Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook | The Well-Appointed Desk

Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook | The Well-Appointed Desk

I have something so much better, at least in my humble opinion. I use a sheet of lined paper that I tuck under my blank page to create perfectly straight lines that are there. But not. Using a guide sheet does not require any prep time. Just slide the sheet behind your current page and start writing.

Great tip from Ana. But, where does one get such a sheet?

I have created lined paper guides in 6mm, 7mm, 8mm and 10mm spacing. Each .pdf file includes a full 8.5×11 US Letter sized guide and a smaller 5×7″ guide that you can trim to fit in the average A5-sized notebook. Print out your favorite line width spacing on a laser or ink jet printer. One copy of the guide sheet can be kept in each of your favorite notebooks and should last for a long time. The guide sheet often doubles as a blotter sheet, pen primer or to protect the next sheet from pesky bleed through.

Boom! Downloadable PDFs. So helpful, that lady.

Starter Pencil Setups #PencilWeek #Erasable | Pen Paper Ink LetterPen Paper Ink Letter

Starter Pencil Setups #PencilWeek #Erasable | Pen Paper Ink LetterPen Paper Ink Letter

That’s why unlike, say, a coffee starter kit, a pencil primer shouldn’t be based on accessibility but rather, price, assortment and application. A writer who wants to invest a lot of money up front in pencils has totally different needs than, for example, a sketch artist on a budget. If you fit into one of these use cases, or somewhere in between, hopefully you can get some use out of this post.

I’m not a pencil guy but I’m always interested in learning new things. This seems like a good primer to get started.

Fountain Pen Guide For The Left-Handed Writer

by Ana Reinert

Left-handed writers face some challenges when writing, but I don’t think fountain pens make it worse. If anything, I’ve found that my handwriting looks better and I have less issues with smudging when I use fountain pens. There are lots of factors that can affect how a fountain pen performs for a left-handed writer but any lefty can use a fountain pen.

First, I want to dispel any notion that left-handed writers need a special nib or brand of fountain pen. Totally UNTRUE. I have used dozens of fountain pens, from as many brands, and they all write for me with no real issues other than purely aesthetic one.

The big issues for lefties being stem from the fact that we write from left to right, often dragging our hand through what we have just written. Some lefties compensate for this by trying to angle their hand above the line they are writing, often called overwriters or “writing with a hook” (I fall into this camp). The other method is to write below the line, mirroring our right-handed friends, which is referred to as “underwriting.” Often times, underwriters have fewer issues adapting to fountain pens than overwriters.

Both writing styles tend to put the writing hand into the fresh ink the moment a word is written. So, ink smear is a big concern. When choosing a fountain pen, consider whether you often smear your writing when using a ballpoint, rollerball or pencil. Does the ball of your hand often have telltale ink or graphite smudges? If so, then you will definitely want to consider a quick-drying ink like Noodler’s Bernake line. Also, a finer nibbed fountain pen might help since it will not lay down as much ink as a wider nib will. Paper selection will also play a role in how quickly ink will dry. Papers noted for their “fountain pen friendliness” are also notorious for taking longer for ink to dry since the ink sits up on the paper and does not soak in. That means your writing won’t feather or bleed until you stick your sleeve into it.

There is no one-way to eliminate the smearing issue but knowing what to troubleshoot can help. If you have dreams of using a broad stub nib on Tomoe River paper, you may want to invest heavily on quick-dry inks.

Because of the left-to-right motion when writing, left-handed writers are often pushing the pen rather than puling it. This can inhibit ink flow in some pens– fountain pen, ballpoint or otherwise. Very fine needle tip fountain pens, like the Japanese extra-fine nibs or custom “needle tip” grinds can be difficult for some lefties. If you prefer a super fine line, I recommend that you try a pen first, before buying it, and be sure to sit and write a sentence or two in your natural writing position to be sure you don’t have any issues with ink flow.

Ink flow problems can be exacerbated if you press down hard on your pen. All fountain pen users learn that a light touch (unless we are talking about flex nibs, but I’ll get into that in a minute) is best but its particularly true for lefties.

If you are hoping to use a broad calligraphy or stub nib, positioning of the pen on the paper may present some issues for some left-handed writers. I frequently use a 1.1mm stub nib and a smaller 0.6mm stub with no issues. For me, though, wider nibs are an issue as I have difficulty making consistent contact with the paper from my overhanded position. Partly this has to do with pushing the pen, rather than pulling so the ink does not flow as consistently. Also, the wide flat nib is difficult to keep in constant contact with the paper from the left-handed direction. And finally, because of the different angle to the paper, our approach to drawing each character and how we put the pen on the paper, the thicks and thins that become noticeable with a broad stub/italic nib might be in the opposite place. The best test for this is to grab a chisel-tip marker, like a highlighter, and try writing with it. If your writing looks strange, you may want to give the traditional wide stub/italic nibs a pass. If your writing looks okay some of the time, but at others, the pen doesn’t seem to be making consistent contact with the paper, you may be a good candidate for a custom ground stub/italic that is angled for a left-handed writer. A left-handed stub/italic nib will be tapered down to the left to make more consistent contact with the paper. These left-handed nibs won’t work for all left-handed writers as it depends entirely on your writing angle.

