Papergang Subscription Box No. 21 Review

Pawsome Christmas accessories from Papergang

As the proud owner of a rescue dog, my tiny terrier Posy, I was super excited for the November Papergang Box in support of Battersea Dogs & Cats home.  And it did not disappoint.  Fortunately Posy was not around to see it delivered – the Postie is her nemesis.

Posy with a savage summer haircut

The box arrived in the last week of the month and as usual there were lots of fabulous things inside. A complete Christmas kit with all things needful for festive gift-giving. Especially for all the dog and cat people in your life.

Full disclosure, in this review I *may* have got a touch carried away with the pet-related puns. Please don’t judge me for it.

Cat-tastic cards

The box contains six cards in total – two of each design. A disgruntled cat tangled up in fairy lights. A dapper dachshund complete with obligatory pun. And finally a bulldog in festive fair isle.

It’s the expressions on the animals faces that I love most about these illustrations, I think. Each has so much character and personality.

Notebook

A chunky notebook with lined pages means that just like dogs, this Papergang box is not just for Christmas. On the inside cover an excitable Dalmatian. The simple cover title will sit nicely alongside my collection of functional cover titles. Some of my favourite notebook covers feature words in some form or another. If you feel the same, you might enjoy the post I dedicated to them.

The spotty cover is a subtle reference to the Battersea cause

Wrap

This quality paper features the same illustration as the outer box – dogs and cats in party hats. This was a welcome feature as the boxes are always so beautifully designed. There were two sheets – I reckon it would be enough for at least four bookshaped gifts. Yes – all the gifts I give are (note)book related!

I save all my Papergang outers from a paper craft project I’ll probably never get round to. I’ve got some downtime over Christmas so I’ll ‘gram what I make…as long as it’s vaguely recognisable!

Gift tags

Three of these in traditional Christmas colours. This year I’m wrapping the majority of my gifts in brown paper with red and green accents, so these will be just purrfect. And the red and white string to attach them is a helpful touch.

In summary

I’m pretty pleased with this Papergang box overall. It feels like good value and I can see myself putting all the items to good use in the next few weeks.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about my last two Papergang boxes is the little booklet that is now included. It works particularly well for this box as there is space for Battersea to speak about their cause and the importance of thinking things through before inviting a four-legged friend into your family. The full interview appears on the Papergang blog.

There is also a Q&A with box designer Allison Black. This is great for picking up little tidbits about the design process. But I can’t say I agree with her about the ‘ugly bulldog in the ugly sweater’. Posy has one just like it! Awkward.

Posy’s Christmas jumper game is strong

Received the November Box? Let me know what you thought in the comments.

 

My Nano in Notebooks

Now Nano is upon us, I thought it might be helpful to share a little on my creative process. No prizes for guessing that it’s all about the notebooks!

Nano, or Nanowrimo to give it its official title, is a month-long novel writing challenge. Sign up, write just over a thousand words for every day in November and by the end of it, you’ll have the best part of a novel. What’s not to love.

How I’ll be using my notebooks this Nano

I stumbled upon Nano around five years ago. In that time, I’ve only won once, but this year, I have a new sense of purpose. Back in September, I made a conscious decision to take my writing  more seriously. And Nano, and the notebooks I’ll use to complete it, will be a big part of this.

I always begin my novel projects in long-hand. That’s to plan as well as write. Somehow I just think better in analogue. And since I started using new notebooks in new ways, my work-in-progress has definitely improved.

If you’re taking on Nano this year, or if you write all year round, I hope you find this post useful. And if you have any ways of working that you find especially helpful, please take a moment to share them in the comments.

Now onto the notebooks!

My ‘I’d be lost without it’ notebook

I carry this notebook with me everywhere. It contains my plot lines, scene breakdowns, big themes, even Proust questionnaires for my lead characters. Every so often I catch myself wondering what I’d do if I lost it and it actually makes me feel a little panicky. I’ve also written odds and ends of scenes and things.

Everything to do with my story. Ever.

Using a single notebook has served me well until now. But recently I’ve realised that separate notebooks can be more conducive to creativity. This is partly for practical reasons. I forgot to create a contents page when I first started out and now I have to flick through tens of pages to find what I need. But also to help clarify my thinking and ensure I’m using the best tool for the job e.g. lined pages if I’m writing lots, blank pages if I’m mind mapping.

