Tidying Up my notebooks

My notebook stash is out of control. It fills two trunks, a cupboard, half a bookshelf and that’s just the ones I haven’t written in.

So far so stationery addict. I wasn’t concerned. And then I got hooked on Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show . It was time to think about tidying up my notebooks.

Regular readers will know I have hoarding tendencies so I’ve steered clear of the Konmari method until now. Truth be told I wasn’t willing to pull on that thread. But then Tidying Up was so good. And after they’d tidied the people were so happy.

I’m not there yet in terms of decluttering my whole flat. That will take at least two more series of Tidying Up if I’m honest. But what better way to put a toe in the tidying waters than by giving my notebook collection the Marie Kondo treatment.

Here’s how I got on…

These two silver trunks are where the majority of my notebooks live. Who knows what’s in there to be honest. I’d always been glad just to be able to close them but seeing Tidying Up brought it home to me that I didn’t know what exactly what notebooks I had and that meant I couldn’t make the most of them. And also that I was buying lots of the same type.

My first step was to put all the notebooks in a pile. This is the scary bit and I admit, it wasn’t pretty. Around about this time I was really wishing that I’d never even heard of Marie Kondo.

But I learnt a lot about my notebook collection, and how my tastes have changed in the last few years.

Full disclaimer

I chickened out of the next step. This was the getting rid of notebooks bit. The idea was to hold each notebook in my hand and see if it sparked joy. The ones that did I would put in my ‘to keep’ pile. The ones that didn’t, I would thank and prepare to redistribute. But I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a loophole that would allow me to keep my notebook collection intact.

This is the storing upright thing. In Tidying Up Marie Kondo is very specific about this and it’s the thing that I’ve taken most to heart. Tidy, huh? Only takes up one trunk. And most importantly, I can see exactly what I have.

I’m sure there are quite a few notebook collections that could do with some pruning. Anyone else tried the Konmari method or have an alternative, other than just, you know, not buying too many and throwing them away when they’re full up?

Next time, what I’ve learned about my notebook collection and what it is about a notebook that makes it spark joy.

Notes on overcoming writers block

I’ve been working on my novel on and off for a few years now. I write long hand for the most part so I’ve filled many a notebook. Every few months I reconnect with my work in progress, make some tweaks, write a couple of thousand words. And then I get stuck. So I put it down for a while.  Fast forward 12 weeks and the whole cycle starts again.

Determined to break my bad habits, I signed up for Penguin’s Overcoming Writers Block Webinar with best-selling author Guy Manikowski. I took seven pages of notes in all and came away feeling enthused and inspired.

A week on, I distilled my learnings like one of those fancy studies accounts on Insta. And I’ve even started to put them into practice. Here are five of my highlights for all you writers out there. And yes – a fair few of them involve notebooks!

1.  Make a robust plan

I know that writers tend to fall into two camps. Nanowrimo calls them planners and pantsers. Most of us are somewhere between the two I think. My usual method is to write until I run out of steam and need to take a step back and understand plot and characters but at some point, all writers needs to work out where the novel is going so why not start they way you mean to go on.

2. Keep a dream journal

I often dream of novel ideas and for the ten seconds after I wake up they feel crystal clear and Booker worthy. But then they fade away. Try keeping a notebook by your bed and writing down what you dreamed of as soon as you wake up. It’s a little like morning pages I suppose.

3. Organise your writing space

I tend to write anywhere and everywhere. I carry my notebook on the off-chance that the perfect scene will come to me. It never does by the way. I thought this was part of me making writing part of my life, but actually it highlights that I have no dedicated writing time. Discipline will help after the first burst of enthusiasm has worn off so for the next few weeks I’m going to write everyday at the same time in the same place. Even if it’s just for half an hour.

4. Avoid distractions

I’m easily distracted when it comes to my writing. And so I try to create the optimum moment. This is a list of some of the things I think I need to do before I can tackle my next scene.

– make/eat dinner

– write my next blog post

– tidy my craft room

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the webinar. And think I understand the issue.  I still see writing as an indulgence rather than a priority. I’m also guilty of thinking that the optimum time will lead to inspiration. Similar to the point on discipline above I suppose. If it’s important, it needs scheduling.

