We've talked about why journaling is important to you and to your current/future partners, so let's get into the types of journals. This week we'll talk about physical journals. Next week we'll cover blogging and then the final week I plan on pulling it all together and answering your questions and responding to your suggestions.
Selecting a journal will depend on your writing style and what you've decided is the purpose of the journal. But there is no shortage of styles, if the selection at the bookstore is any indication! There are few things to think about before buying on impulse when you see that amazing Tardis notebook or that beautiful hand painted covered one. While I don't want you to pick a notebook that you'll not love writing in (and caressing and hugging... is that just me?) let's consider what's important to you.
Notebooks come in a variety of sizes. There are large A4 size notebooks to personal size to even smaller pocket size. So how do you decide what you want? Think about where you will use it most. If you don't plan to carry it with you then a larger notebook might be suitable. My notebook sits open on my desk all day so I can use the larger one if I want to but have found the A5 (5.5" x 8.5") is my preferred size. If I carried it with my in my purse I'd probably want a pocket size.
If you aren't sure what size you'd want, shop for a cheap test notebook that you can write in to get a feel for journaling and the other preferences you might have. Once you have a size you like, you can get "the real thing".
Hard or Soft cover
I have notebooks that are hardcover and others that are soft. My personal preference is hard cover if I plan on keeping the notebook in an archival state or depending on the topic. Yes, I have a lot of notebooks for different things and as an adult I realized that spiral notebooks really aren't where I want to write. I want the pretty notebooks!
Soft cover notebooks can take a beating, bend into your purse and are great for someone who is a bit harder on their notebooks. Hard cover don't do well in rough environments and the damage can lead to the pages falling out, the cover splitting and the corners peeling. But if you are more gentle with your books, a hard cover may be your preference. They look lovely on a shelf too if you like to display your journals.
Bound, Spiral or Binder
As I mentioned earlier, I used to write only in spiral bound notebooks, the kind you can get 10 for $1 at Back to School Sales. Then the spiral would get bent, the pages would wear and the paper quality was so bad that the pens I used ghosted and bled through. I always admired the journals at the book store but thought they were only used for art or diaries. Boy was I wrong. They are some of my favorite ways to note down anything that isn't a shopping list.
So, when you go to pick out a notebook consider how you might use it and how long you are going to keep it. The most common long-term book is bound; either threaded and stitched pages or glue bound. I prefer stitched because the pages lay flat better and since my main journal sits open on my desk all day that's a feature I like. I you think you might like to rearrange your pages and oraganize them after they are written then a binder or disc bound system could work better for you. Look at all the options and pick one that you'll love using.
Blank, Lined, Dot Grid or Graph
Now that we've looked at the outside of the book, let's check out the writing surface. In my opinion, the most important part of a journal. While many have a color desired for their paper, I don't. But what I am picky about is if there are lines or not. Lined journals are fine for standard diaries and note taking. But even then the space between the lines might be important to you. Blank pages are fantastic for art and doodle journals. It could also be a good pick if you want to use your journal as a scrapbook.
Two more sophisticated options are graph paper and dot grid. Both of these lay the paper out in a grid pattern. One with just dots to help you form your own lines, boxes and shapes while the other is full on grid that can work for the same purposes. I lean toward dot grid if I can find it. It works for making lines of text, and I can't write straight if there are no lines. But if I need to make a chart or a task list it does this job beautifully too. And better yet, when held at a reading distance the dots fade away so you are left with a clean looking page.
I have a couple graph notebooks that I use for charts and gaming notes. I love their flexibility in making tables for player stats and what not.
What's important is you find a page that works for you and you enjoy writing on. Paper quality is important as the tooth of the page could cause your pen to drag and that fatigues your hand faster. I like at least 70 g paper but higher weights are nice if you plan to use markers or fountain pens. I never buy a notebook that I can't touch the paper inside. If the journal is wrapped and I'm really interested in it otherwise I will ask an employee to open it. I've only had one person say they couldn't do that.
In the end, finding the right journal is the first step to making it a regular habit and one that you'll enjoy for years to come. I'm sold on journals and use them for almost everything throughout my home, work and life. Tomorrow we'll talk about breaking in your journal and preparing to put ink to paper for the first time. See you then.