I’m also hoping that employing dedicated notebooks for different tasks will help bring a little discipline to my writing practice. I’m not sure how effective this will be as my approach is naturally scattergun, but I want to focus on one writing-related task at a time. Fingers crossed!

My ‘I want freedom to plan stuff out’ notebook

I get the most out of my planning when I use a form of mind map. And for this, blank pages are best. This sketch book has a neon pink cover and is a super handy size. I carry it with me just in case inspiration strikes when I’m out and about.

My type of mind map

You may be wondering how I’ll ever read any of these notes back. I admit it. Sometimes even I find it difficult to decipher everything I’ve jotted dwn. But it’s probably a fairly accurate representation of all the various ideas that are bubbling away in my mind when I’m planning a scene or, in this case, an essay.

I didn’t realise my note taking was so note worthy until the people I work with commented on it. I’d love to know if there’s anyone else out there who takes notes in a similar way. I’d appreciate a show of solidarity!

My ‘I’m not 100% sure about my structure’ index cards

Ok, ok. I know these aren’t technically notebooks. But they are an essential part of my writing toolkit, so I couldn’t in all conscience leave them out. I use these when I want to outline. Each plot beat is assigned to a single card and as I write, I can add in additional scenes without too much scribbling or crossing out.

Hey, if it works for Nabokov…

This index card method is also great if you’re not entirely sure of the sequence of events in your story. Simply lay them all out on the floor – or a dining table if you don’t live in a teeny tiny flat like I do! And play around until you have an order that you’re happy with. The ability to physically move them is key – don’t ask me why, it just is.

One of my friends does the same thing but with post its on a wall. I prefer index cards because they’re a touch sturdier and you can carry them around with you. But either works.

I recently learned that Nabokov was famous for writing all his novels using index cards. Check out this great post here, which tells how Nabokov’s publisher actually reproduced the cards Nabokov was working on for Laura, his final (unfinished) novel.

My ‘I need help finding my way round Senate House’ notebook

This Field Notes Utility also doubles up as my everyday carry, but has been particularly handy for noting down the locations of the library books I’m using for background research.

For when out in the field, or at Senate House.

The novel I’m working on is Neo-Victorian, set in 1815, and so I’ve been doing a lot of fact checking and original research to add authenticity to my scenes and settings. Even so, I’m forever finding anachronisms. The next piece I work on will definitely be based in present-day London!

My ‘I want to understand every scene’ notebook

I picked up this Midori beauty a few weeks ago.  The pages are silky smooth and just perfect for fountain pen with no show through. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but the pages are off-white so they’re easier to read from. It really is a joy to use.

My Midori Idea Diary in action

I’ve been using it in a similar way to the index cards – exploiting the grid layout to break down the scenes. How the characters feel, what the reader learns etc. It won’t stay this neat for long, mind!

My ‘I need to know my characters’ notebook

This is actually a standard four-subject notebook, but I’m using it to record all the details of my main characters. I’ve been having trouble differentiating them and my readers have been losing track of who’s is who, so it felt important to develop backstories for all of them. And to be able to keep them distinct.

For subjects or subjects

My ‘Am I acting on all my feedback?’ notebook

This is the notebook I’ve been using at workshops to capture feedback and to summarise the key take-outs and how I can action them. I picked it up from Foyles at Charring Cross Road. I got the Midori ideas book at the same time and a Leuchtturm academic diary so it was the first time I went to a book shop and ended up spending more on stationery than novels. It was all worth it, though.

Create a book of my own? Oh, go on then.

The design is one of Foyles’ own. The end papers are what first attracted me. And I’ve since learnt that what I thought of as dots are actually representative of full stops – how cool is that. You can read more about the design process here.

And not forgetting the belly wrap it came with, which more or less commands you to write the bestseller you’ve been dreaming of. The perfect inspiration for all the wannabe writers. What’s more it comes in six different designs and colour ways so when this one runs out, I’ll be able to pick up another that’s similar but different. Great for shelf appeal but also recognising what time period it covers.

In summary

So there you have it – all the notebooks I’ll be using throughout Nano and beyond. Good luck fellow writers! And here’s to a novel-tastic November.

I’m planning a couple of posts on my progress so do sign up or check back to see how I’m getting on.

