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The Fountain Pen Guide for Lefties (Pt. 1): Do I need a lefty nib?

Fountain pens, to me, are the ultimate writing instrument and a great pleasure to use. Lefties, however, often face numerous challenges and questions when it comes to fountain pen usage. I am a lefty myself, and part of my “mission” and “giving back to the community” is to help in tearing down the (often not very high) walls that prevent left-handers from using fountain pens. That is what The Lefty-Fountain Pen Guide is meant for.

I hope you enjoy the ride and that these guides are helpful to you. Feel free to also check out my ink-reviews that also place special emphasis on lefties. Note that there is also The Essential Fountain Pen Guide to check out.

What I talk about in this video:

  • A sneak-peak on the upcoming Fountain Pen Guide for Lefties-series and on what I believe to be the Magic Triangle of Lefty-Fountain Pen Usage (paying attention to nib, ink, and paper) – I will talk about that more in-depth in an upcoming post
  • What a lefty-nib is and why these are made
  • Different lefty-writing styles (side-writing, underwriting, overwriting)
  • Why it is no problem at all for a lefty to write with (almost) any fountain pen in the world – and which few fountain pen-types to avoid (and why)

6 Comments

  1. Julie Paradise Julie Paradise

    Although I have not been able to watch your video (having a pause in my work environment) I would like to encourage any lefty to just try a fountain pen!!!

    My daughter is a lefty (more two handed in the beginning, but then settling on her left hand for writing), she is almost 8 years old now.

    She has always been good with handling writing instruments. Of course, we started out with thick wax crayons, then brushes and cheap watercolour, eventually normal pencils, and when she was 4yo I got a fountain pen for 1€ at the equivalent to an American dollar store. Nothing to lose on that price, right?!

    Having grown up in Germany, where using fountain pens when is mandatory in school from grade 1 to 10 (they only let you use other writing instruments, esp. ballpoints, really late in order to “not ruin your handwriting”!) I am used to write with FPs. And I was surprised that this thing wrote phantastic for me, really, pretty much like the cheapo Pilot fountain pens do or the Platinum Preppy. — That cheap pen also wrote phantastic for her, too!

    In fact, as she grew older I let her try my fountain pens sometimes (no high-end stuff, I mostly own KaWeCos, Pilot Preras, etc.), always supervised, of course. And: Any pen works well for her. Obviously she is so used to using “normal” fountain pens that it only makes sense to buy her a special lefty pen when the grip section is shaped specifically, like some beginner’s pens are. (She wanted to have one of those just for the colours and because her friends have those … )

    After a little tweaking of her hand positioning she now likes to use a cheap calligraphy set I gave her (one of those where you get different nibs+grip sections), esp. the 1.1 stub. It was a matter of minutes to adjust to really keeping the angle of the pen aligned to the paper, not rotate, and find a good angle of the paper.

    She used to be a sidewriter, now with the paper rotated almost 90° to the right she writes from under the lines with an easy grip, no hook hand, no smearing, a nice clean (German) cursive.

    She even rocks my Noodler’s Ahab flex pen, you know, light when going up, really pressing and flexing when going down. Which only works when you are positioned in the right way, for her meaning that the paper is rotated to her right so she can push up lightly and the pull down the upstrokes with her free left arm behind her body. (Weird to explain … but many people make the mistake to try to pull the lines “into their body instead of allowing for free arm movement.)

    I for myself had no experience with lefties before that, but seeing my daughter using fountain pens gave me some insight.

    What I want to say with this very long answer is that

    1) Lefties should not refrain from trying and using a fountain pen!
    2) Lefties are not “incompatible” with calligraphy nibs or flex nibs!
    3) Your paper can be rotated, inks can be changed to accomodate to your specific needs!
    4) Lefties do not neccessarily need to buy special (expensive) pens!

    And: The problem of pen rotation outside of the sweet spot a pen has or to the point where the tines are spread asymmetrically is not reserved for lefties: My daughter’s teacher wanted to try out the Ahab (my daughter told her that her Mama has a pen that really needs to be pressed hard, so she was curious) and she did not hold it so that both tines where toughing the paper symmetrically. And she was rotating the pen even.

