I've Found My Perfect Pen!

Which are the best? Which are the worst? Let's argue!

Last week I was writing in my journal with my Pilot G2 07 and right in the middle of a delicious rant the ink ran out. No warning, it just quit. So I grabbed what I thought was another one, but it turned out to be something else. Something wonderful. Something I’d been waiting my entire life to find.

And it was right under my nose.

It’s a PaperMate Gel 0.7. My dream pen! For now! And I found I can buy two of them at Dollar Tree for the low, low price of one dollar. Fifty cents each! (Not that you couldn’t figure that out for yourselves.) I’m going to buy dozens of them in case they stop making them and I’m left high and dry with those inferior imposters.

Here’s what I love about it: It fits my hand perfectly. It has a little rubber thingy to protect the first knuckle of my middle finger. It’s lightweight. So yes, it’s like so many other pens out there. But here comes the best part:

The roller ball rolls that ink out with so smooth a flow it’s as if it can predict what I’m about to write and it’s way ahead of me. Going there. Doing the job.

I’ve given it a lot of thought (yes, I’ve had the time…) and if there’s science behind it, this must be it: It performs so well I don’t have to think about the mechanics. This pen becomes an extension of my fingers, and, just as I don’t have to think about my fingers as I write, now I don’t have to think about my pen.

It isn’t so magical that it’ll never run out of ink, but since I’m preparing for every emergency (see plan above), I’ll never run out of PaperMate Gel 07s, either.

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In 2018 New York Magazine put out a list of the 100 best pens, and for a while there it was the talk of Facebook—at least in my little corner. Everyone had their favorites and they’d fight to the death, if need be, to defend them. Mine at the time was a skinny little felt-tip called ‘Le Pen’ that comes in a multitude of colors and that I could only find at BooksAMillion, making the quest for them part of their appeal, since I could only ever find a BooksAMillion in the South Carolina low country, a thousand miles from home.

I found over time, however, that, as cute as it is, and as much fun as it it to write short notes in technicolor, it sucked as a work pen. I was always conscious of how thin it was, and how it dragged over the paper, and after awhile it brought actual pain to what was already a painful exercise—the actual act of writing to be read.

But now New York Mag’s The Strategist has come out with a much shorter list of favorite pens—22 of them this time—and I’m trying hard not to agonize over my decision to stick with this new pen I’ve now deemed my very, very favorite.

I used to have a thing for fountain pens, too, but that was a long time ago. I could find inexpensive pens and ink cartridges at every big box store, and then I couldn’t, so I gave up on them. Now this Best Pens list has an offer I may not be able to refuse. A disposable fountain pen for two dollars! $24 for 12 of them! Do I need them? You know I don’t. Nobody does. Do I covet them? More than is even reasonable.

I have this thing for office supplies. It started when stores like Office Max and Office Depot and Staples opened their doors to ordinary people like me and let me roam their aisles, picking up things like a hundred manila file folders for $6 and paper by the ream for $2.99 and pens by the gross for 99 cents, giving me the joy of turning an extra bedroom into a real, working home office.

My first love is paper products—I could fill an entire storage unit with diaries and journals and notebooks alone—but I can still get giddy over pens and pencils and markers, both permanent and wipe-offs.

So let’s talk about pens this time. Do you have a favorite? If so, why? If not, then okay. You can just make fun of the rest of us.


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