You might have seen me talk about fountain pens, notebooks, and other stationery before. Either here, on Twitter, or on Instagram. But what do I use it for? I think a better question is: What don’t I do with my pens and notebooks? I’ve already written about why I use fountain pens to write but I never spoke about what I use them for on the daily basis.
One of the best habits I’ve developed is journalling every day. I just use one of the many empty notebooks and start writing. Last year, I switched from one page per day to more than one. Mostly because the notebook I was using then had less space per page so if I wanted to write the same amount, I’d have to write more pages. But also because 2020 happened and I needed to write it off me. Writing more helped. Some days I’d even write again in the afternoon or evening to get clutter out of my mind.
Journalling is my way of reframing my mindset. My dreams can be vivid and will active a certain emotion, but if I don’t like how I feel waking up, a good journalling session can steer my mindset into the direction I want it to be. It’s also a good time to write down any story ideas I get from my dreams (which happens often) or any worries that popped up. I rarely read older entries. I don’t write them for future-me. It’s all about present-me feeling better, and the more I write, the better I feel, most days.
I’ve started my first bullet journal this year after trying several planners the last few years. When I quit my office job and went to writing full-time (or well, my full-time) I found that I needed more structure in my life. After decades of just doing things other people told me to do (school, more school, university, office job), for the first time I was in charge of my time. I’ve used planners before to keep track of things and went back to them. Using paper planners went well with my growing fountain pen addiction too. But I just couldn’t find the right layout. The planners I used missed pages I wanted or just didn’t give me an incentive to use every day.
My bullet journal changed it. While I don’t do daily pages, only weekly spreads, it’s still part of me. I customize the spreads with washi and stickers, use the pen colours that make me happy, and I can add pages in between as I want or need them. It’s still a work in progress and I’m experimenting with different things, but I think I’m getting close to the spread that works for me.
I have a separate goal planner (still a work in progress) where I want to keep track of all the projects I’m working on. The publishing process of all my books, all the marketing campaigns, the blog writing, but also the project of me. Self-care and making sure I’m being my best self deserves time and attention. It’s sad that I have to plan for it, but it’s necessary.
The idea book
I’m sure I’m not alone with this one: an idea book. One place to gather all your ideas for whatever it is. I have one notebook dedicated to all things related to Narratess. I’ll write down blog ideas, plan out series, or just brainstorm what I’m going to do on social media. I’m still working on that last part. I’ve got more than enough ideas but I still have to put it into practice.
Sometimes I look through my list of story ideas and it’ll spark new ideas or refresh old ones. I think I have about fifty possible books on that list and it’s ever-growing. It’s nice to have it all together so whenever I want to focus on something new, I know where to look.
I’m learning better when I’m using pen and paper. By using physical movement, the knowledge is more ingrained into my brain. That’s also why I prefer studying real books and not digital ones. I’m not the only one, but other people forget because they don’t like using pens anymore or want to go digital-only. Sometimes it’s worth holding on to an older technology if it works better for you, whichever it is.
What do you use your notebooks and pens for?