The Best Writing Utensils: An Ultimate Guide

Want to be a more productive writer? Get recommendations for the best writing utensils to inspire you in this guide. Pens, notebooks, desks, and more!

What are the best writing utensils available today? Pens. Cups. Software. Desks. Lamps. A computer. Notepads. It’s hard to know what to pick and what to skip.

This is particularly true if you’re a writer on a budget who wants to spend money only on the essentials. Writing can be demanding and difficult, so why make it any harder?

The right setup and writing utensils should improve your creative process rather than complicate it. For example, taking notes with a good pen is a pleasure, and the right type of software will enable you to publish an article faster.

On the other hand, a cheap pen will leak or break, and a rickety desk will distract rather than support your hard work. In this ultimate guide, I cover the best writing utensils you need and the ones that are just nice to have.

02/18/2024 10:31 pm GMT

Please note, that this post contains affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you sign up or purchase. I recommend only the tools and products I’ve used or tested myself.

What Are The Best Writing Utensils?

The best writing utensils an ultimate guide

The best writing utensils are more than just pens — they affect our writing experience and inspire the words to flow. The true magic of great writing utensils is their ability to access your deeper creativity.

A pen that glides effortlessly on paper. A desk decorated with your personal touches to encourage your productivity. A desk lamp to help illuminate your work. Writing courses and editing tools to foster your creativity. All as you sip on a steaming cup of tea or coffee.

These writing utensils are the dreams of great writers and will help increase your writing success.

How Do You Budget For The Best Writing Utensils?

With so many amazing and inspiring writing utensils available, one of the biggest problems a writer has is working out how to balance a budget with their desires.

It always pays to invest in your writing!

Start by developing a spending plan that includes each of the writing utensils in this article: a pen, paper, a desk, a lamp, personal items, a writing cup, and more.

These are the basic writing utensils for anyone serious about their craft. If you’re also into other creative art and craft pursuits, you may need additional writing utensils like an eraser or stylus

1. Pens

Many people prefer the simplicity of pens, whether drafting a novel, writing notes for a blog or making a list.

Each pen type delivers ink in a different way. Depending on how you hold your pen, some encourage the words to pour out onto the page, and others are scratchy and interrupt your flow.

Pens, like many writing tools, come in all different shapes and sizes for a variety of use cases. If you want to learn more about what to pick, I tested over a dozen different writing pens a while ago.

The Best Ballpoint Pen

A ballpoint pen is a reliable purchase. The ink is drawn out of the pen as the point writes on the paper. They tend to use oil-based inks that dry faster and don’t smudge.

The best ballpoint pen is the Uni-Ball Jetstream Retractable Ball Point Pen. This pen delivers fast clean writing on most types of paper and keeps up with your thoughts.

With a range of colours and tip sizes, this pen provides one to suit your style. This ballpoint has a fine point 0.38mm tip. This popular retractable pen has a clicking button at the top that you can press down as you ponder what you’re writing.

Unlike many pens, the Uni-Ball Jetstream Retractable Ball Point Pen is manufactured in Japan, whereas most pens are manufactured in China.

  • Great for left-handed writers
  • Refill cartridges available
  • Ink dries quickly, requiring pen to be retracted when not in use
  • Not designed for heavy-handed writers
Uniball Jetstream RT 3 Pack, 0.7mm Fine Black, Wirecutter Best Pen, Ballpoint Pens, Japanese Ink Pens | Office Supplies, Journaling Pens, Ballpoint Pen, Colored Pens, Fine Point, Smooth Writing Pens
  • Ballpoint Pen: Our black ballpoint pens combine the smooth, vivid writing of a gel pen with the quick-drying, smudge-resistant properties of a ball point ink pen;
  • uni Super Ink: Water- and fade-resistant ink helps you compose long-lasting, high-quality documents you can archive; Our ink pens offer protection against water, fading, and fraud;
  • Quick-Drying Technology: Our quick-drying black pen ink resists smudging and smearing, making this pen ideal for left-handed writers;
  • Quality Construction: Our writing pens feature a comfortable embossed grip and sleek stainless steel accents; A convenient clip ensures that your favorite ink pen is always at hand;
  • Premium Performance: Our innovative black pens are great for all of your personal and professional writing needs;

The Best Fountain Pen

The Pilot Metropolitan pen is a good fountain pen if you haven’t used this type of writing utensil before. It’s reasonably affordable writing implement that is easy to use and comes in many different colours. 

