As those who know me are well aware, I'm a bit of a fountain pen devotee. My favorite fountain pen is a Parker Inflection (tranquil blue), though I've come to be a fan of fine-nib pens and the Inflection is a medium-nib. I also am quite fond of my shiny purple Cross ATX (fine nib) fountain pen. And as a backup, I have a deep blue Parker Sonnet.
I have a second zirconium Cross ATX too, which I keep filled with rose-scented red ink, in case I feel oddly Victorian and want to write a letter by hand. J.Herbin makes wonderful inks, though I feel it's a little decadent to use it for my day-to-day writing. But they've been making ink since the 17th century and still make some of the best writing ink out there. (For day-to-day, I still use a bottle of Parker 'Quink' generic blue ink.)
Lately, I've become a devotee also of Clairfontaine papers. Clairefontaine is one of the few notebook companies out there who still make all their own paper, and their paper is some of the brightest, smoothest paper out there. It takes fountain pen ink incredibly well, and you can definitely feel the difference between it and generic 'normal' paper as you write.
Now, I know people who write with just generic ballpoint or gel pens in whatever they can find. I know plenty of people who do all their writing on the computer; this is hardly uncommon in the modern world. But I find I write best with my fountain pens and my notebook, just sitting down with a cup of chai and scribbling away. A few weeks ago, I had this conversation with Amy Thomson; though she does most of her writing on computer, she agrees about the importance of really good writing materials, and was saying she intends to fix up her fountain pens.
I know plenty of people on my friends list are fellow aspiring writers (or even pros!). I've asked one or two of you before about your writing habits, but I'm curious now how many of you find the quality of writing materials makes a difference to you. Is a fountain pen and a good notebook invaluable? Or does just any old spiral-bound and disposable Bic pen work? Is writing by hand passé, and computers are the way to go?