Which Notebooks I’m Currently Using

I love reading about how other people use their notebooks and pens/pencils, so I decided to take the time to list what I’m currently using and how:

  • Field Notes Front Page – used in landscape mode with a Blackwing 16.2 to take notes while I work through the third draft of my novel. Something about the format of this notebook appeals to me, especially in landscape mode. I ignore the lines completely (easy to do, since they’re so faint). Also works well while I’m typing, since it’s thin enough not to get in the way. I just put it below my keyboard, a pause to jot a quick note when I need to.
  • Field Notes Dime Novel – I use this as a catch-all and home to do list notebook, using whichever fountain pen I have inked at the moment.
  • Moleskine Star Wars Lightsaber Duel – used as my daily journal, coupled with a Ti Arto with a uni-ball Signo 0.5 gel refill (UMR-85) and a Scotch glue stick to paste bits and bobs in. I’ve been using this combo for about two years now (with different Moleskine lined notebooks), and I couldn’t be happier with it.
  • Moleskine Large Squared  – used as my “bullet journal” at work. I’ve simplified the bullet journal system (removed the calendars entirely) and it’s now a daily checklist + work journal that serves to answer two questions: what am I going to do today, and what have I actually done. Keeps me sane and happy, especially when outages derail my day. I use a Zebra G-301 pen with this that I bought in Atlanta in 2012, and it is still going strong. I go through about a refill every two months, so this isn’t the most economical of systems…
  • Moleskine pocket square reporter – a new one for me. I’m using it to keep a running food journal, using a Retro 51 tornado slim graphite filled with a parker gel refill.
  • Paper for Fountain Pens notebook – together with sheafs of Tomoe River paper, this is what I use for my writing notes, quick drafts, and when I’m working through plot holes. I use whatever fountain pen I have going at the time, usually two pens with two different inks, Neil Gaiman style.
  • Moleskine two-go – I’m using this as my reading journal. I log all the books I read here. Previously I used two Field Notes Arts notebooks, but I ran out of them, so I moved to this. Using a Karas Kustoms grey RenderK in this, coupled with a Caran d’Ache Bicolor pencil to highlight things, and whatever other pencil I have laying around, for extra notes.
  • Baron Fig Three Legged Jester Confidant – using this to track my resolutions for several years now. Used to be my daily journal.
  • Moleskine softcover squared pocket reporter – using this to keep track of story ideas. I write in it with whatever is on hand.

A large pile of notebooks

Advertisements
Which Notebooks I’m Currently Using

Moleskine Star Wars Lightsaber Duel Review and My Journaling Habit

Yesterday I finished a Moleskine Limited Edition “This is London” notebook. It took me a little less than 2 months to fill its 240 pages.

img_1831.jpg

My journal is a personal, private thing that I create for myself, both to log each an every day and to process things — from various frustrations to purchasing decisions. It’s a brain outside my brain and it can take a lot more than my brain can oftentimes handle.

This is my second journaling notebook filled for 2018. My first was a Moleskine Limited Edition Denim “Hand Wash Only”. It took me a little over two months to fill (I started in the end of 2017). The Denim Moleskines are probably my favourites ever, which is why I have four more lined up on my shelves. The texture of the cover and the design is just stunning.

And here they are stacked:

I wasn’t sure which Moleskine to use next, so I listed them all and just rolled a dice to see.  The Star Wars “Lightsaber Duel” came up, and it’s a lovely edition as well. Here they are old and new:

I love Moleskine’s new use of the flip side of their wrapping bands. The “This is London” band had lovely illustrations and instructions on how to make tea (this was an exclusive edition for Moleskine London stores).  The Star Wars Lightsaber Duel has illustrations and the Pantone colours of the various lightsabers used in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Look at those endpapers!

And of course Star Wars stickers. One can never have too many Star Wars stickers.

I use a Ti Arto pen with a Uni-ball Signo UMR-85 gel refill, and I fill four pages a day every day. When I started out I filled a half-page, page a day and gradually worked up as I started to get more out of the journaling experience. I write for myself only, I glue various bits and pieces inside my journal (business cards, cool wrappers or fliers, stickers), and sketch in it sometimes, even though it’s lined and not my main sketchbook by far. I use it to plan things, from my running goals to my writing goals, but I don’t try to make it bullet journal/Instagram pretty. It’s a working journal, and it’s first and foremost meant to be a tool, not a museum piece.

