Choosing a Writing Instrument for Your Creative Writing Exercises/Journals

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




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


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



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

Longer pens are more comfortable in the long run.

archi-long-pen modified

 Archi long pens from



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


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


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


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


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


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


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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One Response to “Choosing a Writing Instrument for Your Creative Writing Exercises/Journals”

  1. Teri says:

    Hi. I’m really glad I found your blog. I wrote everything down from your writing tools posts and went shopping (over a period of time I might add) to get all the supplies you mentioned were necessary to stock an office. My youngest son just moved out so I took over his room, painted it and made it into my new office. It is exclusively for writing. It looks so good and even peaceful. I found an L-shaped desk on craigslist and even bought a mechanical keyboard. Let the writing begin!

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