Feb 20, 20184475 views

[Ongoing] Journaling Discussion

On Massdrop, there are beginners who are just starting out and experts who really know their stuff. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, you should always be able to find answers to your questions within the community.
JOURNALING Whether you’re keeping tabs on your to-do list, chronicling your experiences throughout your days, or just working on your creative writing, journaling can be a powerful tool. And knowing more about the processes, techniques, and tools can be a big help.
We want to dive deep into this subject and talk about how everyone uses journaling in their everyday lives. Be it a bullet journal, storytelling practice, or a written captain’s log, share with us how you journal and the materials you use.
ASK QUESTIONS Want to figure out the best notepads for bullet journaling? The right pen for the right paper? Maybe you just want to know where to get started or any pro tips out there you might be missing out on?
The best way to find the answers to your questions is to ask the community. There are members who are experts in pretty much every area you can imagine, and they can help you go from beginner to pro.
Ask your questions by posting in the discussion below.
GIVE ANSWERS Many of you in the community know a lot about journaling and have great information to share. We encourage you to help out anyone who has questions!

Want to start your own discussion? Click here: www.massdrop.com/writing/talk/new
SlithyDash, Duncan, and 4 others

I journal with regular plain Moleskine pocket notebooks. I have a good stock so this won't be for a while, but eventually I'll need something new. It needs to be about 4x6 max. Does anybody have any good recommendations at this size? Preferably something with thicker paper, my pens don't quite bleed through but the writing is visible.
Maybe a little off-topic, but I wish massdrop would help us bulk-buy tomoe river paper. A4/A3, plain, dotted, or lined. Either 52 or 68 gsm. I make my own journals, as I like to get creative and don't like all the options on the market, and I tend to put tomoe river paper in it. I even tried screenprinting dots on it, but it was a little painful. It'd be great if we could get it printed professionally -- which requires bulk orders.
For plain Tomoe River journals, I use paperforfountainpens.com. He does not do lined or dotted, but does include a liner for behind the page.
Hi, thanks, I used one of those before. Unfortunately, it's not thread-bound so it does not lay flat. The best ones I've used are from nanamipaper.com, but the shipping is crazy expensive.
Anyone know any good budget paper and custom paper? I make my own journals, but I always run into the problem of not knowing what paper to put in, supply, and general lack of paper knowledge overall.
The fountain pen community loves Clairfontaine, Rhodia, and Tomoe River paper, so you may look in to what those cost? I don't know per se about "custom", but, those are solid options.
For anyone with Michaels craft stores ... you may want to stop in. Last time I was there (6/2018), they had Artist's Loft (store brand) 6x8" notebooks for $5 USD (regular price).
They have smooth, white paper that you can actually write on ... (both sides!) with a fountain pen! You can even read what was written on both sides! (Enter choir of angels, singing 'hallelujah')
The hard cover is semi-flexible, but sturdy enough to write without support. There are 2 ribbon bookmarks, and 249 (counting both sides) pages plus 4 pages dedicated to a table of contents that aren't included in that page count. They were available in several colors, with narrow lined, grid, or dot grid pages. The lines/dots are faint enough that they aren't distracting, but not so light that you struggle to see them.
I've been using one for project notes since November 2017, expecting the cover or binding to fail, but they haven't.
Nope, I don't work there, or particularly like the place. Are they the best notebooks ever made? Of course not. But finding an affordable, accessible notebook that is genuinely legible on both sides when using fountain pens was a major win.
Just got a couple of journals from Code&Quill.com, they are bigger and take fountain pen ink beautifully. I have moleskines, journals from MOO, and various others that were given to me. I use 1 for work, one for passwords (moleskine) until I can enter them in Roboform, one for to-do's, and am doing my personal journaling in the Code& Quill from now on. I'll keep you posted.
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I got the monolith and the compass. They are both a nice size. Janabai
Thank you! That's very helpful!
Any sketchers out there? Recommendations for sketching notebooks?
