The Quest for the Perfect Pen

For years my favorite pen has been a Uniball Signo DX in .38mm. I have it in a rainbow of colors and it’s glorious. It’s precise, doesn’t smear, and doesn’t do that annoying blob of ink thing some pens do. Here’s an example of writing long-form with it. Ignore my chicken-scratch handwriting and the rough draft nature of the content. :)

Signo DX Example

But, in a case of putting the cart waaaaay before the horse, I decided maybe I should start thinking about a pen that would also be good for signing books. After all, it’s only nine-ish months until Polaris Rising comes out, barring any schedule changes, and at least one of my friends will want their book signed, right? Right? Hello?

And possibly because I like nothing more than procrastination. :)

So I set out on a quest to find the perfect pen. It’s more difficult than you’d think. I wanted a pen that flowed nicely across the page without flowing so nicely that it made a inky mess. A fun ink color like purple would be ideal and the ink needed to dry quickly. And most importantly, the pen had to feel good in the hand.

Pen examples

Behold my top contenders. Oh yeah, there were more than this. I don’t do quests halfway, friends. I am an Olympic gold medal procrastinator.

Overall, I liked the .5mm pens more than the .7mm. The ink flowed a little too freely in .7, which made them a dream to write with, but it also made my handwriting even more difficult to read.

The PaperMate InkJoy gel and the Pentel EnerGel were very, very close. I liked the purple of the InkJoy better (it’s subtler), so that edged it ahead. Unfortunately, that purple in .5mm is only available in a multi-pen pack with other colors that are not purple, and I don’t need more pens. Boo!

For the pen body, I bought an EnerGel Style, a nicely weighted metal pen which the internet seems to think doesn’t exist. Staples, where I bought it, doesn’t list it on their site, and neither does Pentel. Come on, people. Jetpens has the Philography edition, which is a more expensive version of the same body with smaller .5mm ink.

The pen body accepts InkJoy ink as well as Uniball refills, so I swapped in the purple .7 InkJoy ink until I decide what to do about acquiring the .5. For now, all of my notes are very bold and slightly hard to read. But it sure feels nice while writing them. :)

Note: I linked to pens that were close to what I bought, but I recommend a trip to your local office supply store. Because who doesn’t love office supplies?

29 Replies to “The Quest for the Perfect Pen”

  1. ooooh I have to share the world of FOUNTAIN PENS with you!!! If you go on jetpens though (love them!!) maybe you’ve already seen them and not interested, but I adore them. If you’re curious, you should check out for all about getting started with fountain pens, great first pen is the LAMY safari or AL-star (aluminum so bit heavier) and takes cartridges which would be easier at signings :D Just had to share my pen nerd love lol

    1. I’ve heard lots of people rave about fountain pens, but I’ve never tried one. All that liquid ink makes me nervous, though, as you said, cartridges are a thing.

      I maaaay have popped over to Goulet Pens and drooled over them. They just look so elegant! I might have to give it a shot. Thanks for the recommendations!

  2. The only thing with fountain pens is the ink takes some time to dry — otherwise, they are lovely to write with.

    And there’s nothing like a good feeling, well writing pen!!

  3. Of course we want autographed copies!

    (Your handwriting is an exact duplicate of one of my best friend’s. If I had seen the samples you provided without knowing who wrote them, I’d have thought they were from her.)

    Me lurves pens (well, anything stationery related). For ballpoint pens, my favorites are Uniball and Pentel. I confess to a preference for fine points, but that’s because I have small, spindly writing. Fountain pens are fantastic, but finding a great nib can sometimes be an issue, regardless of whether you use cartridges or bottles.

    One of my favorite retailers for fountain pens and ink is (—REFILLS-8.aspx?CategoryID=8&pageID=151). They have beautiful bottled ink colors you can buy singly or in a mixed pack of 6, or in cartridges (different boxed quantities) ( There used to be 12 vibrant color choices, but they’ve pared down on these in recent years.

    1. OMG, so pretty and so expensive. I have to back away slowly before I accidentally end up with one in my cart.

      As for my handwriting, I settled into this sort of connected print in college thanks to taking notes as fast as possible, then it just stuck. Glad to know I’m not the only one who writes this way!

  4. I want a signed copy!

    And now I also want to go on a hunt for the perfect pen – smooth, precise writing with a good feel in the hand, and quick-drying ink ❤️❤️

  5. I would love a signed book, but I am up in Alberta, Canada, and never get to a book signing event.
    Every time I find a wonderful pen I lose it, and I never remember to write down what kind it is!
    P.S. the snippet you let us see is so intriguing! More please!

