I personally love using the keyboard (especially since my handwriting pretty much sucks).  But there is a certain magic in writing with a pen that allows us more freedom to express ourselves.  That’s probably why most writing exercises (especially the freewriting ones) will advise you to write with pen and paper. Most journals are done by hand for this same reason—and because pen and paper is more easily accessible than a laptop.

Journaling or creative writing should be a pleasurable experience—one that you’d like to do over and over again so that you can grow your writing skills.

And writing by hand can be fun—especially if you have the right tools. I’ve already shared with you some things to consider when choosing the write creative writing journal or notebook.

Now I’ll share some factors to consider when choosing the right pen for your creative writing endeavors.



If you write often and a lot, you might want to consider a lighter pen versus a heavier one.  If you have a stronger grip, heavier steel/brass barrelled pens might also be best for you.



Benchmade Tactical Pen from Knifecenter.com




Do you prefer a thicker or thinner pen? I personally enjoy thicker pens because the solid feeling they have in my hands allows me more freedom to doodle or write in my journal.

alibi fountain pen


Alibi Fountain Pen, from Dannzeman.com


Thinner pens are great for lugging around, but may be more taxing to write with for a longer period of time.



HP Ipaq Stylus and pen from mrgadget.com



Likewise, shorter pens are portable and will easily fit in the spiral of smaller notebooks or notepads. But they are harder to control and will become more tedious to write with, if you’re writing for a long time.

Lanyard Pens_ Short pens_ mini pens_Ballpoint Pens_HSHC5016C


Short lanyard pens from scrollpen.net


Longer pens are more comfortable in the long run.

archi-long-pen modified


Archi long pens from lexon-design-store.com



You can choose the appearance, material, and finish you like for your pens.  Some plastic and metal pens feel smoother to the touch, while others may have a slight texture to help with the grip. Of course, pens come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes as well. Choose the one that suits not only your needs, but your personality.



Geeky pen designs from walyou.com


Taking time to pick a special pen for your journal/creative writing notebook might motivate you to likewise spend more time using the pen, and writing.

 food pen 1


Food pens from spiralcircle.com


Ink Type

Ballpoint ink comes in a variety of colors and writes smoothly on most types of papers, and is the fastest drying among all inks.  Most of the colored dyes used in ballpoints may fade with time and if exposed too much to light.

papermate flexigrip


Papermate Flexigrip pen from Staples.com


Water based ink used in some rollerball pens and fountain pens are a thinner liquid and thus might not do too well on glossy surfaces or coated paper. These are fun to use for calligraphy or for fine writing, however and can readily be used if your journal has thick, textured paper.

the-sharpie-pen-fine-point modified


Sharpie pens from officesupplygeek.com


Gel Ink is fast becoming a favorite for many writers. It might take time to try, depending on the type of paper you’re writing on, but it’s waterproof and lightfast. Most gel inks are acid-free, as well, which means they are archival quality and keep for a long, long time.

gel pen


Gel pens from doesthispenwrite.wordpress.com


Ink Color

Many writers prefer the usual black or blue ink, since we’re used to seeing this color on paper everywhere. However, there are also creative types who prefer to write with their favorite colors.

There are tons of color choices out there and you can choose one color for each type of writing you do.

I find that purple and green inked pens are becoming quite popular for editing and proofreading, instead of the usual red.



This is the final thing to consider when choosing a pen for your writing, but it’s also one of the most important ones.

If you’re the type to easily lose or misplace pens, it might be safer to buy cheaper or mid-priced ones. But buying more expensive pens may also work in your advantage. If you know how much money you spent on these pens, you might take better care of it.

The good thing about buying pricier pens is that you get what you pay for. These high end pens will deliver on quality and design and may last longer than their cheaper cousins. They also might have the option of being refillable, which means that after your initial pricey purchase, you can save by buying refills. (Assuming you don’t lose the pen, of course :) )



Montblanc 100 Years Solitaire rare blue diamond  pen


These are just some of the things to consider when choosing a pen specifically for creative writing purposes.

If you want a more in depth post on pens, read Arkanabar ‘s  AWESOME article on Selecting a Writing Instrument. Arkanabar is a pen enthusiast and has even compiled a list of links to other Pen Enthusiasts, Manufacturers and Retailers.

My personal favorite is the Pentel Energel Retractable pen series. They come in both .5 mm and .7mm.  I use these thicker .5mm for writing in my journal or freewriting.

energel pens modified


Energel pens, from daviswebtech.com


I also use the purple Energel pen for some of my editing work.


Lately though, I’ve been addicted to the blue Energel .7mm pen. I’ve been using for editing, as well as for writing in my calendars and lists.


So what’s your favorite pen? Do you have a specific pen for each specific task?