5. Keep the end in sight

I love the idea of visualising a final outcome to help keep up momentum. Mine is walking into Waterstones and finding a table dedicated to my book and the novels that have influenced it. Keep your writing dream front of mind. Or better yet, write it down. It makes it feel much more attainable I think.

Rollo London Notebook Review


There are far too many articles that celebrate cat-themed stationery for my liking. Yes, if you didn’t know already I’m a dog person. So of course I was excited to review a notebook from new brand on the block, Rollo London, which uses a greyhound for its logo.

The basics

The notebook is pocket-sized, covered in French navy faux-scotch grain leather, which gives it a wonderfully textured finished. It has a matching navy band to keep it neat and tidy and a charming gold-coloured dog charm, yes, Rollo himself, more on which later.

Inside, the lined pages are 70gsm, which makes for a smoother writing experience and minimises show-through. There are 92 pages in all so it’ll last a decent length of time, although that depends on how you choose to use it. You can keep your place with the matching page marker. And there is a pocket on the inside back cover for storing the odd receipt or photo.

Usage

Size-wise, the Rollo London notebook is perfectly suited to an everyday carry, but its luxe appearance elevates it from being the sort of notebook that you might scribble a random phone number in or a shopping list. For this reason, I’ve been using mine as a gratitude diary. Of course, there are heaps of ways you might choose to use a notebook. But it’s the ideal way to make the most of how special it feels while maximising the practical benefits of its shape and size. Its appearance also means it would be a great gift if you can bear to part with it.

The ooh factor

In my opinion, the thing that makes the Rollo London notebook exclamation-worthy stationery is the 3D dog charm that features on the front cover. The tactile charm gives the notebook its stand out and is typical of its subtle understated charm, building on the luxe materials that it is made from. On the inside front cover there is a gold disc that covers the back of the dog charm. It’s this attention to detail that makes all the difference.

The Rollo London notebook is stocked in flagship Paperchase stores in Glasgow, Manchester and on London’s Tottenham Court Road. Or you can purchase online from RolloLondon.com.

For now, I’m off to find more dog-themed stationery, and to take my tiny terrier Posy for walkies.

Stationery addict problems

I’ve been a stationery addict for as long as I can remember, but it’s not always easy.  There are lows and lowers to even this most harmless of addictions. Like…

…When you fall in love with a notebook cover only to find the paper inside is lined. Why are the prettiest covers always paired with lined paper. Seriously, I need to know.

When you sharpen your pencil and the lead breaks as soon as you touch it to the paper. Infuriating.

When a notebook is perfect in every way, but the paper has the worst show through. This one is a particular bug bear for us stationery addicts that use fountain pens. 

When someone asks to borrow your fountain pen. And then looks affronted when you refuse on the basis that it will ruin the nib. Honestly, it’s a real thing, isn’t it? 

Let the stationery-related ranting continue

Yes, I’m on a roll now, so what about…

…When you sharpen your pencil slowly, deliberately, with infinite care and patience and the shaving splits in half at the crucial moment. Haven’t managed a perfect curl yet.

When you buy a lined notebook in a rush and then realise it’s narrow-ruled. Stationers, please spare a thought for those of us with big bubbly handwriting.

When you spend £££ on stationery every month, own numerous pencil cases and inexplicably find yourself needing to borrow a pen from a stranger. This happens to me more or less on a daily basis.

When you go to purchase a fountain pen and they only have the narrow nib in stock. I cannot be alone in wanting to write a 0.6+ line.

When someone rips a page from your notebook along the spine when the pages are perforated for this exact reason.  It’s bad as people who squeeze the toothpaste from the middle of the tube, amirite?

When you feel the need to have a dedicated notebook for every new idea, fill one or two pages and then realise it’s rubbish and have to abandon it. This has been the ruin of so many beautiful notebooks for me. 

When you spend ages deciding which colour notebook cover suits your mood only to find that the matching pen loop is out of stock. Yes of course you can mix and match but I’m a fan of matchy match stuff. 

