Tag Archives: Moleskine

Journal Friday: Smorgesbord

Diary Pile 2I’m feeling a bit rough at the moment, so I’ve been spending a lot of time surfing the internet.  Its a good thing to do when my brain is mushy like this.  I have trouble parsing long  blocks of text, so little blog posts and internet sites are just the thing to keep my mind occupied and spark new ideas.

So I thought I’d share some of my journalling current faves with you:

I just bought this book.  Its written for teenagers, but its a brilliant introduction, and I am really enjoying dipping into it.

Loving this artjournal site.  So much eyecandy!

I love Bronwen’s Artful Life blog, and I really fancy trying her method of creating an art journal from a vintage book.

Have you come across creativebug.com yet?

I recently came across the idea of the Bullet journal, which was new to me.   Its a kind of cross between a to do list, a project planner and a journal.  Might be a great solution if you are pushed for time and looking for a way of combining recording your life with planning it!

On a similar theme, you might be interested in the whole idea of sketchnoting.  Check out the website of the Sketchnote Army, a pretty breath-taking archive of how to record information graphically.  You could combine Sketchnotes and Bullet journals, and you don’t have to be able to draw…

Lorraine Bell’s planner is delicious!

My Pinterest pinboard on organisers is continually growing.

If you love Moleskines, their myMoleskine site will bend your mind!

I love Plannerisms!

Well, that should keep you going for a while!  Hope you have a happy and creative weekend,








The Writer’s Notebook

Writers nbk planning 22-04-2013 14-59-52 3648x2736

My spiral bound writers notebook – these pages show planning for a historical novel I am working on.

Every craftsman needs a workbench.  The notebook is to a writer what a workbench is to a carpenter.  Every book about how to write will tell you that.  The trouble is that there are as many ways to keep a writing notebook as there are carpenters’ workbenches.  So I thought I would say a little bit about this most basic of skills.

Your notebook travels with you continually, wherever you are.  It is the hopper into which you throw all the useful scraps you collect on your journey through life.  It is like a memory that you carry with you – one that won’t malfunction, unless you drop it in a pond or set fire to it, of course!  This is where you scribble all your ideas, the clever sentences and metaphors you dream up, the quotes that inspire you, the snippets of conversation you overhear on the bus.  In the old days, this was called a Commonplace Book, something like a scrapbook, but one in which you record more than events.  It is a little like your journal, but more functional.  I always like to think of mine as a record of the development of my mind.

Most teachers suggest you start out with one notebook.  The important thing to know is that this is a skill that evolves, ebbs and flows.  You will find a comfortable way to do it after a while, a way that fits into your lifestyle and way of working. In anycase, to start out, choose yourself a notebook that will stand heavy use, and one that you like (otherwise you won’t be drawn to write in it.)

I use an A4 hardbacked spiral bound lined notebook by Pukka Pad, which I love.  I can fold it over, stick things into it, draw diagrams, and because the cover is plain, I can decorate it however I like.

However, A4 is a BIG size, and its not something I can just stick in my pocket and carry everywhere.  As a result, I’ve evolved a second notebook.  It is a tiny Moleskine, which I carry in my handbag. It is hardback too, so it withstands a great deal of getting knocked about, and chocolate stains.  This is my scribble place, where I note things down on the move.


My baby moleskine lives in my handbag. Snippets get stuck into these, as well as overheard conversations and quotes.


Just to prove notebooks don’t have to be neat, or be devoted solely to your writing life – this one also has details of some tights my mum wanted me to buy her!

This is a method of recording that I have developed over time.  It may not work for you.  You may need to keep everything in one place, in a single book, or you may need several different notebooks for different purposes.  It depends on how you work, so it will be different for everyone.  There is no one right way.  But I suggest you start with a single notebook to make life easier.

Here are some things you can do with it:

  • Reflect on where you are with your writing, and what you would like to achieve
  • Scribble down a paragraph that comes to mind
  • Record useful or inspiring quotes
  • Plan your stories
  • Write your characters’ back stories
  • Draw pictures of your characters, or collect photos of actors and actresses who put you in mind of them
  • List books you might like to read
  • Do writing exercises
  • Stick in interesting newspaper stories for future inspiration
  • Stick in inspiring pictures or postcards
  • Review books you have read, movies or TV shows you have seen, art exhibitions you have visited, music gigs you have enjoyed
  • Take notes at meetings of writers groups you attend
  • Note ideas for new stories or characters
  • Mindmap plots
  • Draw diagrams
  • Describe the weather (you wouldn’t believe how useful this can be when you are trying to write action set on a sunny August day but living through a wintry November afternoon!)
  • Doodle
  • List music that inspires you. (A playlist for every novel really helps set the mood for writing)
  • Potential character names – I came across someone called Theodicy Godbolt one day when  I was researching 16th Century British History – you couldn’t make that one up!
  • Whatever else takes your fancy – it’s your notebook!

There is one absolute that every writer’s notebook should have at the back.  A list of words and their meanings that you come across.  Every writer should be expanding their vocabulary all the time.  Come across a new word?  Write it down somewhere you can refer to it, and then you will remember it!

writers nbk sticking things in 22-04-2013 15-00-41 3648x2736

Sticking in pictures of actors who inspire you can be useful!