 

 

50 ways to fill a notebook – part 5

 

This is it. The final post in my series on 50 ways to fill a notebook. Thank you to all those who have joined me on this notebook filling journey over the last few weeks. First timer? You might want to start from the beginning: 50 ways to fill a notebook part one, part two, part three and part four.

Up to speed? Read on for your final notebook filling fix…

41. Present list

I know exactly what presents to buy…until a special occasion arrives. Next time your loved one mentions something they’ve got their eye on, jot it down.

42. Free writing

If you feel like you’ve got too much on your mind, grab an A4 lined pad for some free-writing. Play some music and every couple of minutes use  one of the words you hear as a prompt. This sort of exercise is great for creativity and   quieting a busy mind. And you never know. Read back a little while later and you might find some helpful ideas in there.

43. Travel diary

Got a trip to plan? Choose a leather-bound notebook and jot down your itinerary. Take it with you to capture your thoughts and impressions of new places.

44. Business ideas

Most of us have an idea or two for a game-changing invention or for running our own business. No surprises that I’d love my own little stationery shop. I’ve even gone as far as visualising it via my own stationery story. They may seem like pipe dreams but gather all of these ideas in one notebook and one day it just might be the right time for you to make them happen.

45. Happiness journal

We often schedule chores and other tasks, but the little things that make us happy? Not so much. Diarise time to read a magazine, visit a favourite place, take time out with a coffee – whatever makes you happy. And in those moments when you feel truly content, write down exactly what it is that you were doing s you can recreate this feeling again. Or relive it in the future.

46. Letters to your future self

I’d normally recommend a proper letter writing set for corresponding via snail mail, but these letters are just for you. If you’re in need of some perspective, write a letter to a future you. The you who came out of the other side of whatever’s going on in your life right now. Or the you after you took that risk or made that change. A lockable notebook will give you free rein to be as open with yourself as you can.

47. Medical/symptoms log

Hopefully you don’t need to visit the doctor too frequently. But for when you do, it’s good to have a pocket notebook with notes on previous visits or current symptoms. In these sorts of stressful situations it’s easy to forget how long you’ve been feeling poorly, or the advice you’re being given so writing it all down will help.

N.B. This works for pets as well as humans! It’s especially useful if you go to a practice where you don’t have a named vet and may need to fill in some gaps in medical history.

48. Colouring in

Not just for little ones, colouring in is a great way to fill a page or two. If you’ve got stamps or cookie cutters lying around, you can fill in the outlines, or even better, doodle some flower petals. If you want something that works on the go, grab a notebook made up of graph paper and fill in the squares. Yes, it’s that simple. Quality paper is best if you’re planning to use felt tips.

49. List of enemies

Inspired by this little beauty by Alice Scott. Ok, so maybe it’s not meant to be taken literally, but teenage me would have been so up for this!

50. Blog post planning

It seemed appropriate to finish up with this one! I use a timeless diary with lots of helpful notes pages at the back.

I hope this series of posts on 50 ways to fill a notebook have given notebook addicts everywhere all the ideas they could ever need to fill their notebooks. But if you do think there are any that I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, happy listing, journalling, mapping, jotting and generally getting ink down on paper.

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed these posts, you might want to check out my Stationery Addict Starter Kit.

50 ways to fill a notebook – part 4


It’s the penultimate part of 50 ways to fill a notebook. And hopefully you’ve been working through your stash of unused notebooks to free up space in advance of your next haul. Here are some more ideas to keep in mind when you’re choosing between lined, blank, dot grid or crosshair.

31. Scrapbook

Scrapbooking is a lovely way to preserve your memories. Choose a notebook with a mix of heavy duty pages that can take ink, paint and tape. Staple in receipts and ticket stubs and glue in pictures. Annotate with hand lettering. And decorate with stamps and stickers. There are tutorials for easy-to-draw scrolls on Pinterest.

32. Track rows and rounds

One for the yarn addicts. Yes, you can get one of those row counters to attach to your needles, but I’ve never quite got on with them. It’s also helpful to see your progress at a glance if you have a project that you only pick up every now and then. I use an A4 pad that I can scribble across.

33. Learning log

Everyday’s a learning day. Note down two or three things you’ve learnt each day in a pocket notebook you keep by your bed. It’s a nice alternative to a gratitude diary. And may help you process the day’s events before you go to sleep.