When you struggle to commit to one journal and need to fill in six different ones each week. Regular readers will know I have a particular penchant for list journals but I also keep a track of my habits, goals, dreams  – anything they make a journal for essentially.

Time to take a breath

Stationery addict problems are obviously a cause close to my heart. I could go on, and on and on. Instead, I will take a deep breath, tamp down the rage, fill in a page of my mindfulness journal and focus on the highs of being a stationery addict.

Look out for my next post on the best things about being a stationery addict. And if you have any stationery addict problems you’d like to share, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

Notebook holiday

Choosing which notebooks to take away with you on holiday is almost as much fun as deciding on the destination. But all stationery addicts know how easy it is to get carried away. It’s the same as with shoes – you try to plan for all eventualities and end up needing to change roughly every hour in order to make use of them all. 

Notebooks at Gladstones

Take my current trip to Gladstone’s Library for example where I managed to squeeze in nine notebooks altogether. And I was only away for three days! Inspired by the good folks at Nero’s Notes, this is the method behind the madness of how I chose which types of notebooks to take with me. 

Staple

Staple notebooks

These are my go-to notebooks that I use everyday. Where I go, they go. This includes my bullet journal and usually my latest EDC.

Shiny

Shiny, new notebooks

As in shiny and new. I disappeared down the rabbit hole of notebook buying long ago so I always pick up something new before I go on hols – that’s partly why I think of it as a notebook holiday. 

For this particular trip I bought the William Morris exercise book and the Rifle pocket notepad. I didn’t realise at the time but the Rifle contains tear out sheets, as well as an inside flap. If there’s any notes I need to keep I can save them there. 

My choices were guided by my destination of course. Gladstone being a key statesmen of the Victorian period, I wanted something suitably nineteenth century. The exercise book, adapted from Morris’s Strawberry Thief furnishing fabric of 1883 ticked all the boxes. And I knew the Birch Floral notepad would fit in with the rural surroundings of Hawarden village where the library is based. 

Subject-specific

Subject-specific notebooks

This being a study trip rather than out and out hollibobs the majority of the notebooks I took with me were of a more functional nature.

I used the Pukka Pad to make notes on academic essays, the A5 hardbacks from Foyles contain feedback on my work-in-progress, which I like to refer back to when editing. The Field Notes is where I keep notes related to my dissertation.

And yes, I also brought coloured cue cards!

Notebooks holiday

In all honesty, nine notebooks, is probably far too many. But I did use them all whilst I was away. If you have a good system  for choosing which notebooks to take on holidays with you, please share.

 

World Stationery Day – Nat Stat Week Day 3

My favourite day of Nat Stat Week – World Stationery Day. To celebrate, a post on how stationery helps us to connect and makes this great wide world of ours feel that little bit cosier.

Hashtags

Stationery addict, stationery geek, stationery love. There are multiple stationery-related hashtags are used all over the world to connect those of us who love notebooks, pens and pencils. And paper clips and sticky notes and erasers and rulers and…you get the picture! Its these hashtags I turn to when I’m having the sort of day that only seeing fabulous stationery can salvage.

#natstatweek

Pen pals

Letter writing is something that I love so I’ve written about pen pals in previous posts. It’s the perfect way to bring people together. When my blog turned one recently, I listed finding a pen pal as one of my bloggerversary resolutions. Have you got a pen pal? I’d love to hear more about what makes a great pen pal so please get in touch if you’ve got any advice for me.

Wax sealed letter

Indies and stationery start ups

Independent retailers led by genuine stationery aficionados curate the best stationery from around the world. Spotlight Stationery have been known to theme their stationery subscription boxes by country from time to time and Nero’s Notes have brands from Hungary, Germany – the whole world over.

For bricks and mortar, Papersmiths is another favourite. They have a great selection of European brands in particular – lots of Leuchtturm, as well as Nukkias and Papier Tigre. I’ve been a regular visitor since their London store opened in Shoreditch.

Inside Papersmiths at Box Park in Shoreditch

Planner groups

International communities have built up around the use of specific planners. Hobonichi, Mossery, Travellers Notebook. Travellers Notebook Times is a blog that celebrates all things related to Midori’s iconic notebook. Every week they send round a whole heap of links. Perfect for reading with a cup of tea.