    1. The snippet is from an urban fantasy novel. It needs a complete rework, so it’s on the back burner for now while I focus on scifi, but eventually I plan to self-pub it!

  6. D’oh! Naturally I forgot to comment on the snippet. It definitely looks intriguing (thrills! chills! mad skills! mebbe some kills?).

  7. I am being completely objective when I say that I think it would be totally fair for those folks who were the first among your fans to regularly visit your blog. Just saying. ?

  8. Oooh I want a signed copy!
    I obsess over pens, so reading this makes me feel less like a weird person. The hunt continues, and look at fountain pens.
    Thank you!

  9. You all are the best! When the time comes, I’ll see if I can work something out with a local bookstore so you can order signed books. A real use for my new pen!

    And, of course, blog/newsletter/etc followers will have a chance to win a signed copy first. :) I’m just glad you all are excited!

  10. Still hunting for the perfect fountain pen though I used them extensively at school in a variety of colours- my favourite was turquoise and I don’t think we had gell pens then- biro, ballpoint or fountain! Definitely recommend trying them though- I used to love Parker and they’re still quite high on my list.

    Oh and yes please to the signed copies – I’m UK based and couldn’t make Nalini Singh’s visit- gutted! I live in hope that one day Ilona and Gordon Andrews, Grace Draven, Jim Butcher and your glorious self of course will visit Blighty!!

  11. I lovity love love the Inkjoy 0.7mm! It writes so smoothly, gliding over the paper with never a glop! The Inkjoy is what ended my decade-long relationship with the Energel. I have at least 4 different colors on me at all times.

    For bold and quick signatures, wouldn’t the 0.7mm work?

    No idea if you’re a notebook junkie as well, but if you are, the paper in the Muji ‘high quality paper’ notebooks have fabulously smooth paper and together with an Inkjoy they make writing dreaaaaammmmy:

    Anyway, good luck and congratulations and can’t wait for the book release date!

    1. For signatures only, the .7 would work well, but often books are personalized with a name and little note (at least the ones I’ve had signed have been). For actual writing, I find the .7 is a little too bold for my script.

      And notebooks are my kryptonite. I’m not even clicking on that link because one or two or twelve will jump in my cart. Much like pens, I love notebooks and I already have too many. :)

      Okay, I totally lied and clicked on the link. Must. Resist.

      1. Ha! Serves you right, trying to tempt me into buying more pens. :) Didn’t you see how many were in that picture? And that’s not even all of them…

        1. Yeeessss… but they come in pretty fashion colors. I will not go to the notebook link, no no no no no. I just finished unloading a kazillion pens out of my purse too. And my desk drawer at work has one or two (dozen) pens lurking, but those are workhorse pens, not pleasure pens. I might have to start back sending notecards out via snail mail again, just to use pens. *sigh*. And now I will have to think about cruising the post offices looking for ones that actually have pretty stamps in stock. It is a never ending cycle

          1. While I’m acting as the voice of stationary temptation… you know you can order stamps online directly from the post office, and that way you can choose from dozens of gorgeous stamp designs? There’s a $2 delivery charge, but to me it’s totally worth it to not stand in the long line at the post office and then get up there and they have nothing but flags and sad clown stamps.

  12. That post was amazing haha, it’s you loving pens and telling us about it, I like pens and office supplies too haha
    Those kinds of little post makes you “closer”, in general the authors seem so “far away” from us, that’s why I really like your blog and the little posts that let us know you !
    PS: if I could I’d definitly get your signed haha

  13. If I were anywhere near a book signing location, I would love one signed. Alas, no one ever comes to South Dakota. (Ok, actually, thousands of people come for vacation every year – with Mt Rushmore, Crazy House, Sturgis Rally, and all – but no one comes for book signings, etc. However, if you ever come, I’d happily play tour guide.)

    So glad to see so many others obsess over pens too! I’m a teacher, and still haven’t found the perfect pen. I like the smooth fine tips, and have recently become a huge fan of multi color options. Red, black, and blue get so boring when you’re grading and commenting on hundreds of papers. I’ll be checking out some of these good suggestions. Thanks!

    1. I’ve been to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Sturgis (though not for the rally). South Dakota is beautiful!

      And I’m totally with you on the interesting pen colors. The turquoise Signo DX (top of the second pic) is one of my favorites.

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