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Your Favorite Authors’ Favorite Pens

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Alex Luppens-Dale


Alex Luppens-Dale won the “Enthusiastic Reader Award” all four years of high school. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Her favorite genres are memoir, witches, and anything with cults. She lives in New Jersey. You can keep up with Alex's latest work at her website.

If you think of yourself as a writer, chances are you’re going to have more blank notebooks than you can fill in a lifetime, a grudge against at least one stationery store, and a ton of pens. This goes double if you are a writer who has ever tried to get into something like bullet journaling. While most of our favorite writers are not influencers per se, it is sometimes fun to bring a little something from their working lives into our own. No one believes, or no one would admit to believing, that this will actually have any real effect on your own writing except, perhaps, to get you to sit down and face it more often. Isn’t that why we really hoard office supplies?

I can already tell that working on this article is going to be dangerous for my office supply budget, which isn’t so much a number as it’s the idea that I should absolutely not buy any more office supplies. The spinning pen caddy I was influenced to buy by the women of The Home Edit will not fit any more writing implements and retain its structure.

Before we begin, I would like to note that the information is not as diverse as I would like it to be. It is very easy to find Neil Gaiman’s favorite pen (Gaiman has been active on Tumblr for so long that I could probably find his favorite brand of toothpaste if I wanted to), but there is an issue of who is often granted interviews at that kind of length. Whose writing tools get to become “legendary” in the same way as Virginia Woolf’s purple ink?

Let’s dive into the goods here, shall we? Here are some of your favorite authors’ favorite pens.

Four Parker Jotter ballpoint pens in yellow, magenta, blue, and green.

This was a bit trickier than I thought it was going to be because the search feature on the platform currently referred to as X is a disaster. I know that an author I really like once recommended these ParkerJotter pens that I am obsessed with, but I can’t provide attribution, and I do not want to put words into her mouth. They’re really good pens, though, and they come in such nice bright colors and in either black or blue ink. They have to be someone else’s favorite pen, too. $16.

Stabilo Fineliner pens in a variety of colors.

As a faithful listener of the Says Who podcast, I have probably listened to Truly Devious author Maureen Johnson talk about office supplies for dozens of hours over the last six years with zero regrets. These Stabilo fineliner pens were prominent on her Instagram. $20.00

Aurora 88 fountain pen with a black body and chrome details.

Neil Gaiman is famously a fountain pen guy and has spoken about them in multiple interviews, including the Aurora 88. Aurora pens are pricey. A good beginner fountain pen, according to JetPens (another favorite website of mine), is the Pilot Metropolitan. $550.

A jar of Pelikan brand purple ink.

There is a really fancy fountain pen named after Virginia Woolf, who famously also signed books in purple ink. Here’s some purple ink if you want to get your Woolf on but want to use a fountain pen you already own that didn’t cost more than rent in some cities. $7.

In a 1993 interview with The Paris Review, Toni Morrison stated that she preferred to write with good quality #2 pencils. $5 for 12.

A Waterman fountain pen in a gift box.

Stephen King has used a Waterman Hémisphère Fountain Pen, which he references in the acknowledgments of Dreamcatcher. Writing by hand helped King complete the novel following the accident that almost took his life in 1999. $75.

A Pilot G2-07 pen and its display box.

Many writers, including Eileen Myles and Gillian Flynn, prefer the simplicity of a Pilot G2. $12.

A LAMY ballpoint pen.

Margaret Atwood has stated that she takes pencils along for flights because pens break and leak. She has also recommended LAMY ballpoint pens. $14.

On the subject of pens and Margaret Atwood, did you know that she is also the patent holder for the LongPen remote signing device?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip through, potentially, some of your favorite writers’ toolkits. I started out writing this believing that fountain pens, while cool, were decidedly not for me, and now I am starting to have second thoughts. What’s just one more new pen, really? Maybe this will be just the thing to help me finish that project I’ve been sitting on. It worked for Stephen King, right?