Travel journals

One of my favourite types of notebooks. Choose one which has strong enough pages to withstand the pictures, postcards, menus and receipts you’ll paste in to commemorate your trip.

The adventure begins!

Happy World Stationery Day wherever you happen to be celebrating and enjoy the rest of #NatStatWeek

Make a note – Nat Stat Week Day 1

Studying, journalling, minuting a meeting – there’s heaps of scenarios where it pays to have good note taking skills. So to kick start Nat Stat Week, I’m sharing some thoughts on how to make a note.

Every page should have its highlights

If you’ve got a lot of notes to make it’s wise to pick out the key points. This helps when you’re reading back through them. Stabilo’s pastel highlighters are my current favourites.

Pastel highlighter in action

Pick a pocket or three

An Every Day Carry or EDC is indispensable when you need to make a note on the go. And pocket notebooks fulfil this function perfectly. Regular readers will know I have a penchant for a Field Notes Brand three pack, but I’m in the market for a new crush and  Nero’s Notes carry an amazing selection. Right now I’m torn between Nomad Notebooks and Dapper Notes, so maybe I’ll just have to try them both! Nomad notebooks have mixed paper, which is something I’m so here for, while Dapper have some gorgeous covers whether you prefer a pop of colour or something patterned.

One of my favourite Field Notes editions

Bullet points are best

All planner girls and guys know that bullet points are essential if you want to make a note of something. Bullet points encourage brevity, which makes them easy to read and digest. And there’s no need to stick to a plain old dot. Stars, arrows and check boxes all work well. But if you’re bullet journalling all marks mean something so don’t forget to add their significance to your index.

The BuJo Key page gives you space to add your own marks

Stick it to ‘em

Sticky notes are perfect if you want to make a quick note. And they come in all shapes and sizes. These rainbow stickies by Mustard have been brightening up my hotdesk of late. Or you can keep things classic with standard squares of course. Most come in a variety of shades so you can colour code if that’s your thing.

Rainbow sticky notes

Shorthand sweet

You may not know Pitmans or Teeline, but it’s helpful to have your own shorthand system. Finding a way to render words from lines, dashes or symbols will accelerate your note taking. Remember to keep it legible and consistent though, otherwise you’ll have a page of notes that mean nothing to no one. Yes, I am speaking from experience!

Dusting off my Teeline skills

Whats the best way to make a note?

Share your hints and tips in the comments. And check back for more Nat Stat Week Celebrations. I’ve posted on this year’s themes and other days stationery addicts like to celebrate. In the meantime, happy note-taking.

Happy Bloggerversary to me!

Today marks a year since my very first post on Ooh I Love Your Notebook  – I’m calling it my bloggerversary. That’s a thing right? To celebrate, I thought I’d share some resolutions having completely missed the boat on this at New Years.

Bloggerversary resolutions

In the next 12 months I will…

Pick a planner

When January rolled around I just couldn’t resist the shiny green Hobo I found in Foyles. No matter that I was already three months into an academic year diary – my trusty Leutcturrm and had vowed to be more disciplined in maintaining my bullet journal. Between now and January 2019 I will nail my colour to one planner mast and stick with it. It may be Mossery…

Make a modern stationery pilgrimage

One of my earliest posts was on stationery and modern pilgrimage. I’ve not managed one quite yet, but am determined that this will be the year. And of course, I’ll post on what I find.

Complete my Stationery Addict Starter Kit

As things stand, I’m about a quarter of the way through this labour of love. To help keep things fresh, I’ll be  going rogue and choosing letters at random. Next up will be letter L. 

Thanks for reading

I remember reading something that says you’re not a real blogger until you’ve been doing it for two years, so I’m 50% of the way there at least. Thanks to all those who’ve read, commented and shared over the last 12 months. Here’s to the next 12.

Papergang Subscription Box No. 24 Review

It’s been a dull, grey winter so this month’s Papergang subscription box provided a much-needed pop of colour. Plus the utility of its contents ensured it had substance as well as style. As long as bullet journalling remains a thing, stationery addicts will always appreciate items to build their BuJo kit.

