Journal

THE ENDLESS ALLURE OF NOTEBOOKS

I can’t be the only writer who is absolutely obsessed with notebooks. Blank notebooks, full notebooks, expensive journals, and cheaper-by-the-box Memo notebooks–I love them all. I used to watch Inspector Gadget explicitly because Penny’s “book computer” was the coolest notebook I’d ever seen. Eilonwy’s blank book of spells was just about the coolest thing I’d ever read about (and accounts for why Castle of Llyr was my favorite of the Prydain Chronicles for years). In fact, anytime anyone in a book or a movie cracked open a little pocket notebook, I swooned a bit.

Even before I could write, I loved notebooks. I would spend my allowance on those little tri-packs of mini composition notebooks. My kindergarten teacher would make construction paper-bound lined books that we kids could write in to make books. My spelling, to this day, is deeply compromised because of hours spent writing “books” in second grade with horrific phonetic spelling.

Don’t these things just give you palpitations?!

In high school, when I drifted away from writing fiction as much, I kept my notebook obsession, but it swapped over to sketchbook obsession. Filling page after page, until literally every scrap sheet had something on it, was the highlight of my summer months.

As I went off to college, I graduated into fairly regular journaling, and found the same satisfaction in filling sheets–front and back–with words. I’ve kept up that habit, admittedly not as regularly as I used to (a habit I’d like to restart!), in part because I adore going back in time and reliving long-gone days. Something about journaling, capturing those moments in my own voice, really bring the memories roaring back and make me feel like I’m back there. This is one of my favorites, and surprisingly a lot bigger than the typical smaller journals I tend to use. Something about the bigger format was deeply satisfying to write in before bed, and it helps that this particular journal captured my time working in the candy factory, which is just fun to revisit:

When I started writing more seriously, I went back to writing notebooks, particularly Moleskeins, which I would decorate with pictures of things I loved and admired. This is one of my favorites, from just a couple years ago:

*Note, none of the art on here is mine. To find the originals, they’re largely linked on my ancient DeviantArt account @ ScentOfThunder

Another thing I did for a while, which combined my love of notebooks with my general admiration for office supplies, was using a day planner to track and annotate my writing work. I’ve tried this with various success in the past, but this one was the day planner that set the bar, complete with stickers for achievements and crossed-out dates designated for free time/unlikely to be used for writing:

More recently, I’ve fallen fairly hard for the bullet journal trend. I tend to lean more towards minimalist in my spreads, because honestly some of the art-forward journals look just too overwhelming to me, and I mostly need something to focus my thoughts and organize my days/weeks. My current BuJo looks like this, and I’m pretty happy with its simplicity:

The one thing I want to get back to in my current BuJo is a habit I used to keep on my previous BuJo, which was doing one small ink sketch per day. I still love flipping through that older book to see what I was sketching at the time, and it’s so cool to mix the visual with the simple page layouts, I really want to get back into that again:

Notebooks may just be one of the most delightful things in the world, and I must say, despite the ease of using my phone to take notes and give myself reminders and track my schedule, there is always going to be something about a physical notebook that’s going to keep pulling me back. I love watching the pages fill up, one by one. I’m still trying to work out exactly how to reconcile my daily BuJo with a daily journal effort, since sometimes they seem to overlap, and sometimes it’d just be easier to do everything in the BuJo, since I intend to keep it anyway. I have a box of notebooks I haul around with me whenever I move, and I like to think that someday they’ll be a treasure for grandkids, the way my grandmother’s travel journals are treasures to me.

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