34. Action list

My to do lists tend to spiral out of control so I prefer an action list, which `I restrict to three items. I keep it in a teeny tiny micro notebook, so I’m not tempted to add too much to it. Only the top priorities make it in.

35. Recipe notes

It’s the tweaks you make to recipes that really lift them. Or better yet, those family ones that only your nana seems to know. Keep a record in a notebook with a plastic cover so you can wipe off any spills when you’re in the kitchen. My own recipe tip? Always add extra garlic.

36. Bullet journal

The bullet journal is described by its founder Ryder Carroll as ‘an analogue system for a digital age.’ It’s a simple method of journalling aimed squarely at productivity. Numerous posts have been written on how to bullet journal and the best monthly spreads and weekly layouts. My personal favourites are Minimalist Bujo and Boho Berry.

If you’re interested in journalling but not sure how best to kick start your practice, you might want to take my quiz – it will help you find the type of journalling that will suit you best.

37. Mind mapping

Got a problem you need to solve? Keep a medium to large notebook with blank pages to hand draw out all the options. A more visual alternative to listing, the mind map is the brain child of Tony Buzan.

38. Resolutions

Resolutions aren’t just for new year. Keep them in a slim handmade notebook and revisit regularly to check in on your progress. Even better, if you keep a notebook solely for this purpose, you’ll be able to add to it year on year.

39. Words and definitions

I love unusual words. Old dialect terms that are fading out or words unique to a specific language are my favourite. Writer Robert Macfarlane shares some great nature-led ones everyday on Twitter. And check out Present and Correct’s feed, too. Or this Buzzfeed article.

I jot them down in a pocket notebook and find a way to weave them in to my day to day writing or conversation. Yes, I’m geeky like that.

40. EveryDay carry

I keep a notebook with me at all times. It’s usually lined, often A5 and is always my current favourite. This means there’s some sort of quote on the cover, or it’s one of my favourite brands. It’s filled with all sorts of things. Lists, doodles, reminders. On occasion, an idea for a story or a problem that I need to get down on paper so it’s out of my head and I can think about something else.

I change up my everday carry about once a month. These are the notebooks I always have the most fun buying.

The final countdown of 50 ways to fill a notebook will be up next week. In the meantime, check out parts one, two and three if you haven’t done so already.

And if you’ve started using any of these ideas, let me know if the comments.

 

I made my own notebook! Book binding workshop review

It’s not unusual to find me gushing about notebooks. But when the notebook has been made by my own fair hand, it stands to reason I’m going to be extra excited.

My handmade notebook

Yep, I made this

The little pamphlet you see here is the result of a book binding taster session I went to last Friday at London’s City Lit. It took just over an hour to pull it all together. And a large chunk of that was spent choosing the papers.

The five-hole stitching – I did that.  Cutting the paper to size – I did that, albeit badly. The fancy folding thing with the cover…well you get the picture. I’ve got a long way to go of course, but am much-encouraged by my first foray into notebook making.

A taste of book binding

The class began with paper selection. I was torn between feathers and ferns for the cover, but went with the latter because it reminded me of a gorgeous planner I’d seen by Day Designer. Next came the selection of the end papers. I briefly thought about orange, but decided on the blue because of its strength.

Our kind, and very patient tutor, Nesta, then gave us a brief run down of the tools on our work benches. We talked about the difference in production value between books made commercially and those made by hand. And how a well- bound book should look like a bird in flight when opened out.

Book binding tools

Next, grain direction. It’s a concept I simply cannot get my head round when it comes to fabric so no surprises that I failed to identify it on cartridge paper. I know to look for the bounce when it’s folded now though. You can try it too,  just fold a piece of paper in half and the edge that folds easiest, with the best bounce, is going with the grain. I think!

Folding, lots of folding

Once correctly folded, we had to cut our sheet down. The folding and cutting was strangely meditative, especially smoothing the folds with the bone folder. My cutter was a little rusty so the edges of my first sheet were a little jagged, but I think it lends the finished notebook a rustic charm – at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Paper trimmed and folded to its finished size, we then nestled it in the end papers and gave a final trim. The whole was folded into the fancy decorative paper before the holes for the stitching were made. I chose a contrasting orange thread. Nesta explained that it was linen that she had dyed by hand.

