Four journals on my writing desk


In 2013, I began using the Bullet Journal method, frequently either paired with a Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 A5 hard-cover notebook and a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil. An A5 journal still serves as my filtered inbox. A trick I learned after Reading David Crensaw’s book The Myth of Multitasking, where he suggested using one inbox for everything, or was that in David Allen’s Getting Things Done? Either way, I picked up the practice of using a journal as my inbox.

However, I craved a better long-form writing experience; pencils were okay, but ballpoint and gel pens didn’t suit me. I eventually picked up my first fountain pen, a TWSBI Eco with a fine nib, during the pandemic around 2020. Since then, I have explored the idea of finding the perfect combination of pen, notebook, and ink. Along the way, I realized my preferences changed.

My Daily Journal

Ideally, cream paper, unlined, blank page, A5 notebook, or warm paper is suitable for pencil sketches or inky, messy notes and incomplete thoughts. I have a preference for darker inks, particularly reds. However, different shades of black and blue-black are a close second. Hard or soft cover will do as long as the cover and binding hold up to a year of daily use and tossing about.

I usually pair this daily journal with a fine or medium nib Pilot Prera, particularly for its slip cap, my perfect multi-purpose combination for all but prolonged writing sessions.

Long-Form Writing

Another A5, but with ruled cream paper, and I didn’t expect to enjoy it. Restricting myself to lined pages guides my hand and helps keep my thoughts grounded. I don’t get distracted by drifting rows of text, which keeps me in a mind-like water focus as I write. I always pair this activity with a Pilot Custom 823 and Pilot blue-black to reduce my cognitive load by avoiding a decision. I grab the book and pre-filled pen and find a comfortable place for a long writing session.

Using a separate journal for long-form writing is distraction-free and forward-thinking. I don’t flip pages to notes or projects in my daily journal and often keep my smartphone with its pointless notifications in another room or on mute. If a stray idea pops up, I’ll reach for my pocket notebook instead.

The Pocket Notebook

My leather passport wallet holds a Muji or Field Notes pocket notebook. The intention is to resist grabbing my phone. The wallet is always on me and an alternative to unlocking my device, opening an app, and swiping over the glass with my thumb. I pair the notebook wallet with a Kaweco Sport using an extra-fine nib and Noodler’s Black ink.

The Kaweco is rugged and holds up to bouncing in my front pants pocket, gets scuffed up against my keys, and Noodler’s black is thick enough not to drip into the cap.

Travel Companion

A Traveler’s Company Notebook is perfect for occasions where I want to bring just one notebook, larger than my passport wallet, and if I’m comfortable carrying it around. The modular design allows for different inserts and combinations of paper, and I could use it as an oversized wallet. However, its flexibility makes it thick; all these individual notebooks, inserts, and accessories take up space, and the notebooks rarely lay flat when open.

Hobonichi Techo

This year, I’m experimenting with using this cutesy A6 planner to recap my day. I may have more on that in the future post.





One response to “Journals”

  1. DJ Billings Avatar

    “The intention to resist grabbing my phone” is motivational for me. I use the bullet journal method, too, but I would like to get away from phone notes altogether. Food for thought!

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