Plastic wallet

This handy pouch smells just like water wings. It took me right back to childhood swimming lessons. Inside, three pencils in green, yellow and pink.

I like to carry my BuJo around so this is perfect for keeping all my journal paraphernalia together.

Ruler

This arrived just in time – sadly I’ve lost my beautiful brass one from the Dark Botany box designed by Susan Castillo a few months back.

The ruler is an essential tool for bullet journallers who want to make the most of the dot grid system. Join the dots to box off key information or underline your page headings for some school swot chic.

Sticker pack

Stickers are the perfect way to pull out key dates, highlight what’s gone well and mark special occasions. Even better, they mean you can jazz up your journal – a great alternative if doodling is not your thing.

The two sticker sheets are my favourite thing in this Papergang box. The seasonal labels, candles and be airplanes are best for advance planning – birthdays, holidays, those things you want to look forward to. And for weekly/daily/monthly logs the ticks, crosses and smilies are great.

Greeting card

Little Miss Scatterbrain features on the front of this card. But keeping a bullet journal means no excuses for forgetting stuff anymore. The card is blank inside. It’s ideal to have around for unbirthdays and other times when you want to send a card just because.

Dot grid journal

The exposed and tightly stacked signatures make this notebook a thing of beauty. And handily it fits inside the plastic wallet. I love it when a plan comes together!  The paper is thick enough to take ink and also glue if you want to stick stuff in.

The cardboard cover is begging for a bit of extra personalisation, I think. I might do some doodling on the back or accent the title.

In summary

Overall, another great box from Papergang. And do make sure you check out the accompanying leaflet if you’re new to bullet journalling.

How to live your best letter writing life

Last night I saw Letters Live. For the uninitiated, it’s a much loved letter reading event, which attracts all sorts of A-listers. The letters were by turns moving, poignant, laugh-out-loud funny and gloriously sweary. And best of all Benedict Cumberbatch was among the readers.

The rituals of letter writing

Letters have an enduring charm that email simply cannot match. I think it’s because sending letters contains an element of ritual. First of all assembling the tools, quality paper, envelopes, a fountain pen. The rules of composition, which salutation matches which valediction, dates and left indented addresses. And then there’s going to the post office for a stamp. I used to love the taste of the glue on the back. Yes, yes, I know you’re supposed to use the little sponge things now. But licking stamps remains one of my guilty pleasures- germs schmerms!

Letter love is common among stationery addicts of course. So, inspired by Letters Live I wanted this post to celebrate letters in all their diverse forms and usages. There’s so many ways to keep letters in our lives. Here are a few of my favourites…

Pen pal clubs

Recently, there’s been quite a few pen pal clubs set up. Quill London has a paid option  complete with quarterly socials and Proper Post has a matching service that I’ve been meaning to join for the longest time. It’s called Paper Planes.

Envelope art

Letter writing is often referred to as an art. But nowadays addressing the envelope is, too. It’s the perfect opportunity to get out the quill and ink, but brush pens work too.

There are some beautiful examples on Instagram. And Quill sell envelope guides and things. But there’s nothing to stop you just grabbing some Basildon Bond and giving it a go.

And it’s not just the direction that gives you a chance to express yourself. Sealing wax is a simple but effective way to add a touch of charm. I feel like I’m channelling Tudor insurgents when I use mine. Surely every costume drama ever has a scene where an important document is given an official seal in this way. It also ups the sense of anticipation for the recipient.

Stamps, too, offer a world of potential. Present and Correct have some beautiful ones. And those of you who’ve placed an order with The Stationer may well have received them.

Letters to self

Writing letters to others is all well and good, but what about letters to your future self. A while back I got a gorgeous box of prompts from Kikki K. It’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Epistolary novels

Slightly left-field, but one of the most enjoyable ways to consume letters on a page. My favourites are The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

If you’re a fan of epistolary novels, too, you might enjoy this post I wrote to celebrate Write a Letter Day as part of National Stationery Week 2017.

Something letter-related that I’ve missed? Do let me know in the comments.