Five-hole stitching with hand-dyed linen thread

The stitching was relatively straight-forward, mainly because we were closely supervised and then it remained to tuck the outer sheet of cartridge paper into the folded cover and we were all finished.

My book binding next steps

I stayed a little while after the class to find out where I could buy a starter kit. Nesta recommended Hewit’s and Shepherds, so no doubt I’ll be making a trip to Victoria soon to pick up some supplies.

A few days on, I’ve been pinning all sorts of book binding related things on my notebook making board. And have determined that when I grow up I want to be a book binder.

My workstation at the end of the book binding taster session

Now I’ve been through the process once, I believe I could do it again. But to help reinforce what I’ve learnt, I’ve signed up to a second full-day session in October, which will focus on hard-cover binding. Again it will be run by Nesta at City Lit. I’d always thought of book binding as relatively niche but City Lit do all sorts of classes. I’d love to do the ten-part course that kicks off in May next year, but I’ll have to save up for that one.

In the meantime, I just need to decide exactly how to fill my notebook. As you’ll see, I’ve got more than a few ideas!

Ever bound your own notebook? I’d love to see your pictures in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 ways to fill a notebook – part 3

Welcome to part three of 50 ways to fill a notebook. We’re getting to the business end of notebook filling now, so I imagine you’re waking up to do your morning pages and tracking all your habits analogue style. These next ideas should keep you busy on your next notebook shopping trip.

21. Sketch

I love some of the artworks that Moleskine and Leuchtturm fans share on social. Follow both brands on Insta for some truly beautiful drawings and paintings. And then grab your own A5 hardcover, pencils, ink or paint and seek out a beautiful scene to commit to paper.

22. Mood diary

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is not to analyse your life when you’re having a bad day. But if you’re down in the dumps it can feel as though everyday is a bad day. A mood diary can help. Use smiley faces or assign colours to common feelings and colour in a square or shape for each day. Do this for a while and soon you’ll be able to see what triggers your high and lows. An unobtrusive pocket notebook works best, but make sure to choose one with an inspiring cover quote. N.B. There is a direct correlation between good moods and notebook hauls.

23. Budget log

There’s nothing like writing down what you’ve spent to curb your next splurge. Unless it’s on notebooks of course, in which case it doesn’t count! Choose a dot grid or crosshair format and rule in columns for money in and money out. At the end of each week and month you can see exactly how much your flat white habit is costing you. Painful but effective if you’re on an economy drive.

24. Chores

If you hate hoovering as much as I do, you can conveniently forget the last time you got the `Henry out. Use a notebook to plan out a cleaning regime. I’ve got a dot grid which I’ve turned into one of those sheets you see on the back doors of bathrooms in restaurants and hotels. Instead of an hour-by-hour check in, I sign my initials to show I’ve cleaned day-by-day. Hey – whatever helps you get it done.

25. Addresses

A dedicated notebook works best here with tabs for each letter of the alphabet. Even so I tend to create my own – after all, how many people do you know whose surname begins with an X.

If you do start from scratch, something heavy that you’ll feel disinclined to move from its home is good – otherwise you’ll never find it when you need it. And enjoy crossing out and updating details whenever friends and family move. Years later its a lovely way to look back and remember.

26. Novel fodder

Maybe you’ve got a great work-in-progress, but what about when you’re out and about and her a snatch of conversation that you want to capture. Or maybe you’re people watching outside a cafe and want to note down some interesting mannerisms to build up a new character. Writers should always have a notebook with them for just this purpose. Small enough to be portable, yet big enough to flesh out an idea or two I go for a mid-sized, soft covered exercise book.

Depending on how prolific you are, you might want to chose a favourite brand so over time you fill a notebook with novel fodder, you can move seamlessly to another. Moleskine or Leuchturrm would be my recommendation and then you can do the awesome tower/rainbow thing with your collection and share on Insta.

27. 3AM book

You wake up in the middle of the night with a business idea that will make you a gazillionaire. Make sure you keep a notebook by your bedside table to write it down. This is what Kikki K founder Kristina Karlsson did and the rest is history.

It’s not just business ideas though. If you’ve got something on your mind that’s preventing you from sleeping, writing it down gives you permission to park it for long enough to get some rest and come back to it the next day.

