Starting 2023 by talking about some changes to my ever morphing Wall of Notebooks (TM) and Palace of Paper (TM)
I loved reading this and knowing that I'm not the only geek around! I'm working out the best combination of paper notebooks and a digital 'second brain' - which I have on Obsidian and I love it.
I also started a trial with Day One for noting multi-media day summaries. The older I get, the more I feel like I'm just losing chunks of days - the expression 'where did all that time go?'. Well, it went somewhere, and it would be good to remember key events and be able to look back on them with visuals and so on. I tried scrapbooking, but I just don't have the discipline - there's too much friction with getting things printed etc.
I still keep a paper notebook for journalling - morning pages, and on those moments that I just want to kill everyone and perhaps it's best to write down my feelings and figure out the root of my peri-homicidal tantrums. (I'm not a psycho, just dramatic.)
Inspired by Jillian Hess's post on Diaries, I'm going to try a Morning Pages style diary using simple steno notebooks. They're inexpensive at the Dollar Stores (that are popping up everywhere here in the US) and will fill up quickly, I imagine. The size should be adequate for a first-thing-in-the-morning brain dump.
I'm going to check out the Master Life Index notebook; I like the idea of an index to organize the contents and have never used this type. I tend to scribble in notebooks, without really organizing what's in them, so here's another project for 2023...(sigh)...if only I could put sugar in my tea...
"2000 consecutive daily journal entries"!!!!!! What's your secret?
I love hearing about all your specific notebooks, and I was thinking my notebook keeping was more chaotic than that, but I do have lots of specific notebooks, they are generally less about organizing than yours are. I am in awe of your organizing and tracking.
I also like hearing about things like Zettelkasten, not because I'm going to to go all in with it, but to consider if there are aspects I can use. Ultimately the system that works best for me is a mash up of the tidbits of various systems that align with my particular brain.
One of your best posts, Mark - very apposite.
I've started to change from 'To Do' lists (stressful, hate them, never worked) to 'To Achieve' and 'Achievements' lists.
I might do a post about it later on this month - thanks for the idea! :)
"I feel seen," as the saying goes. I'm looking at three notebooks right now. One, I've got open to a page I brainstormed my own Stack on, and its goals. One, I have just random notes I make at desk- story ideas, as I'm a practicing journalist. A third I have for volunteer efforts. I keep another notebook near my laptop, and one in bedroom for the all too occasional journaling.
I’ve been consistently journaling (daily morning pages) ever since I quit my career to take care of my mom 8 years ago. I’m partial to soft-cover Moleskines with dotted pages and different colored ink each day. There’s something liberating about dots, I guess?
This year I’m also keeping a recipe journal (ordered and en route) for cookery field notes and favorites to accompany my new foodletter, Cook & Tell.
I like the thought of your Index journal and Jillian’s latest post about various journal/diary methods has me ready to try out some new techniques as well!
We’re all a bunch a dorks 😂. I use those black-n-white composition notebooks; I have stacks and stacks of them going from 2006 to the present. Wow there’s some anarchy in there. But some literary gold, too, I’m sure. One day I’ll read through them all in one fell swoop. Until that day comes: Write on. ✍️✍️✍️✍️🔥🔥🔥
‘Sincere American Writing’
I keep a journal (which I wrote about in December: https://balampman.substack.com/p/no-58-the-journal-project), always a different kind of notebook that I usually adorn in some way. I also start a new notebook each year—you could definitely call it a commonplace book—that I make sections in to jot down ideas and intentions for my newsletter, my website, and anything else I may have on the go (last year it was a big grant application). I always adorn the front of that too. Last but not least is the quarterly planner I use, designed and produced by my good friend Jill at The Creative Goods: https://thecreativegoods.substack.com/. It's specifically designed to organize you and aid you in your creative practice.