Flexible nibs can present a similar problem. Flex nibs are designed to create line variation as you write which works great if you are most often pulling the pen. If you are pushing the pen, the springy quality of the nib will not be on display. If you are a heavy handed writer, the flex in the nib will make it even easier to strangle the ink flow on up strokes which can potentially damage the nib but will, more often, cause the pen to splatter ink as it springs back. If flexible nibs are interesting to you, before investing in a Namiki Falcon or a vintage “Wet noodle”, I recommend experimenting with flexible dip nibs. A holder is usually about $5 and nibs are a couple dollars each and available at most art supply stores. Or an inexpensive flex nib like the Noodler’s Creaper/Ahab.

The last issue I want to address is the grip area on the pen. Often mentioned as a great “starter” fountain pen, the Lamy Safari/AL-Star features a molded plastic grip intended to help writers angle the nib properly. Most right handed folks love this because it makes it mostly foolproof. Left-handed writers are less enthusiastic about this pen because the “proper angle” can be less-than-perfect for some left-handed writers. Often, left-handed writers ignore the grip and hold the pen in such a way as to get the best and most consistent ink flow which means that the grip will cut into their middle finger or thumb. This is the only reason I don’t recommend the Lamy Safari/Al-Star as frequently as other bloggers. Lamy nibs are awesome and if you are ready to invest in a fountain pen over $50, I have plenty of Lamys I can recommend.

Retractable fountain pens like the Pilot Vanishing Point can also be less-than-comfortable for left-handed writers (and some right-handed writers, for that matter). In order to get the proper grip and angle on a retractable fountain pen, some left-handers have to grip over the clip which is not ideal.I prefer a consistent grip barrel, be it smooth or ridged, which allows me to twist or angle the pen as needed for the best writing results without poking my hand unnecessarily. Grip issues are not a make-or-break issue but for long term comfort, pens with molded grips or clips may not be your go-to favorites.

If you can, try to borrow or test drive a pen before you buy it. If that is not an option, find out what the company or web site’s return policy is. If they will not accept a pen return if its been inked up, try dipping the pen in water to get a feel for how it writes.

I hope this helps. More than anything I hope more left-handed writers feel like fountain pens can be an option for them as much as anyone. If you have more questions, please feel free to email me directly or contact me on Twitter or App.net


Ana Reinert is The Chair at The Well-Appointed Desk, a blog dedicated to paper, pens, office supplies and a beautiful place to work. To the pay the bills, she works in a beige cubicle at Hallmark Cards designing greeting cards and drawing typefaces and lettering, dreaming of a better workspace

Low-tech Skilcraft pens endure in a high-tech world

Low-tech Skilcraft pens endure in a high-tech world

For more than 40 years, standard black pens have cluttered the desks of thousands of federal employees, hung on a chain at post offices across the country and slipped into the pockets of countless military personnel. Yet few have realized that this government-issue pen has a history to rival that of any monument.

Absolutely fascinating. I had no idea. Now I want to get my hands on some of these pens. Need to talk to some friends in Dot-Gov.

Taking note: Some Criteria for Buying a Fountain Pen

Taking note: Some Criteria for Buying a Fountain Pen

What would be some of the criteria you should employ? Well, it seems to me that they should (i) either be piston fillers that draw ink from an inkwell, or fountain pens that allow you to use a converter. The first are few and far between nowadays, the second are plentiful. Almost every fountain pen that uses a cartridge can also use a converter. And (iii) it should be a fountain pen that allows you to change the nib or nib section easily and without any fuss, so that you are not stuck with the nib you with which you bought the pen.

On that last item, some very good suggestions are made. Worth checking out. Especially if you are new to the world of fountain pens.

Record, Don’t Recall

The trick to a daily diary is to “record, don’t recall”. You’ll forget things that you wanted to remember, so take notes and organize them later. That’s how I’ve managed to keep my diary going.

— Masazo Takenami, a man in his nineties who has kept a sketch diary for sixty years.

Talking About Tools – Chase McCoy

Talking About Tools – Chase McCoy

Are you using the best pen for you? What about the best notebook? I come at this from the perspective of a writer, but the tools are anything that helps you to do the work. Ignoring our tools will only do us a disservice. However, spending too much time evaluating them takes away from the work.

It’s a difficult balance to find. Heck, I had the perfect “inexpensive-yet-good always in my pocket don’t even have to think about it” pen up until a couple of weeks ago when I encountered something I like even more. The danger comes when you spend so much time always seeking something better, that you don’t settle on good enough and get to work.

BBC News – Writers’ notebooks: ‘A junkyard of the mind’

BBC News – Writers’ notebooks: ‘A junkyard of the mind’

A full notebook potentially contains the rest of your writing life. Or nothing of value at all. It is transitional. Work passes through it on the way to becoming something else.

I love everything about this essay by author Lawrence Norfolk. He really captures the spirit of the place that a notebook fills in the life of a writer.