Everyday when I grab my backpack and head out the door, I have no less than 15 writing instruments with me. To some, that may sound excessive. Those people would be wrong. If you’re reading this, there’s a better than average chance you think 15 writing instruments it about the write (very proud of myself for making it to my second post before using this bangin’ joke) number to make it through the day with all of the various and sundry writing situations I may find myself in. Can you imagine needing to jot a lunch order on a Post It note and only having a fountain pen or signing one of those glossy receipts and only having a liquid ink rollerball? OH, THE HORROR! I’m not about to be caught with my proverbial pants down and neither should you. Always have the right tool for the job.
Speaking of the right tools for the job, let’s get to what I’m writing with at the moment and how I’m using them.
I like taking this pen to work with me for a few reasons:
1) It’s all matte black and doesn’t draw much attention to itself. While someone might notice a clear demonstrator or a bright, swirled resin, the matte black Pro Gear flies under the radar. I absolutely never leave a pen in the open air while I walk away, but in the off chance that I mistakenly abandon it on my desk, it’s not likely to grab the attention of anyone with sticky fingers.
2) The Japanese fine nib is surgically fine and precise. I find that a Japanese fine is preferable for jotting down quick notes, which is the primary form of handwriting I do in my job.
3) The downside of the fine nib (for me) is the feedback that it has. I understand that it’s just part of what you get with such a fine point that has very little tipping. I remedy that by using an extremely wet ink. Bungubox First Love Sapphire is an absolute favorite of mine. It looks work appropriate, whatever that means. Nobody sees the writing that I do, but if my handwritten notes do actually make their way to someone else, they won’t recoil in horror over my ink color choice.
This is the Goldilocks of pen sizes for me. It’s large but doesn’t feel unwieldy. The green stripes are interesting, but it still doesn’t look out of place in an office setting. It sports the best fit and finish of any pen that I own. If you’re not a pen person, what I am about to say may sound ridiculous. I find myself capping and uncapping this pen constantly because the threads are insanely smooth. It also has the best looking nib in my collection. The intricate scroll work and classic logo stamped onto a bi-color nib just works for me. Hofkwartier Groen is a fresh, bright green that is almost always in one of my pens. I typically use it when making notes on documents because the green jumps off the page. A lot of people use red ink for this purpose, but I don’t like red ink. Green is my jam.
If you follow me on Instagram, and you absolutely should, you may have seen me post a picture of this pen & ink combo and note that it has the distinct honor of being the only pen/ink combo that requires me to take a breath when saying it out loud. The ink name is so long I can’t even remember what it’s called. I have to Google it any time that I need to write it out. What do I use it for? I don’t really know. It doesn’t get used a ton, but I love the way this pen looks and I think the ink pairs quite well with it. I think I’m going to have this nib ground to a cursive italic at the Atlanta Pen Show in April. It writes well. It’s actually the smoothest steel nib that I own but something about it just doesn’t butter my biscuit. It’s not exciting and that keeps me from using it more, which is a real shame. It’s an absolutely stunning pen and I want to use it more, but I need to have something done to the nib to get me excited about writing with it.
This is typically a rather wet writer and not really practical for note taking at work, but this Robert Oster Jade ink is a tad dry and tames this firehose of a nib enough for me to use at work. The nib is just springy enough to get some nice line variation if you push it. I rarely do push it though because I’m terrified to spring the tines. This is another one that I’m thinking about having some nib work performed on because the medium is so wet and wide that it borders on being too wide for my block letter writing. Thinking about going to an architect or cursive italic. I’m not completely sold on that idea though. It’s one of my best writers and I’m nervous about messing with it. I’d be super disappointed if I liked it less after having it modified.
If I could only own one pen for the rest of my life (what an absurd proposition, by the way) it would be the 823. The amber color can be polarizing, but I fall squarely in the “love it” camp. It has a subtle elegance to it that makes me feel more regal than I should. The vacuum filler is exciting to use and holds a ton of ink. Seriously, it can be a little annoying for someone like me who has been known to change inks multiple times during one day. I’m getting better, I promise. The most important aspect of any pen is the nib and the Custom 823 excels in this arena. This is the best nib that I have ever used, hands down. It’s glassy smooth, like rolling a marble across a pane of glass that has been drenched in hot, melted butter. It’s a bit too wet of a writer for me to use at work jotting down notes. I find myself using it more for letter writing, journaling, and doodling. It’s so good that I would actually buy a second one, though I want one of the clear ones and with a fine nib. Unfortunately, those are difficult to find. Also, this pen/ink combo is as good as it gets. It matches perfectly and I rarely have anything but KWZ Honey in this pen.
This pen is always clipped to the front cover of whatever Field Notes I happen to be using. It works great in Field Notes where my fountain pens bleed through. I also carry it because I know it will work on whatever I happen to be writing on during the day. Remember that slick receipt paper I mentioned earlier? It’s no match for one of these. It also has the added benefit of containing an archival ink, so whatever I write won’t fade or wash away. Not sure if that’s a positive for me or not. Trying to picture someone 30 years from now reading all the nonsense in my Field Notes. The 05 size corresponds to 0.45mm which is a pretty middle of the road size. I think I actually prefer the 0.35mm, but I haven’t been able to find that size in orange. This ink is my perfect orange ink color. It’s super bright and pops off the page. I’ve been trying to find a similar color fountain pen ink and haven’t found anything I’m falling in love with yet. Iroshizuku Yu-yake is close. I have a bottle of Sailor Apricot on the way that I have high hopes for.
My recent foray into woodcase pencils has been a surprise to me. I hadn’t used a woodcase pencil since the last time I anxiously bubbled in a Scantron during a test I didn’t study for enough. My pencil revival was born out of a search for something that wrote well in Field Notes because they don’t handle fountain pens all that great. Enter Blackwing. The MMX has a very soft core that lays down a silky, black line but requires frequent sharpening. This doesn’t bother me because most of my writing with the MMX is done in my Field Notes and is typically a quick note here and there throughout the day. If I was doing more prolonged writing, I might opt for a firmer core. It doesn’t hurt that it’s matte black and fits in right alongside some of my favorite fountain pens.
Mitsubishi Uni Star 2B
The Uni Star is relatively new to me, but I’m taking a liking to it already. It’s still relatively soft at 2B but has better point retention that the Blackwing. Again, point retention isn’t a huge deal for me, but it is nice to be able to go a little longer without sharpening. It also looks amazing. I love the red (ish?) lacquer and gold lettering.
I hope you enjoyed this. This sort of post has always been one of my favorites. I think a lot us are curious about what people are using on a day to day basis. Heck, one of my favorite posts every week is The Pen Addict’s Tuesday Toolset where Brad Dowdy shows what cool stuff he’s toting around with him that week. If you did like the article and would like to see something like this again in the future, click that like button below. I’d also love to know what you’ve been writing with lately. Leave a comment, send me an e-mail, or head on over to Instagram and chat with me there. Thanks!