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I use Canson Mix Media XL. They come in an assortment of sizes and have thick smooth paper. I sketch in pencil and then use fountain pen or PITT pens to ink in my drawings. The notebooks come spiral bound. This means that the book surface is always flat when I'm sketching. It is also easy to place on my scanner to create my digital copies that I later sell as art prints.
If you are using watercolour along with your pens, I think 200gsm is preferable. The best of the watercolour sketchbooks at the moment is probably Hahnemuhle. If you are not using water media, or only as a minor part, Stillman and Birn Alpha come in a huge range of sizes and formats including soft or hard cover and the alpha is great paper even though only 150gsm. It is not smooth paper - it has a bit of tooth - but I like it with fountain pens and you can get paper samples from S&B to compare with their other papers.
Dear Diary,
Lately I've noticed that a lot of the people encouraging other people to journal, sell journals. I've also noticed this about the people who encourage me to drink beer, buy new cars, and take strange prescription medications. I'm wondering if all of this is some sort of conspiracy--to get me to give other people my money? Maybe I'm just being paranoid and should make an effort to be more trusting of people? May be the points I've raised are really only coincidence? And maybe I should just do all my journaling here, in the comments section of MDs journaling discussion? I could save a lot of money that way--and I wouldn't have to worry about buying more journals and pens--or the people trying to sell them to me.
I just picked up a Midori cotton book. They come in a number of sizes, this one is the A6 size. I also have the A5 size. As you can see, with a fountain pen (Noodler's Elysium Blue ink, Knox nib), there is no bleed through and the dry time is satisfactory. I am not sure if someone is looking into a drop, but they are good paper. Comes in Lined, Grid, Dot, and Blank.

I have loved the Midori paper I have used, though outside of trying a sample with the journal I purchased, I haven't yet used it extensively (I am still working my way through my Rhodia webby and Moleskine). I also very much love Tomoe River paper, though I haven't found any journals that state they use Tomoe River paper.
https://www.paperforfountainpens.com is exclusively Tomoe River.
I use bullet-ish journaling for business projects and notes, and another journal for happy thoughts. Writing 3 happy thoughts each morning improves your outlook on the day!
I'm curious as to what journaling systems were used by old businesses and other organizations - ships used to have journals (logs?), how were they organized?
A ships log was just that - a log. During Columbus' First Voyage in 1492, according to a biography I have, It was not yet a common practice for the ship captain to maintain a daily log of travel and position. Columbus maintained one, which is generally referred to as the Dairio. It was much more than a traditional log recording weather, position, distances and speed. It was a journal in the broader sense - a daily record not of just what happened on board ship but of Columbus' thoughts and observations. (Christopher Columbus: A Man among the Gentiles; Clark B. Hinckley chap 6 First Crossing)
Interesting. Thanks.
I have been journaling for 60 years and my Great Grandmothers trunk holds my journals filled with thoughts, my poems, my prayers for friends and relatives and sometimes drawings of things that catch my eye which contain a story of their own. I do this for my Great Grand children and it relieves stress and hurt and anger and heals.
Looking for beginner advice for a left-handed writer. Where should I start? Smearing is my enemy b/c I write with that cruel left handed curl, dragging through what I've just written.
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Take it from someone who used to smear blue black ink up my arm.....I grew up writing with fountain pens; after I got out of Catholic school, my pen use changed to a backhand slant which stopped the smearing. If you are an overhand writer, you probably need a blotter to keep on top of lines you've just written. I write "underhanded" and have for many years, which is much easier for me (and less painful to my wrists).
I like fountain pens with diamine kjk and fine nibs. Unfortunately the best fountain pen papers leave too much ink on the surface and I get smearage, I like goulet travellers notebooks or leuchterm A5 journals. I have some bleed through but that is the price you pay for unlinked hands.
I have many journals and sketchbooks scattered in my art studio. Each year, I purchase two 200 sheet notebooks in A5 size. One in grid for my annual bullet journal and one in plain paper for my personal journal. I used to be a big fan of Miquelrius notebooks as they are fountain pen friendly and inexpensive, but this year they switched to a poor quality cover and no longer offer them with an elastic binding. So I have switched to a Seven Seas with Tome River Paper. The nanamipaper brand is of excellent quality, but it does require a cover of sorts. The cover backing is sturdy, but not attractive to look at. Still, I love the paper. It is difficult to find the thicker notebooks and these might make for excellent writing drops here on Massdrop.
