Finding the Perfect Notebook

FullSizeRender.jpg-1I kept a journal as a teenager. It was one of those tiny ones with the lock that wouldn’t actually keep anyone out. I wrote about the really important stuff that went on with me. And I wrote in it less and less as time went on, stopping sometime in my late teens/ early 20s.

A few years ago, I started keeping a journal again. I had just moved to a new state, was feeling lonely, and was going through a period in my life where I was feeling dissatisfied and couldn’t figure out why. So I grabbed an 8.5 x 11 Mead notebook and started writing things down. I don’t remember if I happened to have it laying around, or if I went out and bought it, but it was a 5 subject notebook with pockets, and it took me seven years to fill it.

When I was done with that one, I tried finding the perfect journal again, but couldn’t find anything that met my specifications. So I ended up getting another Mead notebook, and this time it only took me two years to fill.

Over time, I started using Washi tape, gluing little mementos inside, doodling in the margins. I’ve taken some inspiration from smash books in that sense. The Mead notebook works… but I feel like there’s got to be something better out there. I crave better paper and a nicer cover.

I want something spiral bound (so it folds in half), 8.5 x 11 (or thereabouts) with good paper (doesn’t matter if it’s lined or unlined). I prefer pockets, but it’s not a deal-breaker. I often write with gel pens or fountain pens, so I can’t use a thin paper that bleeds through. I bought a Yoobi notebook for another purpose, and I can only use one side of the page because of bleed-through.

Does anyone out there have notebook/ journal recommendations? If you journal, what do you use?

J is for Journals

A few of my favorite upcycled journals from Etsy.

A few of my favorite upcycled journals from Etsy.

I started collecting journals before I actually started writing in them.

I kept a diary as a kid, faithfully recording the events of my day, until I stopped for no real reason when I was in my early 20s. Life got in the way, maybe.

Being a writer, I wanted to go back to journaling, so I’m not really sure why it took me so long to do it. I found really pretty upcycled journals on Easy, and I bought several of them, but I didn’t write in them. I put them on a shelf and left them there.

When I did start journaling again, I got myself a plain, spiral bound notebook, not wanting to write in a pretty journal. I’m not sure why I thought I shouldn’t scribble my thoughts in something nice, but I didn’t want to “ruin it.” I didn’t write much in my plain notebook, and journaling became something I made myself do because I think writers and therapists “should” keep a journal, instead of something I actually wanted to do. I kept trying to start a journaling habit, but it just didn’t stick.

Then one day, a friend of mine showed me a notebook he keeps with his favorite quotes. I loved the idea. I had done something similar as a kid, writing in quotes and my favorite bits of poetry or prose. For years, I’d been collecting quotes in my email, where they’d sit in the dark to never see the light of day again. Without hesitating, I grabbed one of my nice journals off the shelf, and started putting quotes into it. The blank pages were no longer waiting for words.

It felt right to fill those blank pages; my journals were finally fulfilling their purpose. While I still don’t have a journaling habit, I do journal pretty regularly now. Sometimes I write several times a day, and sometimes once a week. It just depends on how much I have to say. At this point, my journaling is often kind of like thinking on paper. I just write stuff down and afterward see what it was I had to say.

What’s the point of having something and not using it for it’s intended purpose? Honestly, I think it’s a little sad that I let those journals sit empty for as long as I did. So, I say: use that pretty journal, light the decorative candle, drink out of your crystal goblet. In my mind, things are meant to be enjoyed.

And besides, when I fill that pretty journal, that means I can go on Etsy to buy a new one. Right?

What I Learned in 2014

In Vancouver, Canada Photo Credit: Doree Weller

In Vancouver, Canada
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Odd numbered years tend to be better for me than even numbered years.  And while 2014 wasn’t awful, it wasn’t great either.  That being said, 2014 was full of learning experiences, and I have to be grateful for those.  Perhaps, like literary fiction, 2014 will be better in review than it was while living it.

I learned that I needed to remember how much I love poetry and quotes.  When I was a teenager, I kept a notebook where I dutifully copied poetry and quotes that I loved.  I still have that notebook somewhere.  As I got older, I started saving things I liked in folders in my email, and promptly forgot them.  For years, I’ve loved upcycled notebooks and bought them, but then didn’t write anything in them.  Well, I now have an awesome poetry and quotes book.  I copy things down and doodle in it.  Writing things I love in there is more immediate than saving them on my computer, and it feels more personal.

Journaling is fun and therapeutic.  I’ve been a sporadic journaler for a few years, and even when I was doing more of it, it was mostly stuff about what I did during the day; nothing exciting. Recently I turned my journal into a place where I jot down all my thoughts.  Things about stories, reflections on my day, positive things that people have said to me.  And you know what?  Just like that, not only do I enjoy journaling again, but I find that it’s a good way to process my day or my feelings on something.

Colored pens make everything better.  Okay, they don’t cure world hunger or addiction, but if I’m having a bad day, doodling in my journal in colored pens makes me smile.  It doesn’t matter if I can’t draw; as long as it’s in color, it looks great.

I learned that no matter how many friends I have, there’s always room for more.  I’m an introvert, so in my mind, I only need so many friends.  I mean, there’s only so much time in life.  Despite my intentions, I ended up making a new friend this year, someone who will undoubtedly be around for the rest of my life.

Books aren’t written; they’re rewritten.  I know this, but I still have to learn it over and over again.  I just have to keep editing until I get it right, and every time, it will be a little better than it was last time.  That’s okay.  The best things in life take time.

Criticism hurts, but it won’t kill me.  I joined a fantastic writer’s group, and got some feedback that really stung.  After I got over licking my wounds and eating 41 pints of ice cream, I took an objective look at the criticism I received.  Some of it, I still disagreed with, so I filed it away and decided not to edit anything based on that.  Other parts of the criticism were spot on, and I made some changes based on that.  Once I got over tripping on my own ego, I realized that I was presented with a unique opportunity to improve.

I strive to be a lifelong learner, and I’m very excited to see what’s going to happen in 2015.  What, if anything, did you learn in 2014?

 

Changes Afoot!

You may notice some changes to my blog.  First off, I’ve decided to join “Post A Day 2011.”  Post a Day is a commitment to blogging daily, and is a way to help writers meet their goals.  The Daily Post website has tips and inspiration for writers, as well as a daily blog prompt.  There’s also a weekly photo challenge that people can post on their blogs if they choose.  Here’s that link.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/what-is-the-last-good-book-you-read-write-a-short-review/

I’ve been thinking about doing Post a Day for a while, but the kicker was that with the addition of the TV Guy posting on Sundays, I only have to post once more a week in order to join, since I was blogging Monday through Friday anyway, so here we go.  Hopefully I can find something to say daily.

For those of you who missed the announcement, the TV Guy is going to be posting every Sunday about… all things TV!  Movies, TV shows, technology, oh my!

There are days that blogging can be a chore, and other days when I love it.  I’ve started journaling less because in some ways, blogging has become an online journal.  Not that I’m telling you my deepest, darkest secrets or anything, but I am putting my thoughts out there.  I would like to journal more often.  I’d also like there to be about 40 hours in every day.  I’m going to do my best to get the things done that I want to.  In the meantime, here’s to Post a Day!

And here’s a link to a great post from another author on journaling.

http://nhwn.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/10-ways-journaling-makes-you-a-better-writer/