More on Finishing Notebooks

One of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog was about Finishing a Notebook. The notebook in question was this softcover Moleskine, one of the first notebooks I’d ever used completely from front to back.

At the time, this was a notable accomplishment. That was what I loved about those early Moleskines– I wanted to use every page. I didn’t get itchy about switching to a new notebook. Until that point, I’d been quite fickle, always buying new notebooks and often switching to a new one after only using a few pages. Sometimes it was just because I wanted to try a new notebook, and sometimes it was because I had somehow become disillusioned with the one I was using. Sometimes I just had a grand idea of a single-purpose notebook but never really carried it through.

But for the last decade or more, I’ve pretty much finished every notebook I’ve started. My usage habits have fallen into a consistent pattern of having one daily notebook plus a sketchbook or two going at any given time. The daily notebooks are always used until they are finished. The sketchbooks take longer to fill, but they are also used til the end, except for some that have been used while traveling.

The travel notebooks are a tricky one– I started a HandBook sketchbook on a trip to Paris, but I hardly did any drawings in it. I felt like it should stay a travel notebook, but ended up changing my mind and using it for other sketches and collages at home.

finishing notebooks01finishing notebooks02

Another HandBook travel notebook started on a trip to Turkey, but was only filled about 1/3 of the way. I then took it to Portugal, but only filled a few pages. Several more pages were filled in Corsica. It’s still only a little more than half full, but now I feel like I have to reserve it for more travel.

finishing notebooks05finishing notebooks06

But in the meantime I went to the Galapagos with a brand new sketchbook, which I mostly filled on that one trip. (It’s a brand I had just discovered and will do a full review on soon: Hahnemuhle.) I also dedicated a sketchbook to a safari trip in Botswana and filled it almost to the end. (I’m better at drawing wildlife than European architecture!) The empty pages in the Galapagos sketchbook are almost 1/4 of the book, but they will stay empty, I think, unless I try to re-work some of those sketches from memory or from photos– I can’t just use it for something else.

finishing notebooks03finishing notebooks04finishing notebooks09finishing notebooks08finishing notebooks07

So I’m generally pretty committed to seeing a notebook through nowadays. But I’m a little tempted to ditch the one I’m using right now! It’s an old Piccadilly with squared pages, from a stash of them bought several years ago at Borders. The corners of the spine are tearing quite a bit and the paper doesn’t seem quite as smooth as usual. It has some symmetry issues and the corners stick out a bit, particularly on one side. It’s just getting on my nerves a bit. At this point, I think I only have about 1/6 of the notebook left to use. (it looks like more than that below but I also fill in some pages from the back.)  But I can’t bring myself to bail out. Instead, I find myself writing with wider margins, scribbling inconsequentially to fill space, doodling more, and just generally spacing things out a bit more to use it up faster. I think I’ll manage to hold out til it’s done.

finishing notebooks10

How about you? Do you use every page of a notebook, or stop and start with lots of different ones? Do you go back to old notebooks and finish them later? Do you reserve notebooks for a specific purpose even if they’ll take forever to fill?

19 thoughts on “More on Finishing Notebooks”

  1. I soldier through and finish my notebooks. I use them primarily as journals, drawing a very little bit inside and affixing paper momentos as well. I understand the itch to get on to the next beautiful notebook very well! There was a time where I’d give in and go ahead and buy and start using a new one without hanging on and finishing the one I was using. But for the last 15 years or so I’ve been diligent about finishing the current notebook. It heightens the anticipation of looking for and buying the next one! (Which also leads sometimes to bigger handwriting, and more doodles towards the end!)

    I also fill my notebooks from the back! I actually flip the book upside down and keep notes starting on the last page as if it were the first. This prevents me from having to guess how many pages to save at the back of a journal for my notes. I just write until the notes and journalling meet somewhere in the middle!

  2. I fill the entire notebook, but I have a horrible tendency to abandon them and once a significant amout of time passes by I can’t find it in myself to continue writing in the same notebook- at which point I tear and shred the entire thing, to have a new start in a new book. I’m trying to stop doing that, as it is quite costly to keep buying and destroying perfectly good notebooks just because I wrote unperfect thoughts in them.

    I love the photos of your finished pocket Moleskine. I had one I completed a year ago. I tried to start new ones like that, but as you pointed out in your previous posts, the quality of Moleskine’s is sadly dropping.

  3. When I was in my teens, “new journals” ended up on my Christmas and birthday list, so in one year I ended up with a huge stockpile of tacky Hobby Lobby notebooks, emblazoned with flowers and ‘inspirational quotes’ and other chintzy patterns. Grandma gifts. It was terrible. It took me YEARS to get through them, usually alternating a cheap one with a nicer brand that I bought myself. So in that phase I was especially inclined to beef up my handwriting size and throw in a bunch of song lyrics and inane scribbles so I could start using a notebook I actually like.

