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Are Fountain Pens Easy to Use?

If you’ve never used a fountain pen before, and you like the idea of using one, but you’re concerned they might be too much of a hassle to be worth it, this article is for you.

Let’s start with the super-short version. To get an idea if a fountain pen would suit you, with no risk or mess, just grab yourself a disposable fountain pen, like the popular Pilot VPen (sometimes known as the V4). Because it’s a simple disposable pen, there’s nothing to do with it other than take off the cap and use it, just like a rollerball or ballpoint pen. When it runs out of ink, you throw it away.

A Pilot VPen disposable fountain pen

A disposable pen isn’t really in the spirit of a fountain pen, but it’s a great way to see what the fuss is about, and find out if you enjoy using one. If you do, you’ll probably want to move on to something else after a while.

Why to Try

But why might you want to try using a fountain pen in the first place? Why not just stick with ballpoints or rollerballs? If you’re reading this, you probably already have your own ideas about why, but we think there are two main reasons to consider fountain pens:

  • They’re more economical, and better for the environment. Even if you use refills, each refill is a precision-manufactured item, and gets thrown away when you’re done with it. Fountain pens can use cartridges, which are simpler and smaller; or they can use bottled ink, where the bottle can be recycled when you finish it, and that can take a while!
  • Most people find them nicer to write with - they’re smoother, requiring little to no pressure; and with the huge variety of pens available, they can feel more personal to you. Even the huge choice of inks available can make the writing experience feel more you.

A white Lamy Safari fountain penWhat’s Next?

If you tried a disposable and liked it, what’s next? There are plenty of popular fountain pens at low prices that are great for anyone wanting to take the next step. There are lots of expensive pens too, but we’d recommend starting with something reasonable for a while, to make sure you get on with it in the longer term. And you may never need anything else - a reasonably-priced refillable pen like the Lamy Safari, for example, can easily last a lifetime.

And yes, they're easy to use - using cartridges is no harder than putting a refill in a ballpoint or rollerball pen. There's a little more to using a converter for bottled ink, but it's still fairly easy to do. You might get a little ink on your fingers, but most ink washes off reasonably easily, or you can consider it a little badge of honour.