3 Reasons Why Stephen King Writes With a Fountain Pen

By Daniel Whitehouse

Stephen King writing by hand

3 Reasons Why Stephen King Writes With a Fountain Pen

By Daniel Whitehouse

After suffering a horrendous road accident in 1999, Stephen King penned Dreamcatcher.

Written in longhand using a Waterman cartridge fountain pen, King wrote the novel between November 1999 and May 2000.

And writing the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, was therapeutic for the king of horror: “To write the first draft of such a long book by hand put me in touch with the language as I haven’t been in years. I even wrote one night (during a power outage) by candlelight. One rarely finds such opportunities in the twenty-first century, and they are to be savored.”

Today, ballpoint pens and typing on keyboards have become more popular than writing using a fountain pen. However, fountain pens still have their place.

Here are the top reasons why Stephen King loves using fountain pens to write by hand, and why you should too:

Writing With a Fountain Pen Is Therapeutic for Him

The act of handwriting can be rhythmic and calming.

As you write, you’re forced to focus your thoughts. This has the effect of calming your mind, just like meditation.

Expressive writing is particularly effective in healing both psychological and physical ailments.

A small 2002 study from Kansas found that women with breast cancer experienced fewer cancer-related symptoms in the months following expressive writing exercises. The subjects who did expressive writing also had fewer medical appointments.

Just like expressive journaling, writing fiction can be both cathartic and healing. It can help a writer to externalize negative feelings and cope with trauma.

When Stephen King sat down to write after his accident, he hoped it would distract him from his pain.

It was five months after the accident, his leg was in a painful brace, and addiction to Oxycontin was taking root in his system.

Finding it too painful to sit and type at his desk, he picked up a Waterman and started writing.

“Suddenly I had this huge, huge book … I didn’t think about the pain as much. It’s like being hypnotized,” he said of the experience.

King weaved his physical and emotional struggles into the sci-fi/horror tale Dreamcatcher.

One of the novel’s main characters, Jonesy, had been involved in a car accident, obviously inspired by King’s own car crash experience.

In fact, everyone in the story is in pain pretty much the entire time which, while horrifying to readers, would prove a cathartic outlet for Stephen King.

Fountain Pens Help Unleash Stephen King’s Creativity

Studies show that the art of writing by hand improves brain function in various ways.

A study from Indiana University found that the mere action of handwriting taps into creativity that isn’t easily accessed any other way.

Similarly, the University of Washington found that children who wrote by hand were writing more words and expressing more ideas compared to those who typed on a keyboard.

Various other studies have found that children who learn to write by hand learn to read faster. Some researchers claim that cursive handwriting may help in treating people with dyslexia.

“It slows you down. It makes you think about each word as you write it,” Stephen King said of writing using a Watermark Fountain pen.

Upon release, Dreamcatcher was critically acclaimed for its creativity, with the novel incorporating classic elements from King’s older works in order to create something uniquely powerful.

“I think Dreamcatcher is a brilliant exception to the rule,” Stephen King said. “a classic suspense film that will eventually go on the same shelf with movies like Jaws and Alien.”

He even boasted that Dreamcatcher “would do for the toilet what Psycho did for the shower.”

 “What I didn’t realize was how many doors the act of writing unlocks, as if my Dad’s old fountain pen wasn’t really a pen at all, but some strange variety of skeleton key.” -Stephen King

Fountain Pens Write Easily According to Stephen King

Handwritten manuscript of Dreamcatcher using pens fountainImage from stephenking.com

Why did Stephen King choose an ink pen over a ballpoint?

It could be that writing with an ink reservoir pen is deemed sophisticated and therefore makes a unique statement.

Or, it could also be as simple as the fact that it is easier to write using a fountain pen.

When you’re using a normal ballpoint pen, you have to press down on the paper.

But because reservoir pens use liquid ink, they enable your hand to glide smoothly and easily as you write.

This allows you to write for extended periods without tiring.

For prolific writers, a stylographic pen also means fewer issues with hand cramping.

In his author’s note for Dreamcatcher, King lauded the fountain pen as “the world’s finest word processor.”

The ease of writing with an ink pen enabled him to write Dreamcatcher in half a year as he recuperated.

The fountain pen made the experience enjoyable for him. This is why he savored writing even by candlelight during a power outage.

Find the Perfect Fountain Pen

Even if you’re not a prolific writer like Stephen King, you can enjoy the pleasure of using a reservoir pen for a multitude of reasons.

Fountain pens can be used for:

  • Journaling
  • Signing checks
  • Writing cards
  • Writing in your planner
  • Taking notes
 Shop Now: Luxury Customized Fountain Pens


If you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of selecting fountain pens, don’t fret. Here are some tips to help you buy a starter pen:

Consider the Nib Size

Parker fountain pen ink nib sizesImage from penheaven.co.uk

The nib of a fountain pen is the pointy part through which ink flows onto the paper. In the 16th century, the word nib meant a bird’s beak.

The nib size on a fountain pen should be one of your key considerations when purchasing. Ideally, the nib width should suit your style of handwriting.

If you have large handwriting, choose a pen with a broad or medium nib. There are also extra-wide nibs for calligraphy.

With smaller handwriting, Stephen King would have appreciated a fine or extra-fine nib.

Don’t Overlook the Nib Material

Pen fountain stainless steel and gold nibsImage from thewritingdesk.co.uk

Fountain pens use different materials for their nibs.

The tip of your pen can be made of anything from stainless steel to gold.

While stainless steel tips write as smoothly as their gold equivalents, they’re mostly considered to be cheaper.

The best fountain pens have gold or palladium tips. Gold-nibbed pens tend to have finer finishing, allowing for more comfortable writing.

If we were to choose a gift for Stephen King, we would opt for a gold-nibbed stylographic pen.

Consider the Filling Mechanism

If you write a lot, like Stephen King, opt for a vacuum or piston filling mechanism pen. This means more ink capacity than cartridge/converter pens.

If you need to change the ink color frequently, cartridge/converter models are your best option.

Size and Weight Are Also Important

Goulet pens with carbon fiberImage from blog.gouletpens.com

The ideal stylograph should feel comfortable in your hand. Especially if you’re using the pen a lot, like Stephen King.

If you have large hands, you are likely to find a small pen uncomfortable. Likewise, those with smaller hands might find large and heavy fountain pens clumsy.

The weight of a stylograph pen is largely determined by the material it’s made from. Most pens have aluminum or stainless steel bodies. Some have a carbon fiber finish.

Most fountain pens weigh 25g and under. A pen that weighs 30g is generally considered heavy.

 Further Reading: Types of Fountain Pens

Aspiring to Be Like Stephen King? Start by Buying a Fountain Pen

Stephen King had his Watermark fountain pen. You should find your personal stylographic pen too!

The world of fountain pens should be much easier to navigate now you have all the right information.

Go through the Dayspring Pens catalog to find something that suits your preference. You can select a stylographic pen by factors such as price, style, or brand.

We highly recommend starting with the Dayspring Alexandria fountain pen. It has a medium stainless steel tip and is easy to use for beginners.

Watch Stephen King talk about Dreamcatcher in this 2001 interview:

Featured image: dailymail.co.uk


Daniel Whitehouse is the President and CEO of Dayspring Pens. He uses his expertise with premium writing utensils to create exceptional, intentional products and craft easy-to-understand articles that help both new and experienced users learn more about their writing tools. He lives in Virginia where he and his wife are raising their four children.

To learn more about him and his insights about custom engraved gift pens, follow Daniel on LinkedIn.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.