How To Write With A Fountain Pen

Everyone is different

In order to get the most comfortable and enjoyable experience out of writing with a fountain pen, there a few things to think about that will help, although if you are still comfortable writing with a grip that differs slightly from what is recommended, and you find that it is still writing smoothly and your hand is comfortable then don’t worry too much.

To don your cap or not

Whilst a lot of fountain pens that use plastic can feel a little lighter in the hand, the weight of the pen is still very important and you should figure out whether you prefer to write with the cap on the pen or off, typically the pen is designed to be balanced with the cap on but those with smaller hands may find it more comfortable to keep it off. The weight of the pen will also help the ink flow smoother and you should not have to press down hard with the pen at all.

 hand holding fountain pen correctly

Hitting the 'sweet spot'

To maximise your control over the pen, hold it between your thumb and index finger (on a number of pens such as the Safari, Al Star or Joy there are two facets on the grip that will help you place your fingers correctly), whilst resting the barrel on or just beyond of the last knuckle on your middle finger. Your ring and pinky finger should rest gently on the page and provide stability. Holding the pen at a 40 to 55 degree angle with the page should be the ‘sweet spot’ at which the tip of the nib will glide across the paper with ease. If the nib feels like it is scratching or skipping then you are probably not hitting this sweet spot, you may be holding the pen at the wrong angle or if your pen does not have grips and you are perhaps used to writing with pencils you might be rotating the pen without thinking.

 pen drawing line right

Hitting the sweet spot by holding the pen straight and at the correct angle.

pen tilted drawing wrong

Tilting the pen or pressing too hard will lead to uneven contact with the paper, preventing the ink from flowing smoothly.

Write with your arms

Lastly and most importantly as I learnt once I started to use a fountain pen regularly, you must not write with your fingers but rather with your arm. By keeping your hand still and controlling the pen by bending and flexing the fingers you will find writing a much more strenuous exercise on your hand. This will also mean that the pen’s elevation and rotation are changing constantly, which makes it impossible for you to stay in the pen’s sweet spot.

Instead, control your fountain pen with the lower arm, keeping the hand and wrist rigid. By using the much larger muscles in your arms, your hands and wrist will not get tired or sore as they often do from typing too much. This will also keep the elevation and rotation of the pen more constant, producing a much more fluid and consistent handwriting.

Have a look at our selection of fountain pens to find one that suits you in terms of weight and size, or if you liked the pen used in this demonstration head straight for the Lamy Vista. The ink used is the Monteverde ink cartridge in green on a Rhodia No. 19 dot grid pad.