28. Meal planner

Map out breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week ahead. Saves time and money and means that when you g shopping, you don’t end up buying loads of random things just because they were on special offer. I encouraged one of my friends to do this and she notes down the calories for each meal beside it so she can track this at the same time.

29. Goals

With so much going on day-to-day its easy to forget your focus. Keep your goals noted down and carry them with you. I have a micro notebook for this, which I’m using alongside my goals journal. I use it just to write down my three goal words for that day and leave the reflection piece for my monthly review.

30. Research/Fact book

I went through a phase of picking a topic that I wanted to learn more about and dedicating an a couple of hours to it once a week. This can be anything from historical battles and their causes, to philosophical concepts, or even the question you didn’t know the answer to in the pub quiz. Once you leave school it doesn’t always feel like there’s much time to learn new things, but this is a way to keep a track of the things that pique your interest day-to-day.

Before you go…

Start at the beginning is good advice whether you’re in Wonderland or elsewhere, so if you’ve stumbled across this then check out my previous posts, 50 ways to fill a notebook part 1 and 50 ways to fill a notebook part 2. You can find part 4 here. And finally, part 5

 

50 ways to fill a notebook – part 2

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.

16. Doodle

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.

What next

Tried any of these? Let me know in the comments what notebooks you recommend if so.

Need more inspiration? You can read on for part three and part four, and finally 50 ways to fill a notebook – part five.

Covered in words – some of my favourite notebook covers

I often find myself drawn to notebook covers that feature words in some form or other. An inspiring quotation, a pithy bon mot, even a simple title.

Now that I’ve started thinking of my notebook stash as a collection, I’m starting to see themes emerge and word-led covers is definitely one of them. Here’s a look at some of my favourites and how I’m using them.

Functional

Brands: Octagon design
Suited to: Home/work

Notebooks with a single-minded purpose

I think of these as Ronseal designs. ‘Notes’, ‘planner’, ‘lists’: they’re formatted with a single and clearly-stated purpose in mind. Often with a utilitarian aesthetic, these notebooks are usually single colour with a serif font. I find myself drawn to notebooks like this when I need a punch of productivity.

I’m using this particular one to plan my blog posts. Its so user friendly I’m thinking of buying a few more in different sizes.

Descriptive

Brands: Kikki K
Suited to: Home/work

Dreams and thoughts are just examples of the notebooks that I’d put in this category. A close relative of the functional notebooks listed above, they allow for a little more flex and creativity as their insides are usually less structured. Calligraphic fonts on colour backgrounds are the norm, think ombre and pastels.  You’ll also see quirky designs, however. Ohh deer have some beautiful tropical ones with cacti and toucans.

Tongue-in-cheek

Brands: Happy Jackson
Suited to: Out and about

Notebooks with tongue-in-cheek covers

These notebooks make me smile  – they’re for the times when I need to feel productive, but I’m not taking myself too seriously. I use these notebooks for personal projects, side hustles – that sort of thing.

Zeitgeist

Brands: Design Ink
Suited to: Out and about

Notebooks that capture a moment

These are the notebooks that are most often exclaimed over. They capture a moment through a particular phrase. Sometimes they can be quite self-revealing. Or contain an eternal truth. I use a notebook of this type as an everyday carry. When the outside is this much fun, I’m less worried about having something particular to put inside.

 

50 ways to fill a notebook – part 1

Notebook addicts in need, look no further.  Here are fifty ways for you to fill the notebooks in your life. And once they’re full? Well, go and buy more of course!

  1. Write a novel

    They say everyone has a novel in them.  I’ve been working on an idea of my own on and off for a couple of years now.  I write longhand because I’m all about the analogue – it’s the perfect way to plough through some pages.  When I’m choosing a notebook for this kind of writing, I prefer wide-ruled, A4 sized. And good quality paper is a must as I’ll be probably be using a fountain pen.  And it has to be a cover that will inspire you.

  2. Keep a gratitude diary

    I’ve been doing this for a while now. Yes, it feels a little forced to begin with, but persevere.  Reading back through your lists is the perfect pick-me-up if you’re having an off day.  I recommend a blank pocket notebook for this – enough space for two or three bullets a day.  But there are lots of dedicated gratitude ones out there.  Kikki K has a great range.

  3. Shopping list

    I used to use a tear-off pad for these and kept forgetting what I’d bought the week before.  I’ve got lots of ground nutmeg now.  Choose a spiral-bound reporter’s notebook. And then if you really do want to take just the one page you can.

