In part one of 50 ways to fill a notebook, I suggested ten ideas to help you fill all those empty notebooks you’ve got laying around. Now you’ve kick-started your novel and initiated a dream diary, here are ten more suggestions so you can justify your next notebook haul.
11. Track your habits
It takes, on average, around 66 days to form a habit. Whether your goal is to drink 8 glasses of water each day or meditate for ten minutes, those first few weeks are tough going. And it’s all too easy to fall off the wagon. A habit tracker can help you through.
Tally marks (or five-bar gates as I prefer to call them) are the simplest way to keep count, but why not have some fun with it. Choose a shape, draw out as many as matches your target and then colour them in as you go. Maybe even create a ritual around it, by using a special pen and setting aside a time to update it at the end of each day – or as often as you need. The act of tracking your habits in this way feels so rewarding. A pocket notebook is ideal as its easy to carry around with you. Be sure to choose a brand with good quality paper if you are planning to do any colouring – there’s nothing worse than show through.
12. Birthday book
Yes, you can probably find out through Facebook, but a dedicated birthday book means you can plan enough in advance to send a card via snail mail. A much better way to show you care than a simple series of emojis. A durable notebook is best, you’re going to want to keep hold of it for a while so chose a hard cover. And make sure you have space for other important dates that might require a card, such as wedding anniversaries.
13. Record all the nice things people say about you
A throwaway comment from a friend, or an email acknowledging a piece of work well done – gather them all in a single notebook. Plain pages allow for embellishment. You might even want to go scrapbook style and paste things in – stickers, glitter glue, whatever will give you a pick me up when you read it back.
14. Handwriting practice
Beautiful handwriting is everything – especially if you’re a planner addict or a snail mail correspondent. Buzzfeed has collated samples of penmanship that ticks all the boxes. But it’s not something that comes naturally to all of us. A fountain pen can help, but regular practice is best. Choose an A4 notebook with blank pages that are tough but thin. Insert a sheet of guidelines and work on your alphabet. I’ve got a board dedicated to bettering my lettering over on Pinterest – feel free to check it out. There’s a great post on how to write like they do in Kikki K – yes, that is a thing.
15. Write a bucket list
Dedicate a hardy notebook to all the places you want to go and the things you want to experience. Then tick them off one by one. Even better – write mini reviews and paste in ticket Stubbs or printed photos. Dedicated listographies offer prompts that can act as a handy inspiration. Waterstones usually stock a great selection. The other name for these is list journals. They’re a personal favourite of mine – I’ve posted on my collection and the reasons I like them.
You don’t need to be blessed with artistic talent to have fun drawing things. Flowers, stars, boxes, spirals – anything will do. And you’ll usually have a default that you turn to during dull meetings – mine’s bubble writing. Your doodles can reveal a lot about you – there’s a great analysis and some gorgeous examples in this article by a leading graphologist. Choose a large notebook that will give full scope to your creativity.
National Doodle Day falls on 22 September. For more details, and other dates for your diary, pop over to my post Days for Stationery Addicts to Celebrate.
17. Ink testing
One for the fountain pen addicts. Try out new colours or scribble to get the flow right when you change cartridges while out and about. Note down the name of the ink and observe how it dries before committing to it in an important document.
18. Write poetry
Haiku and limericks are perhaps the most accessible, but acrostics can also be lots of fun if this is not something you usually do. Below, a recent effort for National Limerick Day.
19. Record appointments
I kept all my appointments logged in my phone – and was notorious for missing them. Especially the dentist. The act of writing down these key dates and times will help cement them in your mind so they’re harder to forget. You might even want to put a reminder in a week in advance.
20. Morning pages
I’ve met many people who gush about morning pages. First thing, when you wake, you must fill three pages of A4 with stream of conciousness writing. The practice was popularised by Julia Cameron in her book The Artists Way. I think of it as being particularly powerful for writers, but the benefits reported are so much more than just fixing writers block.
Reliving stress or anxiety, problem solving – morning pages has been credited by its adherents as the answer to them all. The notebook I use for my morning pages is one of the cheaper ones in my collection. I chose it because I wanted a notebook that I would be happy to fill with the most random of things.
Tried any of these? Let me know in the comments what notebooks you recommend if so.