The rest of my notebooks are Canson watercolor notebooks for sketching and illustration and standard traveler's knockoffs that I get on Amazon. The traveler's I use for general note taking, poetry, and brainstorming. For that use, as long as it can handle a fine fountain pen or standard rollerball ink, I am content.
As for pens, I love fountain pens inked with Noodler's Black, various Iroshizuku, or Sailor inks. I use a fine nib Lamy Safari inked with Noodler's Black for my bullet journal and an assortment of italic medium nib fountain pens for the journal inked in various colors. Notes are done with a Platinum Plasir or Retro 51 rollerball.
I found a lovely company--Bindewerk--that does simple and beautiful hand-made felt journals out of Germany. For journalling (poems and observational fiction mostly, I don't draw well enough to warrant blank pages, they offer those too). There is minimal bleed through from dip pens, where you can tell a page has writing on it, but it's not very noticeable. I love the soft cover, the way it lies flat on any page, and the colours! Oh the colours. The deepest of lapis blues, ochre timbres all the way to emerald. Gorgeous tome tones, all of them. And there are even then multiple sizes, from A4 down through little pocket-sized ones. The problem is that shipping to North America is an additional 37€, for a 22€ notebook! Buying in bulk is a good way to save!
A great book about journaling: Graphic Journaling. Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Right now I’m using just a heavy weight, good quality blank journal from Barnes & Nobel. I’ll be finishing it up soon. I only got back into fountain pens about a year ago and decided to start journaling again sometime after that. But once this journal is finished, I’m moving into a big, sexy Tomoe River journal with lots of pages. I disagree with an earlier commenter who stated that 52 gsm and 68 gsm Tomoe River paper take ink the same way. I wish they did. The heavier paper doesn’t reveal the breadth of all that an ink has to offer in color and shading (I’m not sure about sheen) that the 52 gsm does. I don’t know that it’s an enormous difference, but I wish I’d known as much about it as I do now before I’d purchased this 500 page Tomoe River journal with 68 gsm paper. Still, Tomoe is superior to practically everything else out there if you’re all about enjoying the ink. And, unfortunately, I’m helplessly, hopelessly drawn to the colors and all their nuances and characteristics. (Really, how many great shading orange inks can one person need?)
I’ve been enjoying a notebook purchased from a store on Etsy called Taroko Shop. The notebook is a softcover book called Mystique and has dotted 80 gsm paper. I love using fountain pens but for now am mostly sticking to disposable ones like the Pilot Varsity and very affordable ones from Lanxivi and Jinhao. Everything writes great, just without the customizabity of more expensive products. I mostly use my notebook for bullet journaling.
A query for y’all though— my husband is looking to get a gridded notebook that can fold back the cover and lay flat. Ring bound is preferred over spiral bound. Any suggestions?
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Thank you! I‘ll pass this along and see if it appeals to him. :)
Here are a couple more pics to help. Any excuse to get my pens out and write! This should give him a little idea how the paper takes inks of different types. Again hope this helps.

I have around 4 journals that i accumulated this year for some reason. Daler Rowney is my daily user and the other 3 i have no idea how i got those. I just started using Pigma pens/markers to write in my notebooks because they are consistent and not leaky or runny. I am new to this journal/ note taking habit which i think is very important when you want to keep your thoughts organized and keep growing. Like Jim Rohn said don't use your head as a filing cabinet. Thank you
I am surprised to hear that you are using a Daler Rowney book. I tried one, because of the price and availability, but found the paper rough, too absorbent (it ate fountain pen ink), and inks bleed or feather. Even Pigma pens feathered. Maybe I got a 'bad' one? I now only use a Zebra rollerball pen with it, but would prefer to use fountain pens, since I experience less hand fatigue with them.
