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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
You’re a stationery addict, so when it comes to gift giving you want to share your passion for paper. The trouble is that not everyone gets why a notebook is such an amazing gift. Even when it’s a super special one.
‘Just a notebook’
I had a very disheartening experience recently when announcing my plans to gift a set of Field Notes to a friend. I explained a little about the brand and its history. About the importance of pocket notebooks and why everyone needs an everyday carry. All about the back page with suggested usages and how much fun it is to read through. But my audience, non-stationery addicts admittedly, were underwhelmed. Their response: ‘That’s all well and good, but isn’t it just a notebook?’
Three ways to gift notebooks
Of course, we stationery addicts know that there’s no such thing as ‘just a notebook’. So I’ve thought of some ways to elevate what others might feel is a humble gift. Let me know if it helps. Or if you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments.
1. Pimp the outside cover
I enjoy a spot of Saturday afternoon notebook pimping. And it’s the perfect way to elevate a notebook gift – especially if you’ve bought something plain like a Moleskine. Or you made your choice based on the inside pages and, like me, you’re convinced that the way to convert non-stationery addicts is with dot grid.
The quickest and easiest way to pimp a notebook is with stickers. And it’s a perfect way to personalise based on the interests and personality of your lucky recipient.
Are they a child of the 80 or 90s? You could dig out the remnants of an old Panini sticker collection. Or if they’re a fan of all things sparkly, glittery initials, numbers or washi tape could work. In fact, the possibilities with washi tape are endless. And while strictly speaking washi is not a sticker, it is sticky, so it still counts!
If your penmanship is on point, you can use lettering to spruce up the front cover. Calligraphers can pen a fancy title on a plain background or artists can ink some cute illustrations. Just don’t forget to add a protective layer of sticky-back plastic over the top if it’s a notebook that’s likely to be taken out and about.
2. Design some inside spreads
Last week I gifted a bullet journal and decided to dress it up a little by designing some starter spreads. I drew up a future log as well as a monthly log complete with flower doodles. A daily log with space for tasks and wins, plus trackers for steps, sleep and water came next. Finally, I marked out space for a quote or word to sum up the day. Of course, this was particularly apt because it was a bullet journal, but there are other ways you might want to jazz up some pages.
You could create a contents page for example. Or maybe some page headings. Small sketches or illustrations also work well. Or if it’s a diary, you could scribble in some dates that you know will resonate.
3. Suggest ways in which they might use them
We stationery addicts can think of many, many ways to use a notebook. But this might not be the case for the non-stationery addict that you are gifting to. A gift tag or heart shaped post it with some suggestions could help. Something list based usually works well and again, you can tailor to their interests – TBR lists for a book lover or bucket lists for adventurers.
Of course, you could take it up a level and make a notebook from scratch. But really that’s a post for another day. Or alternatively you could buy a notebook so fabulous that you wouldn’t need to be a notebook addict to appreciate it – something with a fun quote usually works in this case. Happy notebook gifting!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Received the November Box? Let me know what you thought in the comments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.