I keep one in a cup near my desk.

Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen, Black Barrel, Classic Design, Medium Nib, Black Ink (91117)
  • Pilot's sleek Metropolitan Collection signature pens
  • Finest quality at a mid-range price
  • Medium nib
  • Ships with 1 Pilot black ink cartridge and 1 Pilot Press Plate Converter
  • Black barrel

The Best Gel Pen

Gel pens use pigments rather than dyes, providing a greater variation in colours. The ink is thick and luxurious, perfect if you write slowly in longhand or cursive. If you want a pen that glides over the paper, then the Uni-Ball Signo UM-151 Gel Ink Pen is a good choice.

One creative option is the vibrant ink colours available. If you fancy something apart from black ink, you can select metallic shimmery colours, but if you want a more whimsical feel, try pastel colours.

A variety of nibs from 0.7mm to 0.28mm are available. I prefer heavier nibs. This is a good pen for any writing task, including your next novel.

Fun fact: Japan was the first to manufacture and sell gel pens, in 1984.

  • The pigment-based formula is waterproof and unaffected by too much exposure to light
  • Great for those with light-handed writing
  • Too much pressure leaves sticky, heavy ink on the page
  • Takes longer to dry than a ballpoint pen, so might smear if touched soon after

Both the Uni-Ball Jetstream Retractable Ball Point Pen and the Uni-Ball Signo UM-151 Gel Ink Pen are perfect writing utensils for notebooks and journals.

Best rollerball pen

I gravitate towards a roller pen for taking notes quickly and on the go. The Uni-ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pen lasts for quite a while and comes in a variety of tip sizes and colours. I bought a box a year ago and am still using pens from that box

Uniball Vision Elite Rollerball Pens, Black Pens Pack of 12, Bold Pens with 0.8mm Ink, Ink Black Pen, Pens Fine Point Smooth Writing Pens, Bulk Pens, and Office Supplies
  • Engineered to eliminate leaks caused by changes in airplane cabin pressure
  • The uni-flow ink system creates a steady flow and smooth, consistent color
  • This uni Super Ink offers 3-way protection against water, fading and fraud
  • Bold 0.8mm point for intense, skip-free writing

2. Notebooks and Journals

A writing notebook is a trusted companion for many writers to draft their best-selling novels or keep track of thoughts. No matter why you use the notebook, putting pen to paper is inspiring.

You could look endlessly at journals and pour through the different reviews to compare quality and price and try to find the best one. To save you time, I believe the following two are great options.  

Moleskine Classic Notebook 

Many writers, travelers, and journalists speak of the Moleskine Classic Notebook in terms of love poetry. They are large-lined notebooks, perfect for writing your memoirs, note-taking, or journaling.

Colors inspire people differently, so this notebook comes with a wide range of covers from classic black to vibrant purple and other colours of the rainbow just waiting to be filled with your ideas.

The paper feels smooth and is perfectly textured for writing with a ballpoint pen. It’s also heavy enough to handle gel pens. The hardcover is firm enough to write on while braced on your arm or lap, but it will flex as you fill it with writing.