Kaweco sport, fine nib, J Herbin Poussiere de Lune in Fabriano Ecoqua. I favor slim A5 notebooks for daily journalling and quick sketches. I like that they take up less space and can be changed often - my favorites so far are Life Stationery but I also like Clairefontaine, Rhodia, JustWrite... I was sad to find that Leuchtterm had show through because I do like the paper and form factor otherwise.
At work I like B5 notebooks that can be refilled eg. Lihit lab, Kurufit, King Jim etc. which I can move pages around or remove for archive.
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Hopefully you didn’t have anything important wrecked! The paper feels solid in the hand so that doesn’t surprise me. But most recently I tried Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku and Colorverse Supernova - both feather on the L!ife paper. I’m using the “stenographer“ notepad, which I’m assuming is the same paper they use in their notebooks, but maybe I’m wrong?
It was hard for me to find out the difference between various Life products. I ended up emailing the retailer, who told me that the same paper is used in every notebook. However I not know that's not the case as I have used the Kappan and Schopfer. The Kappan paper is definitely thicker (this is the one that took a cup of coffee). The Schopfer paper, while slightly thinner, handled fountain pens and light watercolour. I have read that the Noble Note paper is more like laid paper (I.e. with horizontal lines formed in the grain of the paper). I have not tried it. I also have a pad of airmail paper. It is good quality but I don't enjoy using fountain pens on it - the texture makes my pens drag a little and act dry.
I have a number of notebooks I use. A A5 Leuchtturm1917 (I don't get the issues some people seem to get), Red N' Black, (A4 - both case bound and wire bound). Of course, I do have Rhodia and Tomoe River for correspondence. I also have Basildon Bond (nice British paper)
I have used the Red N'Black legal pads for years, but I can't find them anymore. They do have the spiral notebooks still available. I have always thought their paper was great for fountain pens. You are the first person to have ever mentioned them. I live in Ohio and they have a large Pen Show every November in Columbus. At the show they have many vendors that carry paper products, but I have never found any show vendors that carry it. When asked they have never heard of the brand.
I live in Ohio as well and have usedRed N Black. I have only been able to find their products in my local RiteAid pharmacy.
I used to use Kokuyo loose-leaf (was fairly cheap for me as a student) but I recently found another notebook from maruman which is cheaper and better (no bleed-through, no feathering). The paper is slightly toothier (I think... might just be my fine-point). It's the N246ES (costs 6 SGD over here at kinokuniya).
The Apica CD notebooks are also really nice to write on, although I would recommend only getting sizes B5 and above, since the smaller sizes can be really hard to write on. If you ever find yourself in Japan (Ginza) go get a few on the cheap at Itoya. I used to really like Rhodia but they got too expensive for me :(
Pen-wise, I'm using a Pilot Vanishing Point EF for most of my writing (JP, CN & EN). I got a Sailor 1911 Demonstrator with an EF, but even then it's a bit too wet for my taste so I can only really use it for larger fonts in English. Not too sure how to go about finding a pen meister to tune it either.
Pencil wise, I've always been a fan of the Kuru Toga series, although I must say that I think their plain plastic editions are much better than the 'professional', plated metal versions. I've tried the Pentel superfine mechanical pencils too but they really weren't any good... Looking forward to trying the DelGuard but why mess with an established formula when I don't have the money to do so.
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I had wanted to get a Platinum 3776 because of the nib but the design really just didn't appeal to me (black cigar design with other colours...) The Sailor 1911 cigar shape only got through cos of the gold demonstrator :) The Pilot VP was a nice choice of pen too so i decided to spring for that instead of the 3776. Reckon i'll just get my pens tuned a little.
Get your pens tuned for sure, since you spent the money on them - but since a Platinum Preppy is literally only a few bucks, try one of the super fine ones if you get a chance. They’re good pens and really affordable.
I have a few different books for journaling.
For my daily journal, I use a Webnotebook. I like the hard cover and the quality of the paper. It's very smooth, never bleeds through, and there is barely any show through with a fine or medium fountain pen. I keep a dozen pens inked up, and rotate through them for journaling for variety, and to keep them flowing well.
