Notebook Addict of the Week: John

This week’s addict is a writer who has challenged himself to write a million words this year, including typed on the computer and handwritten in notebooks. I think John is doing pretty well at reaching his goal, based on his website and these photos of his notebook collection:

DSCN0496DSCN0498DSCN0529On the Shelf

I’ve always written, since I was very young, it was a way for me to get the word in my head out of my head and somewhere else so I had space for more words to get in. My first notebooks were the old school essay books and Black’n’red when the milk round started paying because they lasted so long (the A5 and A6 books in the pictures are both more than twenty five years old). I was introduced to Moleskine by a friend in 2003 and began to understand that I wasn’t the only one out there who appreciated a good notebook, but for me, they need to have something in them, it’s like a glass, it’s function is to carry something, it wasn’t made to be empty. Over the years I’ve collected all manner of notebooks and my family bring me new notebooks from wherever they were at the time (I’m an easy buy at birthdays), from the metal and leather bound books from Italy to the gigantic diaries from Holland, and I never leave home without one, sometimes two with me.
I do a lot of typing these days, as my writing speed simply can’t compete with sixty words a minute without getting scrappy and i like things to be neat. But in recent times (especially with the million word challenge), I find that I can do my day job and hand write a thousand or so words a day to help in the challenge and also keep up with my handwriting skills. In the last twenty days, there’s been a good sixty pages filled in my current book (the Leuchtturm has been a favourite for some time, it appeals to my OCD on indexes and numbered pages), and at this rate I’ll be going through the other books soon.

There are lots more photos of John’s notebooks in this Flickr album. John’s description of all the photos is below:

The Image “On the shelf” comprises all the notebooks in order from left to right. Moleskine A4 lined, Rymans A4 pad, BlackNRed A4 decorated personally, Brepols Saturnus 2 pages to a day Diary, Brepols Saturnus day to a page diary, Brittanicus book in leather binding, Paperblanks quarto size notebook, Semicolon A5 book, WHSmiths own A5 book, then A5 notebook, then day to page A5 diary, BlackNRed A5 book, Rymans decorated A5 spiral book, Wild and Wolf A5 notebook, Asda A5 notebook, Moleskin Large day to page diary, Marvel A5 notebook, 3 x Moleskine, 3 x Guildhall, 2 x Leuchtturm notebooks, Metal backed book from Italy, Collins A6 day to page diary, Paperchase Gridded A6 notebook.

Across the Top left to right and top to bottom, 2 x Penshop end of line leather bound blank pads, 1 x BlackNRed A6 notebook, 1 x a6 bound recycled paper notebook, 1 x leather bound A6 book from Italy with Fleur De Lys cover.

The Image MGL comprises (Left to right) Both the Leuchtturm notebooks, all three Guildhall, and both Moleskine notebooks, those with discolourations are the ones that have been used up the most, I find the edges of the page become darker the more they get used.

Images 496 to 501 are the flat images of the notebooks from the first image.

502 and 503 are the Brittanicus notebook, a thick pad of paper with beautiful maps on the bookmark and the cover, very good for putting maps together on.

504 is the two pages to a day Brepols Saturnus diary, huge at 33 cms tall and with enough space in them for any amount of writing. Sadly not available in England πŸ™ You have to go abroad for these.

505 is the insides of the SemiKolon book, the band on it snapped within days of getting it which was a real shame, but the paper inside is spectacular and comes in all different types within the same book.

506 is an end of line book from the pen shop, using leather bindings around aged looking paper, very atmospheric but I haven’t found a use for it yet.

507 to 517 are the Moleskin, Guildhall, and Leuchtturm notebooks, the Leuchtturm are the ones I presently use because the paper is of superior quality and the index appeals to my OCD…

518 and 519 are the string and leather bound recycled paper book, used as a journal for a character in a novel, the journal isn’t finished yet, even if the book is.

520 and 521 are a beautiful leather bound notebook my family brought me back from italy while they were on holiday, the paper is some of the best I’ve ever known, but the book isn’t mass produced and I’ve been unable to find another one since then.

522 to 525 are of a plain book with metal covers that was brought back at the same time as the leather book, very few pages and the paper is not good quality, but it is intriguing to write in.