  • Excellent quality for a good price
  • Lays flat when open
  • Attached ribbon bookmark frays
  • No place to keep a pen or pencil
Moleskine Classic Notebook, Hard Cover, Large (5" x 8.25") Ruled/Lined, Black, 240 Pages
  • CLASSIC MOLESKINE NOTEBOOK: Moleskine classic notebooks are perfect notebooks for writing journals, a daily diary, or note taking in college classes or meetings. Moleskine notebooks are beloved by travelers & bullet journalists for their slim design.
  • DURABLE COVER & ELASTIC CLOSURE: Hold writing projects & notes in your Moleskine notebook with an elastic closure band & inner storage folders. Leather-like classic Moleskine cover & thick, ivory paper pages are perfect for writing with fountain pens.
  • GIFT QUALITY NOTEBOOKS: Moleskine planners, journals and notebooks come in hardcover or softcover and colors like black, red, blue, green and brown. The binding and cover have a durable finish, designed for daily journaling, writing and sketching.
  • DELUXE QUALITY PAGES: Moleskine's thick, ivory paper pages in a hardcover Moleskine notebook, softcover Moleskine notebook, cahier or volant journal, or Moleskine planner are perfectly textured for writing with a ballpoint pen, fountain pen, or pencil.
  • MOLESKINE QUALITY: We're dedicated to culture, travel, memory, imagination, & personal identity—both physical & digital. We bring this commitment to our notebooks, bags, apps & smart pens & notebooks.

Leather Journal Writing Notebook

Designed for pen-and-paper enthusiasts, this handmade Leather Journal Writing Notebook with unlined pages is a special keepsake for your thoughts, plans, and ideas. It’s a good size for your travels too.

A percentage of the profits go to Tehila, a charity in Zambia that promotes the prevention of child cruelty.

It’s gratifying to find an ethically sourced notebook. This journal uses recycled premium cotton leftover from the garment industry cloth in India.

  • Ideal for left-handers, with earth-friendly pages and no bleed-through
  • 5-star rating with over 300 reviews
  • Blank pages can make writing in a straight line difficult
  • The leather can stain the pages

Whilst these notebooks will not magically turn you into Hemmingway or Austen, having a notebook that inspires you makes you want to write! Now to find the ultimate writing setup.

Leather Journal for Men - Handmade Vintage Journals Women, Mens Journal for Writing, Leather Bound Journal Drawing Sketchbook, Small Leather Notebook Journal, Unlined Travel Journal Leather MOONSTER®
  • ★ UNLIKE THE DISAPPOINTING FAKE LEATHER JOURNALS MADE BY OTHER BRANDS, Moonster’s leather notebook is made of HAND-CUT, 100% GENUINE WATER BUFFALO LEATHER and premium RECYCLED COTTON PAPER. Handmade in India, our Leather Bound Journal features a BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED, AUTHENTIC DESIGN that will leave its recipients in awe.
  • ★ WHILE MANY FAUX LEATHER JOURNALS ARE CONSTRUCTED POORLY, WITH GLUED-ON BINDINGS AND PAGES THAT FALL OUT, our writing journal is a keepsake you’ll have forever, with a HAND-STITCHED COPTIC LEATHER BINDING for pages that stay firmly in place. Filled with 120 sheets/240 pages of creamy, unlined PREMIUM COTTON PAPER recycled from leftover garment industry cloth in India, our travel journal note book is TREE-FREE AND ACID-FREE. This blank journal LIES FLAT, making it a pleasure to write in.
  • ★ THE AVERAGE DAILY JOURNAL IS FILLED WITH LOW-QUALITY PAPER THAT degrades the journaling experience. Our writing journals are made with TOP-GRADE MATERIALS, featuring PREMIUM 125gsm EARTH-FRIENDLY PLAIN PAPER that is perfect to write on. NO BLEED THROUGH: Use any ballpoint pen or a slow-flow fountain pen on the handcrafted paper sheets.
  • ★ A HANDSOME, THOUGHTFUL GIFT THAT GIVES BACK. For every purchase made, Moonster gives a percentage of its profits to their favorite charity in Africa, that works to PREVENT AND PROTECT CHILDREN FROM CRUELTY AND ABUSE. Our journal for men & women comes beautifully wrapped in an earth-friendly COTTON BAG. Choose between two sizes: 5”X7” OR 8”x6” – the perfect size for travel!
  • ★ OUR 365-DAY REPLACEMENT PROMISE: If your rustic journal arrives damaged or you find anything faulty with the craftsmanship, simply CONTACT US DIRECTLY within 1 year and we will send you a FREE REPLACEMENT or FULL REFUND. No questions asked, HASSLE-FREE. Makes an Awesome Anniversary, Graduation, Valentine or Birthday Gift!