Leuchturmm1917 bullet journal for The Bus - a page per entry containing any jottings or things to remember. But only about that particular issue. When it’s published, that page gets updated with whatever I chose as the Detour, Recommendation and Thought - Playlist contents go on a dedicated few pages towards the back, as does a hand-drawn chart of issue topics and components that will take me to the 100th issue in April. I have a digital spreadsheet with all this, too - but I like the way I can slip the book into my briefcase and work on it whenever I wish. This one is highly organised. I also have another one which collects ideas for future issues - no rhyme or reason to it, just a book to catch thoughts, get doodled in, etc.
I am now inspired to write about my own journaling practice. I really love the older posts you linked here, I think one of them (The Curious Notebook Expo) is what made me sign up to your newsletter! While I loooove notebooks, I know that I can't handle more than one at any one time.
So for the past 15 years (if not longer) - I really have to label my journals like you do - I have used one notebook for everything. Literally everything - scribblings, morning pages, journaling, brainstorming, to do lists, shopping lists, wish lists, etc. (although I am more into e-lists for the past several years). But always just one notebook that usually goes around with me. I go on until I complete it and then I start another one. I sometimes change them although I have a favorite, a Moleskine lookalike from my local store.
Re Zettleksatens, while the idea of a manual Zettelkasten is really attractive (although, yes, I am pretty sure it is a fad for most of us) I know that (for me) it is not sustainable in the long run. But Obsidian, without any bells and whistles (plugins) and without any folder type structure, with minimal tags and only linking to other notes has done wonders for my thinking. I have created links I didn't know existed. I don't have any numbering or other structure to notes, I just write them down whichever way I like and link them to other notes i an think of at the time (by searching). I try to title them as something clear and searchable so they pop up with related phrases, etc.... But It has brought me so much joy and it is a lot of fun!
Gosh, Mark, what a great update to your notebooking life - I really enjoyed reading it!
I'd feel under such pressure to have so many notebooks on the go! I'm really happy with my A5 bullet journal, where I've got recorded info - and I record everything - at my fingertips thanks to its index. I've got notes, quotes, to-do lists, wish lists, medical test results, reminders, schedules and all sorts in there, all mixed up but very, very easily navigable. I also use a passport-sized travellers' notebook which lives in my pocket so I can scribble down notes and thoughts when I'm out and about to later use in my writing. Most of my drafts for my Substack posts start in that one.
I do/did have a third notebook - an A4+ one - for my writing projects, but despite loving the process of drafting by hand I'm using a keyboard more and more for the initial stages, so I only use this occasionally now. It's funny: as I've grown in confidence with my writing I'm happier to head straight for the computer!
Wow to all those days of journalling - that's a great achievement, Mark!
I’ve been thinking I will start a commonplace book, if only as a reference for scraps of information that I am always looking for later :) maybe I’ll try the B5 size.
Sadly my Field Notes gift subscription was not renewed this Xmas but I think I will continue to get one myself, which means I’ll be pretty set for small notebooks I can use to track individual projects. I already am, really.
Ironically for someone who thinks of himself as a designer and artist I don’t use a paper sketchbook all that much - I use the “stacks” function in Procreate to collect loose files related to a given project as well as a general stack for sketching anything.
I use a Dingbats* Earth notebook for work, but really don't take advantage of the index feature. It's probably too late with this notebook, but maybe with the next one.
I journal daily(ish - exceptions made for transitory moments). I used to keep several journals, but now I stick with three. One is for nearly everything - habits, thoughts, venting, creating drafts or brainstorming lists, poems, rough drawing bits, notes, quotes and other things I want to capture. The second is for my ongoing reading log - although I like the idea of keeping a media list (hmm). The third is my small journal for traveling incognito when I want to have it with me, but I don't want to have it out (this happens at particular family events).
This is a new word for me! "cathect. transitive verb. ca·thect kə-ˈthekt, ka- : to invest with mental or emotional energy." I love seeing how other people use their notebooks. My system is always changing, too. Right now I have: sketchbook, healing journal, bullet journal, life shit notebook, and my various project notebooks for each project.