    Now I still tend to get antsy in the last 15 or so pages, but I do fill my notebooks out completely, one at a time.

  4. Both…

    I am more likely to finish one now than I was in the past, but…that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a bunch of them that are NOT full, but then again I do have plans to fill them at some point…maybe.

  5. This was an interesting post. I used to have trouble with this. I’d get sick of a journal halfway through and abandon it for most of my life. Just recently, like the past couple of years or so, I began to realize why I was doing this and as weird as it sounds, I figured out it was the actual pages. I can’t write on white pages, they have to be off white or cream colored. And usually if the pages are cream colored and the binding lies flat, I’m good.

  6. The thing for me is obsessively buying notebooks and using just two or so at a time. I had about 40 blank notebooks and 30 sketchpads and I realized I didn’t really use them, so I gave away half to my students. I just loved finding them and touching them and reveling in their particular features. For the first time in years, I have completed a daily journal and keep a log of those journals that are in use and what the blank ones will be used for. This was partly after I discovered the notebook loving communities and realized it was okay to have this love for collecting. The only other time I remember finishing a notebook before that was at age 16. Then, I promptly burnt it in the backyard the day after it was completed. lol. Now, I cherish every notebook I have.

  7. It sounds like you don’t really make a distinction between a sketchbook and a notebook. . . ? (I wish you would give us more peeks at your sketches, by the way. . . they look wonderful!) I make a complete distinction between the two, so I have two responses to your question: I always fill every page of every notebook (with writing), even if I hate something about it, and I just vow never to use that type again. But a sketchbook — that’s a different story. If there’s something about it that I don’t like — format, paper, size — I will abandon it immediately. But the past 6 months or so, I’ve resolved the sketchbook issue completely by making my own. So I only use paper I love. Here’s a recent one:

    – Tina

  8. Your system is actually quite a lot like mine. I have trouble abandoning a notebook now, too, especially if it’s more than halfway full. I just do a lot of doodling and tape stuff in. I figure it’s worth it because the difference in satisfaction of a notebook that’s almost finished to a notebook that’s totally finished is so huge. I’m nearly done with my ecosystem notebook, now. I don’t like the bright white or lined pages (the color and model I want only has lined) but other than that, it is one of the best notebooks I’ve used. Super durable and adapting, and when I covered up the end papers it looked a lot more personal. (I know people have complained about the promotion on the end papers). Have you used an ecosystem yet?

  9. Wow, Nifty, you travel and you can draw. I get around Idaho and Oregon and I cannot draw anymore. Out of practice.
    I use only the recto side of my pocket-sized molies and similar clones. The information density is lower, makes it easier to find stuff later and there’s no issue if my fountain pen inks bleed through.

  10. I’m a little obsessive and don’t like to leave things hanging, so I can’t stand the thought of leaving a notebook unfinished forever. 🙂

    That said, I’ve made the mistake of dedicating a specific writing project to a notebook, which means it’ll take me a long, loooong time to finish because I have so little time for writing projects these days. I do, however, always finish my journaling notebooks, my work notebooks, and my sketchpads (the latter might take years, literally, but eventually I always get through). Quality of paper makes a *huge* difference in how happy I am to write in, and therefore how quickly I finish, a notebook though — something I didn’t realize until I got myself notebooks with better paper and raced through them!

  11. I pretty much always use on notebook/journal until I use all of the pages. Towards the end, I tend to get bored and start trying to take up as much space as I can when I write so that I get through it more quickly. This is especially true when I have another notebook lined up that I’m really excited to start using. I do have a few single-purpose notebooks. I have an extra small Moleskine Volant that I keep in my purse for random notes (grocery lists, movies or books that I see that I want to remember to look up later, etc.), a composition book for knitting to keep track of pattern notes and progress, and assorted notebooks for different stories I’ve been working on. I pretty much just use sketchbooks all the way through and I don’t get a new one until I finish the current one, and I use pretty much every page on one side.

    I don’t like going back to fill in old, half-filled notebooks because I feel like that messes up the continuity. I like having each one being in order.

  12. I can’t leave a notebook incomplete either. If I feel like I may want to get through a specific notebook faster I only write on one side of the page. That way it goes quickly and it’s not filled with large ugly writing and filler.

  13. I have this terrible problem of not being able to ever finish a notebook. I keep starting new ones, for different purposes or moods, but then they all get abandoned. Sometimes, I’m too scared to even touch the newest notebook because I know I can’t finish it…and I don’t want to ruin it. Q.Q

  14. I always try to finish a notebook. I don’t have the heart to waste those pages. But usually I get sick of waiting for the inspiration to strike on those last few pages so I’d abandon them for weeks at a time, LOL.

  15. I always have a handbook with me and I usually use it till the pages are finished,as I don’t like wasting paper. I keep my records and tips neat and aligned for my daily requirement. I use Nightingale products as such it is longlasting. Thanks to Nightingale for this wonderful experience

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.