3. Arts and Crafts

My daughter spends hours each week following arts and craft DIY YouTubers. She likes copying out pictures that they demonstrate online, using Sharpies, a mechanical pencil, a highlighter, and other writing utensils.


Calligraphy describes the art of decorative handwriting, typically with a special pen or brush and high-quality paper.

If you want to practice this type of creative work, the Mont Marte Calligraphy Set contains all the writing implements you’ll need, including a calligraphy fine tip pen, nib, ink cartridge, and an exercise book.

Mont Marte Calligraphy Set, 32 Piece. Includes Calligraphy Pens, Calligraphy Nibs, Ink Cartridges, Introduction Booklet and Exercise Booklet, Packaging May Vary
  • 31pc set includes: 4 refillable calligraphy pens, 5 nibs, 20 ink cartridges, ink pen pump, introduction booklet and exercise booklet
  • Create a range of lettering styles
  • Traditional nibs ideal for Roman, Round Hand, Italic, Gothic, Uncial and more
  • Practice skills with included exercise booklet
  • Great gift set, comes with everything needed to create


We keep packs of Twistables in our house for arts and crafts. They don’t need to be sharpened. As they are non-toxic, a toddler can also use them.

Crayola Mini Twistables Crayons (50ct), Kids Art Supplies, Unique Gifts for Kids, Coloring Set, Crayons for Toddlers & Kids, 3+
  • CRAYOLA TWISTABLES CRAYON SET: This kids coloring set includes 50 Crayola Mini Twistable Crayons that are perfect for little hands to hold and use.
  • LESS MESS COLORING SUPPLIES: Unlike traditional crayons, Crayola Twistable Crayons require no peeling or sharpening, making them a great less-mess option for coloring.
  • DURABLE AND LONG-LASTING: Made with high-quality materials, these crayons for toddlers and kids are built to last.
  • VARIETY OF VIBRANT COLORS: With a wide variety of colors to choose from, these coloring supplies allow kids to explore a treasure trove of vibrant hues.
  • PORTABLE AND CONVENIENT: The compact size and durable case make this coloring set easy to take on the go.

A Sharpie Permanent Marker

A Sharpie permanent marker is an essential writing utensil if you or a family member is into arts and crafts. The below is a good set. Just remember to keep them well away from a whiteboard and your erasable set.

SHARPIE Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Black, 36 Count
  • Proudly permanent ink marks on paper, plastic, metal, and most other surfaces
  • Intensely brilliant colors create eye-popping, vibrant impressions
  • Remarkably resilient ink dries quickly and resists fading and water; AP certified
  • Endlessly versatile fine tip makes impressively bold, detailed marks
  • Includes 36 black Sharpie permanent markers

An Erasable Marker

I’ve installed a large whiteboard in my office where I write. I use to plan out a to-do list for the week, to outline book chapters and story ideas.

I keep a pack of erasable whiteboard markers like the ones below nearby in four different colors: usually red, blue, black and blue. I opt for a larger tip size for writing on a whiteboard as I find it’s quicker to write with.

4. A Writing Desk

Inspired by your choice of writing utensils and notebooks, you’ll want to devote a lot of time to writing, so why not opt for a good writing desk?

Which Writing Desk is Best for You?

All writers need a desk to ponder and draft their masterpieces.

The traditional writing desk had a small desktop with drawers to store paper and pens. But as we moved through the ages, we developed computer desks that needed a larger, roomier desktop to house computers and cables.

A writing desk offers you a space to put pen to paper without the distraction of modern-day stresses. For a writer who needs inspiration, the following desks are affordable and practical.

Ameriwood’s Home Haven Retro Desk

Whilst a small writing desk, the Ameriwood Home Haven Retro Desk is a really nice-sized desk for a writer or those who have a small space. One great addition is the riser so that items don’t clutter your writing space.