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20 Responses to “Choosing a Writing Instrument for Your Creative Writing Exercises/Journals”

  1. M.J. Fifield says:

    I love the Sharpie pens so, so much. My current favorite pen is the Pilot G-2 clicky top, in purple or aqua. But it rotates. One day soon, that pen won’t feel right in my hand and I’ll have to find one that does.

    Love this post!

  2. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell .. I have to use a papermate click/non-stop pencil for any notes I write out – really can’t deal with biros, or pencils, or pens … occasionally I’ll use colours etc … mostly it’s draft and then transcribe to Word …

    Did you see Elizabeth Spann Craig’s latest post re Dragon and Dictaphones ..

    Interesting how we all have our own little ways of achieving our stories ..

    Cheers Hilary

  3. Sia McKye says:

    I have large hands so I always use a thicker sized pen with a gripping pad on them. It makes it easier for me to write extended periods. One of my favorites is a Bic Velocity Gel. Light but no skipping. I also have several lead pencil that are thicker which I use–trust me, I have an extra eraser, too.

  4. I like the ones with the rubber grip near the tip.

  5. Shelly says:

    I prefer the Bic pen to all other pens. Its light weight and easy for me to hold.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  6. Honestly, I have tried all kinds of pens with my journaling hobby–colored Sharpie gel pens, ballpoints in different colors, Pilot G2 in different colors–I just end up with bleeding pages. Maybe I should’ve searched for the correct journal pages first before I did the choosing of pens. LOL However, I discovered I love the mechanical pencil that I’m presently using. It’s a Pentel 0.9 thick lead mechanical pencil. It doesn’t bleed, and I could easily erase some of what I’ve written if I discovered something’s amiss. I know I shouldn’t be using pencil, but the 0.9 thickness of the lead makes it look like a black ink. So far, it hasn’t disappeared. Maybe, I should research for better quality journal now. LOL

  7. Since my story is about a girl and her pen, I love this post. Must… resist… the urge to… check out all… the other links…

  8. tcavey says:

    You put a lot of thought into this! I’ve never given pens much thought before, but now that I think about it, there are time I like certain pens for certain tasks (I use a different pen to write bills than I do to write in a scrap book).

  9. I got a boxed set for my birthday last month, and I’m not sure of the brand, but I love the pen. So smooth. I’m sure I’ll have it used up in less than a month.

  10. mooderino says:

    I use a Japanese pen (only 2 bucks) that writes upside down. The reason is because then I can write in bed while lying on my back. The pen also writes underwater but I’ve never had a chance to use it in that fashion.

  11. I’m dizzy with all these possibilities! However, I’m definitely a keyboard kind of writer. I make notes with pens and pencils (love mechanical ones), but I writer with my keyboard.

  12. Jay Noel says:

    I’m really picky about my pens too. Overall, I like heavy metal pens where the ink flows freely. I’m also a fan of the pens with the squishy grip and gel ink. Love ’em!

  13. Hi, nutshell,

    LOVE all the cool pens. I have quite the collection and I’d have a hard time trying to pick my favorite.

    The ones I use the most are by Levinger. Nice weigh and fantastic design.

  14. Julie Luek says:

    I used to go for pretty journals and ink gels of various colors. Now, I head to the back-to-school supply sales at discount stores and stock up on Composition books for under $1 and big packs of Bic pens. Stocked and ready to write.

    I too have lousy handwriting, not at all the pretty “girl” print I always wanted. For some reason, I have a heck of a time freewriting and journaling.

  15. Southpaw says:

    I love the pens I get from the dentist office (they give them out along with a new toothbrush). I know that’s weird, but they just glide across the paper.

  16. Cherie Reich says:

    I definitely prefer lighter weighted pens than heavier ones. I still prefer typing than writing by longhand. I do like different color pens, though. :)

  17. I can’t stand short pens.

    I have all sorts of pens, but I like the basic Bic pen. I also adore colorful gel pens.

  18. Lisa says:

    I love using pens of unusual colors, most recently I have been obsessed with an orange pen, but I find it is most important to have a pen that glides easily across the paper. It makes writing so much more pleasurable.

  19. Elisa says:

    For editing I love my pink or purple Precise V5
    For writing I just like an ink that flows well, often a Bic pen, those were my fav, the blue with the removable cap…The gel pens get honked up sometimes, super annoying.
    I also find if I handwrite I sometimes get caught up in how I am writing (I loved my grandma’s handwriting and I try to create her shape and style) more than what I am writing. oops.

  20. Arkanabar says:

    Thanks for the link. I’m afraid I haven’t updated the links section of that site in many years. But if you’re looking for an entry-level fountain pen, suitable online vendors include (no relationshiip beyond considering purchases) hisnibs.com, isellpens.com, and Goulet Pens (http://www.gouletpens.com/default.asp ). Be willing to fiddle with different inks and types of paper.

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