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  I’m going to talk a lot more about notebooking in future posts, not least because I am a notebooking fanatic, but you might like to grab yourself a pad and pen and start scribbling right now.  And if this doesn’t inspire you, maybe you might like to read this, or this, which is one of the best books on writing I have ever read.

Journal Friday: Why Keep a Journal?

Diary Pile 2

Every Friday we will be talking about Journalling here at Evenlode’s Friend.  Today, we are starting right at the beginning – why would you bother?

My story

I’ve been keeping a diary or journal (I use the two words interchangably) for 38 years.  (Please don’t do the Maths!)  On my seventh birthday, my father took me out to our local county town, beautiful Winchester, as a special treat.  I had been given a WH Smith token for £2, which was a lot of money in those days, so we went shopping.  I fell in love with a hardback blank page A5 journal.  The cover was cream, with little chocolate brown fleur de lis on it. It was £2, all I had, but I had to have it.   My father asked me what I was planning to do with it, and I said I didn’t know.  I shall never forget what he said:

You should keep a diary.  Every young lady should keep a diary.

And that was it.  Thirty-eight years later, I am still doing it.  But why have I kept going that long?  After all,  there must be more than my father’s kindly injunction.


My diary has been my friend and confidante through good times and bad,  In it, I have confided my grief at my father’s death, and my joy at the births of my nieces and nephews.  I have recorded my struggles with anorexia, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I have worked through emotional issues.  I have raved about my lovers, and often I have raved at them.  I have documented my marriage and my creative life.  I have made lists and plans,  and scribbled cartoons, stuck in newspaper clippings, and written page after page of thoughts and feelings that I could share with nobody else.  My diary has been safe place where I could work things out.  It has been my therapist, my friend and my memory.

But there is more!  My diary is the springboard into my creative life.  I always write my diary before I begin a creative writing session.  I find it clears the everyday worries and grumbles out, so that I can start with the clean slate of my imagination.  It is also a place where I can write about the problems I might be having with a particular story or project, or acts as a kind of ideas book for new things I might try.  It is a kind of creative mentor, a place to encourage myself, a place to prepare for the joy of creativity.


As I have said above, I don’t just write in my diary.  I draw and stick things in.  I am a very visual person, and sometimes it is easier to record an image of something in my head than to try and write it down.  Usually cartoons are the result of trying to explain a feeling.  Once its out on the page, especially if its a feeling I am having trouble with, like the ‘grumpy bear’ feeling shown in the picture above, it dissipates.

I hand write my diaries.  With a fountain pen.  Partly this is because I feel I want to make something beautiful, and I think handwriting is an act of making art.  But mainly it is because I believe that my hand makes a direct connection with my subconscious brain.  It makes it easier to express what is going on inside – sometimes to express things I don’t even know I am thinking until they come out!

(If you are paranoid about how bad your handwriting is, and use that as an excuse to type, let me assure you that if you continue to neglect it, it will be bad.  I have been practising for thirty eight years.  People say that my handwriting is good.  Practise makes perfect.  And if it isn’t, well, who cares?   Its only you thats going to see it anyway!)


I keep my main journal in a hardback A5 notebook with blank pages.  I am currently using the Moleskine kind, which you can find here.  I like blank pages because I occasionally draw.  I like the A5 size because it is portable and fits in a handbag easily.  I’ve experimented with all shapes and sizes over the years, but this is the one that consistently works for me.


Lots of people begin a diary on 1st January, meaning to write an entry every day.  By about the 15th, they have usually given up.  For some people, it happens every year.

My main rule for journal-keeping is this:

Write when you have something to say.

Don’t feel you have to write some inane babble every day, just for the sake of it, though some people do write every single day and find the discipline invigorating.  I don’t.  If I try that, it becomes a SHOULD and then I very quickly fail.  Don’t set yourself up for a fall.  Write only when you need to.  You will know when that is.  (It has worked for me for 38 years, after all, and I can’t recommend something I haven’t personally tried, can I?)

Journal Friday Exercise:

Do you fancy keeping a journal?  Are the benefits listed above something you would like?  This weekend, why not go out and see if you can find yourself a nice notebook to write in.  Something you are drawn to, that you like to handle and use, but not so beautiful that you are afraid to write in it.  There are all kinds of arguments for different sizes and bindings of notebooks, from paperbacked and spiral bound, to hardbacked tooled leather.  Consider your lifestyle and how you mean to use it.  Do you plan to write it only at your desk, or in bed, or will it need to be sturdy enough to travel around in your bag?  Above all, find something you like.  If you don’t like it, you won’t use it.

Make sure you write your name and contact details inside the cover.  That way, if you lose it, some nice person can always return it to you.

Next Friday, I will offer you a journal prompt to get you going, but if you want to write something in the meantime, either just get going, or think about what you want to get out of writing a diary, and write that down.  And don’t forget to date your entry!

Happy Journalling,

love, Evenlode’s Friend.