The modern look and color mean this desk would look good in your apartment or home office. The metal hairpin legs are a fun throwback to popular mid-century design.

  • Riser provides extra space for office supplies and décor
  • Light enough to move easily if you rearrange your setup
  • Some find assembly complicated (Other reviews say it was simple)
  • Design offers no drawers for storage
Amazon Brand - Movian Haven Retro Rectangular Computer Desk with Riser, Distressed Gray Oak, 23.8 in x 44.7 in x 35.4 in (9881096COM)
  • Get a perfect work from home solution for smaller spaces with the Ameriwood Home Haven Retro Computer Desk with Riser
  • The distressed gray finish with brown undertones coordinates with the powder-coated metal hairpin legs for a fun and unique look
  • The Desk is perfect for small spaces and offers a riser for extra storage for office supplies such as pens and pencils while the desktop offers plenty of work space for your laptop, notepad, and papers
  • The Retro Desk with Riser ships flat to your door and requires minimal assembly upon delivery. The Desk can hold up to 70 lbs. while the riser can hold 20 lbs. Assembled dimensions: 35.4”H X 44.7”W X 23.8”D
  • Coordinate your home office with the entire Haven collection (each sold separately)

Sauder Carson Forge Writing Desk

The Sauder Carson Forge Writing Desk is a small writing desk that features a large workspace along with a small drawer and a flip-down molding that reveals a slide-out shelf for your keyboard, mouse, or laptop.

It’s American-made, using engineered wood, and finished in a rustic Washington Cherry finish accented with wrought iron style hardware.

  • Finished on all sides, versatile fit for anywhere in any room
  • Provides storage options for notebooks
  • SUPER heavy. Don’t expect to move it on your own
  • Takes time to assemble

Both these writing desks are practical and elegant. Not only will they blend in with the perfect writing environment, but they can also help you smash through your writer’s block.

Sauder Carson Forge Writing Desk, Washington Cherry finish
  • Flip-down molding reveals slide-out shelf for keyboard/mouse or laptop
  • Small drawer with metal runners and safety stops
  • Finished on all sides for versatile placement
  • Wrought iron style hardware and accents
  • Cord management

5. A Desk Lamp

As a writer, you know good lighting is essential. Desk lamps are an important accessory, even if the lighting in your writing space is good. The best desk lamp will help prevent eye strain and bring inspiration to your writing space.

There are many inexpensive and well-designed options, but I recommend the following lamps as the best options for writers.

Traditional Bankers Lamp

The Traditional Bankers Lamp has a handmade green lampshade that offers a calming radiance to your room. The base is made from heavy brass and keeps the lamp stable. No need to worry whether it will tilt.

This iconic lamp has been used by bankers, copywriters, and journalists for over 100 years and is a favourite prop in movies. I have one of these on my writing desk.

I like them, as I can move the shade backward and forwards and adjust the lighting in my room.

  • Supports LED bulbs, incandescent bulbs, and halogen bulbs
  • Adjustable shade gives a choice of light intensity
  • Not dimmable
  • Bulbs not included
Traditional Bankers Lamp, Brass Base, Handmade Emerald Green Glass Shade,Vintage Office Table Light, Antique Style Desk Lamps for Office, Library, Study Room (Brass)(No Bulbs Included)
  • Hand-made Glass: A-class handmade glass, less bubbles, clean cut surface, pretty nice looking . PLEASE NOTE: Since the glass is handmade, it is inevitable there are some little spots (Unnoticeable) on the shade. And please contact us directly if you received the lampshade broken, we will repalce it for you immediately.
  • Stable Lampholder: The lamp base is made of nice brass and very heavy to keep stable, no need to worry it will tilt.
  • Nice Brass Base: Made of great copper with nice metal luster, makes the light look very vintage and classic.
  • Well-packaged: With great designed package , the lamp can be protected very well and make sure you get it perfectly. Any damage caused by delivery, please follow the instruction inside to solve it in 2 days.
  • Save Your Worry: Well-packaged, to ensure you get the lamp intact, we used great designed package, the lamp can be protected very well and make sure you get it perfectly. If there are any defect with the bankers lamp in 1 year, please feel free to contact us, we will be here for you anytime you need.

TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp

If you want flexibility, the TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp is perfect for you, with a bendable neck and a moveable arm.

With a minimalist design, this modern lamp shines a flicker-free light that brightens your writing space without harming your eyes — ideal for writing.

Be aware the light head is short; the light bar is the same height as a computer monitor, but the base takes up some space. Another great feature is it folds down when not in use, leaving just the vertical piece.

I use this lamp for reading.

  • Dimmable office lamp with USB charging
  • 5 colour modes and 7 brightness levels for reading and writing
  • Made from plastic
  • Bulbs not replaceable

Both options above will help light up your life and create the ultimate writer’s setup. So now you have the basic equipment, but what about some small touches to make the space yours?

No products found.

6. Personal Trinkets

Now that you have a functional writing setup, you’ll also want inspiration and stress relief when you’re writing. Personal touches can make your writing setup feel more comfortable and unique, providing the perfect environment to be more creative and successful.

Solutions are as simple as pencil cups or trays to keep all writing instruments in one place and stress balls to help calm and refocus a busy mind.

Hemingway Pencil Cup

The key to productivity is to keep a clutter-free work desk, which can be a challenge if you have many writing utensils. As a writer who adores antique typewriters, you will smile at this desktop catchall.

The Hemingway Pencil Cup is named after Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway, who is one of the great American twentieth-century novelists known for works like The Old Man and the Sea.

  • Quality piece with attention to detail
  • Would make a nice gift for a writer
  • No separate sections for other items
  • Could be deeper
Hemingway Pencil Cup
  • Typewriter themed design
  • 5"x5"x5"
  • Faux stone composite

Funny Motivational Stress Balls

When your sensory channels are overloaded, you can find your ability to write becomes blocked. These Funny Motivational Stress Balls can help. They include funny handpicked quotes like “Keep Calm and Be Awesome.”

Fun fact: The first commercial stress balls appeared in the 1980s, but you can trace them back to China as early as 206 B.C.

  • Balls come in a small bag, helpful in keeping them organised
  • Perfect for hand exercises and to relieve writer’s finger fatigue
  • Some Amazon reviewers say they are too soft
  • If your hands are big, you might find these too small

Creating a writing setup that is inspiring and functional will help you have even more fun with your writing. But what else do you need?

No products found.

Now it’s time for a break…

7. Writing Cups

As a writer, you can’t deny how important a writing cup for your coffee or tea is when enjoying a well-earned break or even to get you started. ou can choose from hundreds, if not thousands, of different makes and models.

Try to choose a writing cup that is durable, spill-proof, and keeps the heat in. The following writing cup keeps your drink hot for hours if you keep the lid on.

Leidfor Insulated Tumbler Coffee Travel Mug

The Leidfor Insulated Tumbler Coffee Travel Mug is double-walled and vacuums insulated to keep your drink at the exact temperature you want. It has a spill-proof lid made of food-quality silicone rubber to ensure no leaks on your writing.

Leidfor includes a desiccant bag inside made from natural tea leaves to keep the mug dry. It is natural with no chemical additions. Leidfor offers both the 12 oz. and a larger 17 oz. cup, which holds more liquid than the Bru cup.

  • The stylish matte finish won’t show fingerprints
  • Cools to the touch with hot beverages, sweat-proof with cold
  • The screw-on cover is nominally less convenient than a press-fit one
  • Top-rack dishwasher safe; however, hand washing is recommended.

Like great famous writers, you can now sip on your tea or coffee when you write your best masterpiece with these convenient writing cups.

The Final Word on the Best Writing Utensils

Whether you’re shopping for school supplies or materials to write your book, you can now pick from the best writing utensils! No longer will you struggle with what to write. Instead, you’ll be inspired to create the masterpieces hiding inside you. 

Having the best and most inspiring writing utensils that reflect your personality will help you focus.

  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.