  4. Note the books you want to read

    My to-read list was kept on scraps of paper, in the notes section of my phone, on the backs of random envelopes. Now that I’ve almost filled my wall of bookshelves, I have to be a little more selective with the books I buy. I suggest a pocket notebook for this. Create a contents page at the front and dedicate pages for each genre.

  5. Capture quotes

    We’ve all come across a quote that speaks to us. I follow a few accounts on Twitter, but the best ones I capture in a pocket notebook. Choose plain pages and embellish at the edges with scrolls or leaves.

  6. Achievements list

    I’ve written about my achievements lists before.  I write them alongside my to do list everyday. If you’re the sort of person that writes down things you’ve already done just so you can tick them off, this will probably appeal to you. And when you’re swimming in work, it’s good to get a reminder of everything you’ve done as well all the stuff that’s still outstanding.

  7. Password tracker

    I know this goes against all sorts of official advice, but there’s been many occasions when I wish I’d been doing this. Maybe not best for noting down the pin for your debit card, but ideal for random log-ins that you use once a year or less. Just keep it somewhere safe.

  8. Dream Diary

    There’s a few seconds of clarity immediately after you wake when you remember your dreams in perfect detail.  Keep a blank notebook by your bed and write down as much as you can. I’d go for A5 as a minimum – big enough to let your thoughts flow out onto the page, but small enough to fit on your bedside table.

  9. Visitor’s book

    Make like a nineteenth-century hostess and ask your visitors to write you a message before they leave. Hard-bound is best, with thick cream paper that can take all types of pen.

  10. Phone numbers

    This will seem a little random – until you lose your phone. At that point it will come into its own. It might also help you remember some of the more important numbers you need. I’d go for a dedicated notebook here, one that’s got sections for each letter of the alphabet.

Click here for part 2 , here for part 3 and you can find part four here. And five here. Happy notebook filling.

Papergang Subscription Box No. 16 Review

Last week, Friday became Fri-yay when the postie turned up with my June Papergang subscription box. And it felt heavy. Really heavy, which I knew could only be a good thing.

I’d already fallen in love with photographer Susan Castillo’s design from seeing sneak previews on Instagram. And it didn’t disappoint. The moody greens and purples were super atmospheric. And the delicate veins in the leaves absolutely popped.

The look and feel brought to mind the real spirit of fairy tales, Grimm rather than Disney, and was all the better for it. The subject may have been house plants, but I couldn’t help but think enchanted forest.

The other Papergangsters

Of course this post is all about what I found inside my subscription box as well as the gorgeous outer. But before the gushing begins in earnest, I feel I need to take a moment to acknowledge the other paper gangsters on #Papergang. And I don’t mean my fellow stationery addicts.

I’m talking about the champagne-swilling, rhyme-spitting, smoke-blowing, party-going, money-throwing guys and gals who post at will without a notebook in sight. I love that one hashtag can bring two random tribes together in this way. There’s something sort of beautiful about it. Now onto the stationery.

Let the gushing commence!

First up a slim brass ruler – this is where the weight of the box has come from. It’s the perfect size for the Nahe pouch I picked up at Papersmiths the other week. I’ll use it to draw out sections in my dot grid Moleskine bullet journal. It’s so handy to have a ruler that looks like it was made for a grown up. A definite step up from the plastic one I bought as part of a back-to-school geometry set.

Next, a 15cm birthday card. See, already putting that ruler to good use! The inside is blank. And I’ve got the perfect recipient in mind.

Dark Botany notebook by Susan Castillo for Ohh Deer

The notebook is a linen-covered affair entitled ‘Notes’. When you run your fingers across the cover it makes a luxuriant whispery sound. Inside, the pages are lined and feature  a year, month, day prompt to the top left. It feels substantial and well worth the stated RRP.

Finally the obligatory calendar card. It boasts a leafy design in keeping with the overall theme of ‘dark botany’.

June subscription box summarised

All-in-all, I’m really happy with this box. It feels super high-end, so hopefully everything I write and rule with its contents will be of similar quality. Fingers crossed.

My next Papergang box is due at the end of July. And you can read my review of Box No.15 here.

In the meantime, I’m off to party like a Papergangster.