TL; DR – Try a Pilot G2 ink gel pen, it’s awesome.

Writing has been around for over 5,000 years. The implements of the craft change throughout history, but the relatively recent practice of writing with ink on paper is not going to go the way of the rotary phone and film cameras any time soon.

In the digital, touchscreen world we are starved for the tactile, analog feedback of plying physical objects with the effort of our hands and minds into different objects – be it writing in a notebook or hammering nails into a piece of plywood.

I am a big fan of pens and pencils because they are portable, don’t require batteries and are instantly available to you with zero boot time. But not any ole’ ballpoint and a scrap of paper will do – I have strong feelings about my writing media.

From a young age I developed a strong preference for the smooth, effortless flow of gel ink pens. They glide over paper where a ballpoint feels like an engraving chisel that leaves unseemly grooves under the page you’re writing on.

These days I exclusively use retractable Pilot G2 pens with a 0.7 mm tip. The good people at the Pilot Corporation know what’s up when it comes to pens. Do you need a chunky 1 mm point, or a surgical grade 0.38 mm fine tip? They got you covered. Do you prefer to write in orange or teal ink? They make those too.

If by this point my ode to the Pilot G2 is starting to sound like an ad, rest assured, they did not pay me to write this.

High volume ink color G2s like black, blue and green usually come in a box of a dozen and cost around $10 – $12 on Amazon.

They have a clear barrel, with a soft rubbery grip, a pocket clip and a nice, clicky button on the end. It’s a utilitarian pen that’s well put together and doesn’t feel cheap. It works well and is unobtrusive.

Gel pens have one minor flaw – they tend to smear if you drag your hand or a piece of paper over the ink before it dries. Glossy or slick paper is especially susceptible to this, but the ink tends to dry relatively quickly, so if you’re mindful of this and don’t slide around too much, you should be fine.

I get about a month worth of writing out of each G2 pen, but your mileage will depend entirely on how much you write or doodle. I mostly use the pens to jot down meeting notes, outline pieces I intend to write and occasionally to handwrite initial drafts of work documents. It’s a moderate amount of writing – even though I love to write by hand, the bulk of my work is still typed.

For people who write frequently, finding the right tools is a deeply personal choice, as it is for any craftsman or craftswoman. You must find what works for you. One of my daily carry items is a pen case with several G2s – now I can’t write with anything else. If you’re still looking for the perfect pen, give these a try.

A pen is actually a high-tech piece of equipment, with it you can project onto paper an infinite combination of ideas, be they in the form of words, drawings, or mathematical symbols – a remarkable feature that doesn’t get its due credit in the modern day of touchscreens and digital printers. Nonetheless, this humble tube of ink is here to stay.

In the next post I will discuss what I like to write on with my pens.


Pens of the trade