Here’s what a year of my notebooks looks like. This year I needed them more than ever.
Yes, I keep three notebooks. A notebook turducken.
I carry the pocket notebook around all day and scribble every dumb thought I have as the day progresses.
When I can’t write or draw, I make collages.
If you’re looking for a New Year’s Resolution, keeping a daily notebook is a pretty solid one. It can be hard to get started, so a few years ago, I made The Steal Like An Artist Journal to help. Start with just one page a day and go from there. You might be surprised where your notebook takes you.
First, a link to what kind of notebook, because otherwise, dozens of people will ask.
Then, the weighing in:
This is a silly ritual, but sometimes silly rituals are all we have.
Next, the selection of a guardian spirit to look over the notebook. I picked Durër’s Saint Jerome in his Study for this notebook, which is aiming a little high, but that’s what guardian spirits are for:
And that’s that. All you have to do now is fill it.
One gets retired, one gets hired.
Sometimes the retirement of my pocket notebook is more bittersweet than finishing one of my diaries, because I carry my pocket notebook with me constantly and I fill fewer pages every day, so it’s with me a lot longer. (More about my notebook turducken.) This one had a particularly good guardian spirit:
I swapped hot pink for electric blue. The new one starts with a clipping of the 4-H pledge:
Every time I start a new notebook there’s that little ping of excitement: What will I fill this with?
People sometimes ask me why I don’t use a phone to take notes when I’m ‘out’ in the field. The answer is that phones smash, while notebooks bend. I also like the way that notebooks record where they’ve been not just in terms of what’s written in them, but also in terms of the wear they bear as objects.
Here’s one of my own notebooks, which got soaked while encountering the wilds of my washing machine:
And elsewhere on Twitter, user @bernoid shared their nature journal to much fanfare. (They take a hybrid digital/analog approach: Photos out in the field, drawings later in the notebook.)
— Bernoid (@bernoid) April 26, 2019
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Paper is a woonderful technology.
I was searching for some earbuds and found this notebook in my walking fleece that I haven’t used for months now, sadly, as we have entered the hell season in Texas.
It was my “scratch” notebook, the one I carry around all day, scribbling notes that I then either copy into my logbook or my diary, so it wasn’t that great of a catastrophe.
One interesting thing: I used two different pens and a pencil for these notes, and the water washed out all the felt-tip Flair pen (I didn’t realize they use water-based ink!), but the Pilot G2 ink and the Blackwing pencil remained mostly intact. So now I have this weird object in which some things are erased, some things survive.
Usually with notebooks what survives is the quality of the idea — in this case, it was about the quality of writing tool!
I posted this image on Instagram, quickly, mindlessly, simply because the stack caught my eye as I passed the kitchen table and I thought it was a pleasing image. (A commenter cleverly titled it “Notebook Turducken.”)
This morning I looked and it had several thousand hearts and dozens of comments, many of them questions about my process and what brand of notebook I use. I’ve written about this subject several times, but, as Andre Gide said, nobody was listening, so I guess I’ll say it again. Questions all from Instagram commenters:
What brand of notebook do you use?
Who the hell cares? Just kidding. The top two notebooks are Moleskines, an extra-small pocket one, and a daily planner . The bottom notebook, the one I use as my diary and sketchbook, is a brand I cannot recommend because they’re unreliable and I’ve had several fall apart on me, but I bought them in bulk, so I use them. The closest thing I could recommend is a flexible Miquelrius . Here’s a storefront with all the stuff I use.
How do you use them differently and how are they linked together? Do you migrate entries from one to the other?
I carry the pocket notebook all day, scribble stuff in it, take notes. It’s basically a scratch pad. Then, every morning after breakfast, I open up the pocket notebook, check my notes, then I fill out my logbook, which is sort of like an index of my days and a memory refresher. Then, I write and draw 3-10 pages in my diary, based on my notes and my log. I cross off things in my pocket notebook after I write about them. The diary then becomes a place I go to when I need new writing and blog posts. It might sound like a lot of work, but using this method I am never lost for something to write about. Also, my job is to write, so, there you have it. (By the way, I stole most of this method off David Sedaris.)
You need a bullet journal so you can combine everything into one.
Oh my lord shut up about bullet journaling already!
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