I use Moleskines because I enjoy using them and because for some reason beyond me these are the only notebooks that I’ve managed to consistently journal in. I tried Baron Fig, Rhodia Webnotebooks, Leuchtturm, Exacompta, Field Notes, and others and I haven’t been able to stick with them, even though some of them allow me to use my beloved fountain pens. There is just something about these notebooks that makes it a joy for me to use them (and at least when it comes to the LE lined versions, Moleskine has improved its paper stock). I pick up the regular black notebooks for work, but I love a lot of their stunning LE designs, so I splurge on those for my journaling needs.

Which brings me to the bottom line:

Use the notebook that you enjoy using, without giving a damn what other people say, so that you can journal for yourself.

That’s really all there is to it.

Moleskine Star Wars Lightsaber Duel Review and My Journaling Habit

Back to writing, training and running

After two weeks of not writing and three weeks of not training or running (due to illness), it is hard to get back in the saddle. What was once a breeze is now a pain — staring at that blank page or lacing up is now a terrifying ordeal. The easiest thing to do is cut myself some slack and not write, not train, not run… and feel like a failure.

So I put a timer on for my writing, and forced myself to just work on it for 15 minutes. Timers are a godsend for this. They always help me get over the hardest part of writing, which is starting.

As for the training, it helped that Streaks was nagging me about it, but that wouldn’t have been enough of a motivator at this point, since it was so long since I’d trained and I was still not 100% well. So I selected a beginner’s workout in NTC, and told myself that I could take as many breaks as I needed, skip a few of the exercises, and stop if it was too physically punishing. It took a lot of the pressure and guilt off, and I ended up surprising myself by completing almost all of the workout (NTC’s 46min Start Training, I did everything but the burpees, for those interested). It felt great, and gave me the confidence to go out for a 20 minute run today.

Was it my best run? Far from it. It was slow and hard and I had to stop and catch my breath halfway through. But I finished it, and I now know where my new baseline is. There’s only room for improvement from here.

Back to writing, training and running

Second draft

I just finished my second draft of my novel today. Yay!

It took me a lot longer than I thought to edit the middle chapters, mostly because there was a lot of rewriting to do there, and I let that discourage me. I froze. I procrastinated. I did everything but push through.

In the end the solution was pretty simple:

I made a plan and set a goal to finish the edit (about 75,000 words to go through) by the end of February. Instead of having a word count for how much I wrote, I had a word count for how much I edited. Instead of counting up (how many words left to write), I counted down (how many words left to edit).

I cut the larger goal to a word count goal for each day, and almost every day I managed to surpass my 1,200 “words edited” goal. I only missed two days for personal reasons, and I missed my daily goal only four times, on exceptionally busy days.

I tracked my progress in a Google sheet, with the following graph illustrating my progress:

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 20.06.38

I also managed to cut down my manuscript by 10%, which was another goal for my second draft, and a much more challenging one that I originally thought. It was worth doing, though, as the resulting narrative is better, tighter, and easier to read.

For my next draft I’m going to create a plan from the start, so that hopefully I won’t get bogged down again by my inner demons.

Second draft

Three Good Things

After reading the great “How to Be Miserable” I decided to start keeping a “three good things” journal at my bedside and write in it every night, right before I go to bed.

The idea is to write three good things that happened to you today, and if possible attribute them. It breaks off the habit of always remembering the bad, upsetting or embarrassing parts of your day, and I also found that it helps me (together with regular journaling) clear my mind and fall asleep sooner.

The good things don’t have to be large, sometimes they’re just a nice meal that I shared with someone, or something good that I read or watched, or just a friendly exchange with a friend or someone at work. The thing is, once you start doing it you:

  1. Realize that even in the shittiest of days there is something good to remember.
  2. Train your brain to look for those things throughout the day, so that you can have something to write down at night.

I’ve been using the Field Notes Resolution weekly planner for that, but you might want to use something larger. I just chose the Resolution because it gave me a reason to use the notebook, and it’s small enough that I’m sure that I will have something to write in it every day.

Three Good Things

Chapter 7

Finished rewriting chapter 7. I rewrote it almost entirely, and I had to go back to chapter 2 first to fix a significant portion of that yet again, but the end result is much better I think, so I’m pretty pleased.

The main thing I learned from this is not to be afraid to go back and rewrite from scratch earlier chapters and scenes that I have already reviewed, if the resulting narrative is tighter and more coherent in the end.

So far I’ve managed to cut almost 9,000 words out, which is good progress, but the longest chapter (chapter 8, at a whopping 12,339 words) is still ahead of me, so I need to hunker down.

Chapter 7