Notebook Addict of the Week: Cynthia Morris

This week’s addict is the blogger at Original Impulse, where she offers “support and resources to help you love your creative life.” She was faced with a decision about what to do with all these filled notebooks!


“As I unpack and move into my new home, I am faced with a decision: do I put my journals on the shelves or boxed in the closet?

Hundreds and hundreds of pages, billions of words. For what?

Stacks and stacks of writing

These 100+ notebooks full of free writing and journaling certainly aren’t interesting to anyone. They aren’t publishable and they haven’t brought me any money.

But these notebooks full of my scribbles form the foundation of my writing career. Without the pages and pages of meandering writing, I wouldn’t have built the confidence to dare publishable pieces.”

Read more at How Writing for ‘Nothing’ Can Give You Everything – Original Impulse.

Pentalic Traveler Pocket Sketch Reader Review

I love the detailed commentary I sometimes get from readers of this site about their own favorite notebooks. A reader called Filcard responded to my review of the Pentalic Illustrator’s Sketchbook recommending that I check out another one of their products:

“My absolute favorite though is the “sister” product to the Illustrator, the Traveler Pocket Sketch. Instead of hard covers, they have a flexible cover, still waterproof and durable. I like the flex a bit better because it allows the book to open a tiny bit easier when I’m drawing or writing on the go. I use them primarily for journals. I write with tons of different pens. I’m a pen and ink freak. Usually I use Daler Rowney FW ink or Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay india ink… both are dip inks, so I use a pen holder and various pen nibs. No ink other than yucky Sharpies (not a fan) bleed through the Traveler pages. The paper is great for ink, pencil and colored pencil. The Traveler sheets are considerably beefier than the Illustrator, at a 60# weight. I absolutely love these books and have filled a number of them.

I’m currently writing in an Illustrator, that’s why I found your blog interesting. The one I’m using right now is the white covered one, and it’s pages are pretty thick, so it must be the second run. If you can find one of those, I bet you’ll like it more based on your review of show through.”

Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal Sketch, 6-Inch by 8-Inch, Royal Blue


They come in a few different colors and sizes and are available in many art supply and stationery stores. Here’s a link to various Pentalic notebooks on Amazon: Notebook Stories Store.



In Praise of Wear and Tear

From a lovely essay about appreciating the worn, torn, lived-in-ness of books and notebooks, the “messiness of creation”:

“For about fifteen years now I have been keeping a notebook, or multiple notebooks actually, ostensibly with the intention of jotting down ideas or thoughts before they escape off into the ether. Occasionally these thoughts result in something concrete but more often than not the scribblings are promptly forgotten about, never to be reread or pored over for long-lost inspiration.In reality, this incessant note-taking is just another form of procrastination, no different nor more tangibly constructive than the 47,000 or so tweets that I have managed to post over a much shorter period of time. Dozens of the notebooks are piled in a drawer at home, ranging from neat little Moleskines to cheap spiral-bound jotters that I can’t remember buying. There are even some loose pages that were posted back to me by a conscientious thief who ripped them out and kept the rest of the book (upon later recovering the bag they were in and which had been left on the Metro, I found the same thief had ignored a number of valuable items but took a copy of Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia and a Paris A-Z – it was as if I had been robbed by a latter-day Raymond Queneau).

They bear the marks of occupational carelessness – crumpled or worn covers, smudged ink, coffee and wine stains – contain fragments of stories, lists, recipes, potted film reviews, heartfelt confessionals after bad break-ups, the occasional bad poem, ill-informed first impressions of whatever city or country I happened to be travelling in at the time. Everything is written in my cursive handwriting, which has got smaller and increasingly illegible as the years have progressed (some entries also bear the clear imprint of drunkenness). The writing is in a variety of coloured inks, of varying thickness, sometimes in pencil, of varying degrees of sharpness. A couple of the early ones even have an index system, dating from a time when I seriously thought these scribblings would constitute a corpus from which my future work might be drawn.”

Read more at  The crack of the spine: why do we find wear and tear in books so comforting?.

Moleskine Monday: All Lined Up

“I filled up the last page of my sketchbook/journal the other day and am looking forward to cracking open another fresh, new Moleskine notebook. I have been using these same journals for over five years now and get such a sense of accomplishment from seeing them all lined up on our bookshelf, knowing that between the simple, black, nondescript covers lie words, drawings, and mementos that detail some of my most precious memories and ideas….”

Read more at little black journal. Check out her weekly sketching posts too for some beautiful examples of what’s inside these!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Ben Hatke

This week’s addict is Ben Hatke, creator of the ‘Zita the Spacegirl‘ series. In a guest post at GeekDad, he talks about the importance of sketchbooks in his creative process:

“I can’t stress enough the importance of sketchbooks in my creative work. I think one of the most important things that anyone with an interest in visual storytelling can do is FILL SKETCHBOOKS. The act of filling a sketchbook is the act of becoming comfortable transferring your thoughts from your mind onto a page.

As your sketchbook fills up it will become as unique as you yourself are. Every artist will use a sketchbook in their own way, but when you become very comfortable in transferring your thoughts onto a page flipping through your sketchbook or notebook will look like a peek into your mind. I try hard not to be precious about my sketchbooks. I don’t expect my sketchbooks to be beautiful pieces of art; I expect them to catch ideas as they fall out of my brain.”