    And a last notion: My observation is that unlike in the old times, where lefties were forced to use “the good hand” (and everybody needed to grip the same way with 3 fingers) nowadays it is okay to use the left hand for writing, but since teachers are not trained or pay no attention to it they do not take care of the hand position or grip method leftie pupils/students use so they just do whatever they feel like. The hook hand my daughter was about to get used to was not corrected (teacher: Oh, I did not want to interfere) although my hands become cramped by even looking at that, so I practiced to make my daughter write from under the line and she says it is much more comfortable now.

    So, for leftie fountain pen users there are many factors to consider before you even get to pen, ink and paper …

    • Scrively Scrively

      Hi Julie!

      Thank you very much for your thorough and thoughtful comment.
      I would absolutely subscribe to most of what you said – having grown up in Germany myself, I do share your experiences.
      I am very glad for your daughter to having made such a nice experience in the process; also due to you having been attentive.
      Thank you again for sharing your insights – I do believe that your comment will be helpful to the other readers as well!

      Best,
      Michael

  2. Julie Paradise Julie Paradise

    I have come across a leftie calligrapher a while ago who developed a stunning strategy against smudging. She uses a brush and watercolours here, but I vaguely recall having seen that done with a fountain pen also. Look up @tarynsdoodles on Instagram, she is amazing!

    I guess writing backwards is just as probate a method as any other way to do it, and probably just takes some practice and adjusting, but somehow I find this particularly mindboggling.

    • Scrively Scrively

      Great, thank you for pointing that out. I’ll check that.

      As to the backwards writing: Sure, anything that works, I would say. It is not for me, and I also do not have a need for such a workaround – but as long as it helps, I think “why not”.

  3. M18 M18

    Hi Scrively,

    We chatted on Writegear’s instagram regarding the nib width of a Twisbi F v Lamy EF. As a South-paw fountain pen user for close to 4 years now I must say that I am loathe to use any other pen – I absolutely despise the feedback of ballpoint pens and their lackluster performance and ink variations.
    I am an overhand writer and over the years my font has gotten an italic slant – to accommodate this I rotate my paper 45 degrees to the left – I find this also relieves my wrist and provides a more consistent writing experience.
    I use a Lamy EF Vista at the moment, although I have a beautiful Edison Beaumont Bedrock EF – unfortunately the pen is just a bit too small for me and the EF nib a bit too scratchy (I will have to get a different one from Goulet at some point).

    Be that as it may, with practice even a lefty can become proficient with a fountain pen – so much so that I have been commended by almost everyone in my office (which isn’t too difficult considering the fact that one needs a Rosetta Stone to interpret some of my colleagues’ handwriting 🙂

    Regards from South Africa!

    • Scrively Scrively

      Hi!
      Thanks a lot for your message! I have gotten back to you over there at IG, again. Hope my reply is helpful. Great to have another southpaw around – I am one, too, as you had already figured anyway ;-).

      I do also really love fountain pens, as might be obvious from me running this page here, bit I do also enjoy other pens. Indeed, I do use almost everything, from (mechanical) pencils oder fineliners and rollerballs to gel pens and even ballpoints. I determine use from context. I really like using a fountain pen on a desk, a pencil for drafting, or even a ballpoint when out and about and in need of a quick and dirty but reliable writer :-). That said, of course I am most passionate about fountain pens. Just that they are not always the best option in my opinion.

      I tend to side- or underwriting, depending on the situation and paper/notebook at hand. I do mostly use EF – M nibs, too. Oh, and I absolutely do think that using a fountain pen as a lefty is no problem at all. Convening this is the aim of the Fountain Pen Guide for Lefties-series and also part of the mission of this website here. Also, I do believe that with the right arrangement of what I call the “magic triangle” of nib, ink, and paper (i.e. the right combination of these), there is no problem in using fountain pens for lefties. I do intend to have a video on just this topic coming after the summer vacation.

      Anyway, I guess we both enjoy the fountain pen-ride – we’ll stay in touch!

      Best from Stockholm!

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