I also keep a Taroko Design Enigma for my longer form writing. It's a 400+ page journal made with Tomoe River's slightly thicker paper, at 68gsm, as opposed to the crinkly 52gsm. I prefer the feel of the slightly thicker pages, though the way they take ink is the same. I keep it in a cloth Kinboi cover I got from Amazon that came with a Japanese planner. I reserve the first few pages as a table of contents and number the odd pages myself as I go.
For work, I use an X-17 notebook from Germany. It's a leather cover with multiple elastics for inserting A5 sized thin notebooks, similar to ones used in a Travelers Notebook. The model I got has four elastics, so it can take four books. I split them up for meeting notes, clients and projects. The book looks nicer than a standard Travelers book, and lays flat more easily. It also has the bonus of allowing me to swap out inserts as needed as new clients and projects are worked on. I get the inserts from Taroko Shop for these also, as I love their paper.
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I bought it directly from their website. I have not found a domestic distributor for their products.
I would try it. At worst, you buy an insert or two to replace the ones you write in, and make it a nice present for someone.
Lately, I have tried the Franklin Christoph notebooks, and their paper is also fantastic. It is not as smooth as Rhodia's, but never bleeds, and it glides well enough with all my pens. It's also pure white, which some people prefer, but the dots are a bit more prominent. When they come up on Massdrop, you can get three of them for under $40.
I tend to use a variety of pens - I'm still in college so there are some instances where I have to take notes related to class (even though I'm in design school some of my classes are more "traditional" per se). I've tried keeping separate notebooks for various things but I find I tend to lose track of everything and/or simply misplace the notebook.
What I found works for me is keeping absolutely everything in one notebook. This includes any notes for classes, jobs, doodles, design sketches, task/to-do lists etc. I get the feeling that is unconventional (lol) but for some reason having everything in one place helps keep my mind organised, although I'm sure to the outsider it seems like there is no organisation at all! This allows my journaling to take on sort of a bullet journal/mindmap/sketchpad hybrid which seems to work for my purposes.
I'm not partial to a particular brand (although I really like Clarefontaine and Leuchtturm1917) - I am fairly open to anything and everything, including cheap $5 notebooks from the standard office supply store (though that does cause me some problems with bleed-through. I generally prefer lined paper, although a lot of the time I don't stay within them; the lines are a vertical grid that helps me keep track of where I am on the page, as my notes and sketches tend to move fluidly around the page rather than on a strict top-bottom, left-right orientation.
I prefer using pens, although I do have a couple mechanical drafting pencils in my kit. I have a modest collection of pens from disposable and cartridge/converter rollerballs to relatively inexpensive fountain pens (generally I don't buy the more expensive pens as I prioritise utility and function over collectability - pens that I can drop, abuse, and lose without too much consequence) :)
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I agree with you about sticking to a single notebook, and about being pragmatic about writing utensils (use what you can afford to lose).
After misplacing my 'book of everything' once (I found it, eventually), I decided to split into 4 notebooks (pocket, personal journal, work/continuing education, sketchbook). Only the pocket notebook goes everywhere I go, and is used much as you describe. I bought a cover for the pocket notebook, so it has a consistent look (regardless of brands), making it easier to identify, and nice enough looking for meetings.
Love this: "bullet journal/mindmap/sketchpad hybrid"!
So there is special paper for fountain pen writing?
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Never had a problem with mine, but I quit using them a few years back (not enough pages)—and as you say, each series is quite different.
Good point about supporting local specialty pen stores. Thank you.
#ImInOutdoorSpecialtyRetail #ShopSmall #ShopLocalFirst
This sounds fun. Let's begin!
Personally, I use a number of journals, depending on what I am doing. I use a Bullet Journal (Leuchtturm 1917) day in and day out for business related tasks, with a fountain pen or ink gel pen depending on what sort of notes I am taking (fountain pen for the notes and ink gel for the calendars usually).
When I am writing stories, I am usually using a "Paperforfountainpens" journal that is exclusively Tomoe River paper (cream), and a fountain pen.
Which fountain pen I use depends on the day and what I have inked up. I have a large collection.