How to Become a Pen Addict
Warning: Become a pen addict at your own risk (and I mean mostly to your wallet).
I am a relatively young pen addict in the grand scheme, and I have learned that my story is not unique. Most pen addicts with whom I have chatted have expressed a similar saga as their own. It all begins with just.. one.. pen.
Step One: research. Research for me began with a simple two-word Google search: "best pens." Little did I know that the first result would become one of my go-to resources during my pen journey (more on that in a few paragraphs). If you need a resource to start your journey into pens - fountain or otherwise - I highly recommend www.penaddict.com. The proprietor of this bloggy rabbit hole of goodness, the original Pen Addict, Mr. Brad Dowdy, and his band of great writers put out regular reviews of pens, inks, paper and other stationery products. The thousands of posts out on this blog can be overwhelming to a first-timer, so if you are looking at becoming a pen addict, I suggest simply starting with "The Top 5 Pens" page.
Step Two: have a budget. It is very easy to have wallet-shock just looking at some of the beautiful fountain pens in the world. Set a budget for your first pen up front, maybe it will be $20 or $100, whatever it is, there is probably a pen option for you. Goodness, even if you just want to try a fountain pen for the first time without committing hard, you can get a truly great intro pen for under $5. (Might I suggest the Platinum Preppy?)
Step Three: shop! Once you have your budget decided, head over to one of the great online retailers and look at your options. There are many really fine online retailers, my favorites include: www.penchalet.com, www.gouletpens.com, www.vanness1938.com, www.andersonpens.com, and www.jetpens.com. Take your pick and start scrolling through the options within your budget, keeping in mind Brad's Top 5 list. If you are daunted by simply scrolling through these retailers, I completely understand... I was! When I first entered the rabbit hole I simply took Brad's recommendation for the number one fountain pen under $50, the Pilot Metropolitan which comes in at $15.
I remember thinking "how on earth can I justify spending fifteen dollars on ONE pen?!?!" Trust me... this will pass.
Step Four: write with your pens! Once you have your first pen in hand, write with it! This is really the most important step in becoming a pen addict. The reason we are addicted to great pens is because it is great to write with them. (P.S. it helps to have great paper. I recommend Rhodia for starters.)
Step five: community. If you have stuck with it this far, then the next step might actually be the most important. Invest in the community! This is hard to explain. I truly did not understand this until attending my first pen show (more on that some other time). The people who consider themselves pen addicts are reason enough to become one yourself. As I mentioned, The Pen Addict Blog is a remarkable resource about pens, but Brad has so much more to offer than just his reviews. He is the host of a fantastic podcast aptly named... "The Pen Addict Podcast." Brad, along with his co-host Myke Hurley, have been recording this podcast since early 2012, and it is a remarkable show. I urge you, if you have any interest in becoming a pen addict, start at episode 1 (found on any podcast catchers, or at www.relay.fm/penaddict/1). Listening to this show has been akin to being in a college class about the world of pens. I have been binge-listening for the past five months and just crossed episode 200... only 57 to go until I am caught up! Surely, the only "down-side" of listening to this show in such a condensed amount of time are the dollars spent in that same short window... I warned you!
Step six: enjoy! These products are tools yes, but if you invest time and money into acquiring the best, you should enjoy them. Whatever your use case may be - note-taking, doodling, novel-writing - there should be some level of satisfaction that naturally comes from using these products. After all, this is what perpetuates the addiction. If you gain no inherent joy from this, no worries, you are probably more "normal" than I am! (But as my mom always says, "normal is just a setting on a dryer.") In this case, find some other hobby or interest that is equally as nerdy and equally as awesome, like magic, or tea, or sewing your own bowties!
P.S. If you are interested in other pen blogs, or pen reviewers, or stationary junkies, scroll through the "Pen Friends" page on The Pen Addict Blog. (But why isn't it called "Pen Pals"?) Some of my favorites here are The Well Appointed Desk, The Pen Habit, S.B.R.E. Brown, Gourmet Pens, The Gentleman Stationer, and The Clicky Post.
P.P.S. Once you have purchased a bunch of pens, you will need a place to store them, or a way to transport them with you everywhere you go. Might I suggest a case from Nock Co.?
This blog is in no way sponsored by any of the aforementioned retailers. My promotion of them is from a place of genuine appreciation of good business and great customer service.