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How often are fountain pens and dip pens are used today by writers, and why do they use them? Or, if applicable, why not?

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I think we've been using the "tools" tag to refer to software that aids in writing. Is this correctly tagged? – iajrz Mar 23 '11 at 19:48
@iajrz - I think both fall under the term "tools" just fine. If anything, I think we should add the "software" tag to all those questions that don't have it. – sjohnston Mar 23 '11 at 19:52
I think we should be getting around to writing the tag wikis. Soon. – iajrz Mar 23 '11 at 22:26
@iajrz - I'm starting to work on the the excerpts today. I'll probably post some meta discussions to work through some of our messed-up tags. – sjohnston Mar 24 '11 at 20:15

If you were going to write a piece that you planned to publish, writing it by hand is going to be the long way around. You aren't going to be able to submit it to the publisher that way, so you're going to end up having to re-type it anyway! I don't think any major publisher is going to be willing to deal with a hand-written manuscript, no matter how good your handwriting, and no matter how good your story.

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Short answer: I have no exact number. I doubt anyone has an exact nomber at the moment. Maybe some site should run a survey...

Christopher Paolini has stated he's used them recently. But they're not often used, as far as I can tell. I'd use them for the same reason Paolini's stated to: it gives a nice feeling, sets the mind in the right mood, etc.

But it's not practical. So, as I'm not that good a writer, I like to stick to the place where I can write my ideas the fastest (so they won't go flying out the window to the corners of Neverland).

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I'd use them to write some drafts, mostly because of the "inspiration" and "right mood" as you said (I write spanish ,obviously, cause English is not my first language). Some times I write some songs with it and I love feeling the art in the music, and on the paper. – D4RIO Mar 24 '11 at 3:06
Spanish is my first language, too, but I can't bring myself to write sci-fi / fantasy in Spanish. Now, talk to me about realism and I can't bring myself to write in English most of the time. Quirks and perks of the trade, I guess. – iajrz Mar 24 '11 at 12:19

I use fountain pens regularly, as do my friends over at Fountain Pen Network. I'm not sure how common it is, but writing longhand with a fountain pen certainly isn't dying out.

I became a fountain pen lover when I realized how much easier they are to write with (my RSI improved immensely when I switched from ballpoints, roller balls, and gel pens to fountain pens). Writing with a fountain pen just feels good, and my handwriting is better. I spend less on writing instruments than when I used ballpoints and such, while I have a greater variety of inks available.

Also, working at the computer comes with a host of distractions. I can retreat with my paper and pen to some distraction-free place and get more writing done.

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Neil Gaiman writes all of his books with a fountain pen.

Neal Stephenson last used a word processor for writing with Cryptonomicon. Since then, he has written everything longhand. Yes, that means all twelve billion pages of The Baroque Cycle and Anthem.

Stephen King wrote Dreamcatcher in long hand.

Claire Messud wrote The Emperor's Children with a fountain pen.

Jonathan Carroll writes all of his novels with a fountain pen.

Shelby Foote wrote his entire Civil War histories with a dip pen!

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I find it depends a lot on the paper you're writing on. Printer paper of course won't even keep a line from a standard felt tip pen, and therefore is relatively useless for notes or other short-lived things. If you're using a heavier grade though, a dip pen will give a better, more expressive line. Whatever you are writing then becomes more interesting to look at due to the line weight and quality.

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I doubt that anyone could post a serious answer to the question. I find myself leaning to pens while writing poetry because, as stated above, it gets you in the right mood and setting. Also it has the additional advantage of not creating distractions (facebook, friends, mail etc).

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