says, suggests it's mostly a genetic predisposition -- if you're going to get it, you're going to get it.

I've read other things, though not heard them from an expert, that say there's no evidence that ergonomic keyboards do any good either. Certainly, I've had one for awhile and it's not done wonders for me.

This by way of saying, aclevername, that finding the right pen is only going to be a comfort issue, and if you've got pain or stiffness in your hands you should see a doctor. I know this isn't really what you were getting at with your question, but I just learned this info yesterday and I think it's pretty interesting.

That said, I agree that the Dr. Grip pens (and there's a pencil with similar design called PhD) are good. Not necessarily great pens, but made for people with arthritis, so they're very comfortable for people without. And you can buy them in any drugstore, and they're relatively cheap. I lose pens and pencils all the time, so cost is a factor. They actually do make a difference, I've noticed -- you can write with less force, and so about double the time before your hands start to cramp up.

I would also suggest taking a break to stretch your hands whenever they start to hurt. Even for just 20-30 seconds. This helped me during my 3 2-hour essay finals (on the same f*ing day) last week.
posted by Hildago at 11:59 AM on December 19, 2003 [1 favorite]


I third the Dr. Grip endorsement, although all the ones I've bought lately (in 2003, that is) have had really poor ink. Lots of blotting and tracking issues. Dr. Grip's advantage is in how it almost forces you to hold the pen farther back from the tip and in a more ergonomic position.

When Dr. Grip blots too much I look toward any drugstore--well, Staples--pen that has a fat padded grip. Increasing the girth of the pen will help you considerably.
posted by werty at 12:10 PM on December 19, 2003


I am a big fan of the Staedtler mechanical pencils. They are incredibly comfortable to use. Parker makes really good mechanical pencils too. I have a *great* black one made by them.

Also I use the Cross Ion as my regular pen. It's slightly fat, but very comfy to use. I also like the Cross Morph.
posted by riffola at 12:10 PM on December 19, 2003


Hildago, make sure you actually have CTS and that it is your primary problem before you get surgery. I had it unnecessarily, and while it did no significant long-term harm, it did me zero good either since it turned out CTS wasn't the source of my pain & tingling. (If you do have legitimate CTS, indications are that the surgery works great, although it probably shouldn't be the first thing you try.)
posted by callmejay at 12:31 PM on December 19, 2003


Get a fountain pen. I reccomend a cheap Waterman one. The phileas has been suggested. It's a great pen. French made, you know. If you want something a little more weighted, get their Expert II model. Nice. Metal. Long lasting. Cheap to use if you actually use bottled ink (I'm too lazy for that).

You'll never go back if you have to write more than one page. And, if your pain turns out to be caused by too much force on the pen, such as mine, you'll quickly learn not to do that when you use a fountain pen.

Note: Fountain pens are lousy if you use super cheap paper, or paper that isn't somewhat pourous. They'll end up skipping constantly, and eventually the nib will get so full of fibre it'll get sprung. Then you're off to replace it. With careful use a fountain pen will last a long time. I'm still using one I got almost 7 years ago, which cost me a whole $30 (CDN, of course).

Most fountain pens provide a wider grip, also, which is quite helpful.

Business Depot has a good selection. Good luck!
posted by shepd at 12:58 AM on December 20, 2003


I've got pretty bad CTS, Kindall, and I'd always assumed that things like writing with pens and typing on the computer for extended periods of time caused it

Well, in this case we're not talking about CTS, we're talking about pain after using a pen for a long period of time. It seems reasonable to assume that it's caused by the writing. If you say "Doc, it hurts when I do this," the doc's going to say, "Then don't do that." I can't think of a reason to write for extended periods of time longhand if it literally hurts you.

I haven't written anything much longer than a check by hand in about fifteen years.
posted by kindall at 3:28 AM on December 20, 2003


I know this isn't really what you were getting at with your question, but I just learned this info yesterday and I think it's pretty interesting.
posted by Hildago at 11:34 AM on December 20, 2003


Thanks for all your input.

Kindall,
I can't think of a reason to write for extended periods of time longhand if it literally hurts you.


While I see your point, writing longhand, specifically for journalling, is something I really enjoy, and while it's getting difficult, I want to try and keep doing it. I ended up ordering this ring pen. I'm not big on the fact that I couldn't really try it before buying it, but it just may be what I need.
posted by aclevername at 11:11 AM on December 24, 2003


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