526 to 530 are different images of the collection to give some idea of scale πŸ™‚


Big thanks to John for sharing his addiction! You can read more from him at

7 thoughts on “Notebook Addict of the Week: John”

  1. That is a most impressive collection of notebooks. I like the variety and that they tend to be larger notebooks, which are my preference as well.

    As for the million word challenge, that leaves me rather cold. The recent trend towards gimmicks in reading and writing depress me. All of those “I’m going to read all of the books on this shelf this year!” or ” my year of reading Proust, Austen, Trollope, etc”. Next it will be reading only books with red covers, or reading only authors whose names rhyme, or some other nonsense.

    I’m not familiar with this author and he’s completed two novels this year, according to his website. They may well be superlative novels but I can’t help but wonder about the quantity versus quality issue.

  2. Both those novels were written and published on the blog as I was writing them as an initial example to see what happened when I had to write something new, the first one was the Shift, started at the beginning of the year, and the second one was World War Wolf, started early February, take a look, tell me your honest opinion, if the quantity vs quality issue is apparent, I’d like to know πŸ™‚

    As for Gimmicks, It’s not a gimmick, it was honestly an attempt to inspire others to write where previously they hadn’t, but I can see how others might think it was a gimmick.

  3. Oh come off it Barbara, don’t be so pretentious and stuck up. The man’s done some impressive work if I do say so myself (both in collecting gorgeous notebooks and in writing 2 novels). Most of us can’t commit to writing a sentence everyday, let alone a million words a year. Whether his words are of quality is not of your concern to say the least. I hardly believe everything an author (even a lauded one) writes is a masterpiece; as you should very well know writing is a process which requires multiple revisions. The simple act of putting pen to paper is the gateway to finding creative ideas- that is what these “gimmicks” promote. If you dislike them, you don’t have to be a part of them- they are personal approaches to writing, after all. Do things your own way, but don’t put down someone else’s admirable efforts. You are effectively throwing mud in your own face.

    Hello John, you’re very good natured! I must say, you have beautiful handwriting, and I love how organized the insides of your notebooks are! I’m balking at the fact that you write about a thousand words a day- I wish I had as much motivation, but I’m still learning at 21 I suppose. Congratulations on finishing two novels! If I could ask a small question of you- as I seem to be unable to find what I’m looking for- could you possibly tell me the brand of the extremely thick notebook 5th from the top in the third picture? Thank you in advance! Please keep writing fervently and disregard anyone who demeans you for doing so. πŸ™‚

  4. Good Evening Kiria

    Thanks for taking the time to reply, it’s always appreciated.

    Never stop writing, that’s the key πŸ™‚ Doesn’t matter how many you do a day, as long as you do some πŸ™‚

    The extremely thick notebook 5th from the top in the third picture is a Brepols Saturnus 2 pages to a day diary, There’s a link to a separate post on the blog put up for you so you can see the details of the book in question, it’s not a regular notebook and the dimensions may not be what you’re after, but if they are, I’ve also included details of where to find books like this.

    If you need any other help finding one, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to assist.

  5. @Barbara: I don’t see how deciding to read books by particular authors (perhaps ones that person hasn’t gotten around to reading prior to setting this goal for himself/herself) is a “gimmick.” Nor do I see how that will turn into “only reading books with red covers” or something inane like that. The whole point of these things is to challenge oneself with a difficult goal. How are those challenges different from saying something like, “You know, I realized I really don’t know much about western philosophy, particularly its Greek roots. I think I’ll go read some Aristotle, Socrates, Plato etc.”? It is hardly the same as choosing books based on some random characteristic that has nothing to do with the content (which is what these reading challenges amount to: picking books based on similar content, whether the criterion is type of genre, type of author, or critical acclaim).

  6. Didn’t Terry Pratchett at some point publish 2 novels a year in his Discworld series before he (sadly) got sick? He’s a genius in my opinion!

    1,000,000 words is impressive and very like the “1 sketchbook per month” challenge, which I have never succeeded yet. At least in art, applying some effort and brains along the way, it’s said to make a huge difference in a matter of just one month.

    So John, I think it’s a cool challenge and I hope to maybe see a Youtube video of your notebooks someday πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.