This past week, we celebrated “National Handwriting Day” on January 23rd (John Hancock’s birthday). Unlike other unofficial “holidays” like National Coffee Day or National Ice Cream Day, it takes some advocacy to make the public aware that handwriting is still a common activity in the digital age.
As our society is quick to adopt digital tools to communicate and create, there are those of us who rediscovered peace, clarity, and focus in handwriting. Even influential, top-level achievers favor traditional pen and paper. Plus, studies show that handwriting is still better for learning, memory retention, and benefits your physical and mental health.
So, in the spirit of National Handwriting Day, this article equips pen enthusiasts with ways to spread the love of handwriting and “penable” people who might have never seen a fountain pen in their entire lives.
First, Are they Interested in Using Pens?
Identify the signs if the target individual is ready to be introduced to fountain pens. Do they:
- Show an interest in your pens?
- Compliment your handwriting or notetaking?
- Engage in creative activities like drawing or writing?
- Watch videos or follow social media accounts related to calligraphy and journaling?
- Enjoy back-to-school shopping or have an appreciation for office supplies?
- Have an appreciation for fine watches and accessories like knives, mechanical keyboards, lighters, wallets, etc.
I know that we pen addicts want everyone to get off their phones and join our ranks. But, we have to take a step back and remember that everyone is different. Some might find using a fountain pen a life-changing experience, while others might use it once and relegate it to the bottom of their bag.
Save yourself the awkwardness of gifting a pen to someone who will throw it in a drawer never to be seen by the light of day again. When you are looking to “penable” someone, apply the questions above. If there are more than two “yes” responses, then it’s a safe bet that they’ll appreciate being introduced to fountain pens.
Where Would a Fountain Pen Be Most Useful to Them?
Help guide the freshly minted pen enthusiast toward their first selection of pen, ink, and paper to start their journey. Imagine how will they use their first pen. Here are some examples:
- Time management, scheduling, planning, organization
- Journaling, introspection
- Art, calligraphy
- Storytelling, novel writing
- Documenting, idea capture
- Studying, notetaking
- Status symbol
The above is not a comprehensive list, but it should get you thinking about all the different types of fountain pens and their unique characteristics that fit their intended usage.
For example, artists and budding calligraphers might be more receptive to a Pilot Parallel with its broad-edge calligraphy applications than they would a round-nibbed Pilot Varsity.
If you’re looking to add to the EDC of an on-the-go outdoorsy type of person, then a pocket-friendly Kaweco Sport fountain pen with a spiralbound, reporter-style notepad would be more useful to them than a chunky Montblanc 149. On the other hand, someone who is looking to impress the other C-Suite executives at the meeting will want to take notes with the large and in-charge 149.
For general-purpose writing, studying, journaling, and planning, there are plenty of affordable options that are mentioned time and time again on blogs, videos, and discussion forums. Doing a quick “best starter fountain pens” search on the web will net all the most popular choices. One of the biggest bangs for your buck is the Platinum Preppy fountain pen, which is why we included it in the Starter Box along with a compatible converter so the new user could try their hand at filling from a bottle or ink sample.
Represent the Pen Community
If you were successful in stoking the person’s “penthusiasm,” congratulations! Job well done. But, your duty isn’t done yet. Don’t leave this newbie hanging with unanswered questions when you can easily help with your experience and knowledge. Just remember when you first explored fountain pens. What would you wish someone told you when you got started?
At the very least, help a new fountain pen user out by doing the following:
- Show them how to fill their pen for the first time.
- Show how it takes barely any pressure to write.
- Explain how to clean their pen.
If you can’t physically show this person how to fill and write with their pen, you can send them links to videos and resources on how to fill and clean their pen properly. Offer several websites and accounts to follow on social media that provide helpful fountain pen tutorials. If you have a favorite online forum where you like to chat with other pen enthusiasts, then send them an invite to join. You are a representative of the greater pen community. Welcome the newbie with open arms and show them why pen people are great people.
Thoughts on Loaning Pens to Newbies
Pen enthusiasts are so excited to share our passion that we sometimes do so to our detriment. One example is letting the inexperienced use our nicest fountain pens. We take it for granted that we know how to use a fountain pen properly - the way to hold it, how much pressure to put on the nib, and how to guide it along the page. There are plenty of people who have never seen a fountain pen in their lives, let alone write with one.
The danger in lending your pen to a newbie is receiving it back with a broken nib. Fountain pen nibs are extraordinarily delicate mechanisms that can bend out of shape if they are used improperly. And, if you have a soft gold nib, it might take even less pressure to splay the tines, resulting in a costly replacement nib or a trip to the nib doctor for repair.
If you must loan a pen, choose an inexpensive one with a steel nib that you don’t mind replacing just in case it does get messed up. Alternatively, you could have a bunch of inexpensive JinHaos, Preppies, or Varsities on hand to give away to people who express interest.
In conclusion, spreading the love of handwriting starts with showing the uninitiated how putting pen to paper will benefit their life in some tangible way. Get on their level and see where a fountain pen can increase the quality of their studies, work, well-being, etc. Make a great suggestion tailored to their interests and support them in getting started. Last, provide them with helpful resources to expand their knowledge and enjoyment of community with other like-minded people around the world.