Here’s a generous pile of those sketchbooks:

And here’s a video flip-through of one of them:

Read more at Sketchbooks: The Secret Soul of Creativity by Ben Hatke – GeekDad

Astier de Villatte Villa Medici Notebooks

These are rather gorgeous:

“The Villa Médicis notebooks by Astier de Villatte are printed with beguiling photographs from the palace gardens.In 1803, Napoléon Bonaparte moved his exclusive French Academy to Rome’s storied Villa Medici. Since then, the Italian Renaissance villa that overlooks the ancient city has housed generations of creative minds, including Jean-­Auguste­-Dominique Ingres, Claude Debussy, and Balthus, who served as the villa’s director for some time. Now French ceramics maker Astier de Villatte has launched a series of letterpress notebooks with gold-­edged pages in tribute to the palace’s vast and enchanting gardens. The covers, rendered in a kaleidoscope of saturated colors, are printed with photographs of the property. One cover features a panorama of the gardens, lined with stone-­faced Dacian warriors and Colbert’s statues, while the other depicts the whimsical Carré des Niobides, a vignette in a hidden garden where ancient statuary is surrounded by flowering acanthus.Villa Médicis notebook; $27.

Source: Astier de Villatte Partners with the French Academy at the Villa Medici for a Collection of Dreamy Notebooks : Architectural Digest

Japanese Stationery Magazines (and Giveaway!)

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I don’t remember how I first heard that there was such a thing as Japanese stationery magazines, and I’m not even sure if “magazine” is the right word for them. The first one I’d heard of was a series of numbered volumes called “Note and Diary Style Book.” I searched for them on Amazon Japan, and printed out the results. I brought it to the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Manhattan, which has a huge selection of Japanese books and magazines. The first time I went, the sales clerk said “Wow, we don’t carry these, but we really should!” Given Kinokuniya’s large stationery department, I quite agreed.

When I went back and asked again recently, I had better luck. The clerk said they did not have the exact ones listed on Amazon, but she showed me a few similar items, and I bought these ones. One of them seems to be a compilation of the best notebook, pen and stationery products of the year. The other one seems more like a magazine with feature pages on different stationery stores and pen manufacturers. They are sort of like catalogs, or perhaps trade journals for the Japanese stationery and pen industry. There are pages in the one with no English title that list various stationery stores. The MonoMax one seems more catalog-like, so I wondered if MonoMax might be a store, but from a little googling, it seems like it’s a magazine that covers various products. From browsing at Kinokuniya, I’ve noticed that there seem to be a lot of Japanese magazines that focus on fashion and accessories, sometimes a single product like backpacks, with just tons and tons of photos of various backpacks that are trendy in Japan. I can’t really think of any American equivalent that so single-mindedly hones in on a single product. We have some magazines with pretty specific topics for niche audiences, especially in terms of trade journals, but I don’t think we have any consumer magazines that just showcase backpacks! As for notebooks and pens, there is a magazine called Pen World, and trade journals called “Stationery” (may be defunct now as last issue I could find is over a year old) and “Stationery Trends,” but “Stationery Magazine” is Japanese.

Anyway, here’s some of the eye-candy from within these two publications. If anyone can read Japanese and can add more explanation, please do so in the comments! I will also give these two magazines away if anyone wants them. I’ll select two random winners from any comments on this post that express interest in the giveaway. The deadline to comment and enter is Friday July 10, 2015 at 11:59 Eastern time.


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Notebook Addict of the Week: Wendy

This week’s addict compiled the journals below during a period of transition in her life:

“Learning Journals from 2009″


2009 must have been quite a year! From the looks of that photo, she went through about 2 journals per month!

“Since then, I have collected a handsome pile of moleskin learning and reflection journals. Each journal is marked in black marker pen December 2009 – March 2010; March 2010 – May 2010 and so on. Sat in my cupboard these journals are serving no-one. Eggs waiting to be made into a souffle.”


Read more at her website where she shares what she’s learned along the way from re-reading her journals:

Main Reason Why People Don’t Achieve Their Goals | Metamorphic Coaching and Natural Success.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Suz Blackaby

This week’s addict is another discovery via Sharing Our Notebooks. Suz Blackaby is a writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction for children. She’s laid out quite a collection of notebooks on this table! And yet she says she still resorts to jotting things on envelopes and napkins…


“So when it comes to notebooks, it turns out that I have a ridiculous number and variety in my greedy possession: linen-over-boards-in-pleasing-colors; high-end paper with/without lines/grids; handmade by dear friends; lovingly and cleverly chosen by traveling family members; discovered in quaint corners of art, paper, writing, museum, &/or book shops; etc. I stockpile a stockpile. Turns out this is maybe an illness….

hoard (n.): cache, stockpile, stock, collection, supply, reserve, reservoir, fund, accumulation, treasury, stash, gathering, set, assortment, pool

hoard (v.): save, store, amass, stockpile, accumulate, collect, gather, put aside, hide away, squirrel away, assemble, accrue”


Read more at  Sharing Our Notebooks: Suz Blackaby: Please Pass the Napkins.

A Bookshelf-Builder’s Notebook

I love notebook pages with measurements and plans! I found this one accompanying an excerpt from Nina MacLaughlin’s memoir Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter:

“…the story of MacLaughlin’s journey out of a drag-and-click job at a newspaper and into a carpentry apprenticeship. In this section MacLaughlin strikes out on her own to craft bookshelves for her father and meditates on the relationship between writing and carpentry, and learning to build with wood instead of words.”

Sounds like a great book… especially if it includes more photos of her notebooks! (Though I’m not sure it does, alas…)

Read more at : All the Language in the World Won’t Make a Bookshelf Exist : Longreads Blog

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