It’s a very personal choice
Like the pen or pencil of your choosing, the notebook you settle on is a highly personal choice. There are so many options both online and offline; there are hardcovers and softcovers, large, medium, and pocket sizes.
There are plain, ruled, box grid, and dot grid, and indentation page formats. Who’d have thought there was so much to consider in choosing a notebook?
I’ve used several popular notebooks and I’ll share my experiences with you for each below and maybe it will help you choose what’s best for your first -or next-Zen-Journal.
MOLESKINE notebooks are perhaps the oldest of the notebooks I’ve used. They used to be marketed as ‘The Notebook of Hemingway.’ Initially, that was enough for me to buy one.
I’ve used the Cahier Journal softcover XXL – a full-size soft and flexible notebook that is both thin and comes bundled in threes. I liked the large amount of room on each page and the slim thickness wasn’t especially noticeable when I slipped it into my messenger bag.
It costs approximately $22.95 US.
LEUCHTTURM1917 has a loyal following and for good reason. They are very well made, hold up well to normal use and wear and tear is minimal; they also come with two ribbon bookmarks; I found this last feature very useful. However, I used this medium-sized hardcover for about six months and found it unsatisfactory for my further use.
Personally, I didn’t like the slick nature of the pages, especially when writing with a gel pen. For felt markers and fountain pens, I found that the paper bleeds a bit more than I liked and that meant using a spare piece of paper for a blotter. That was a big disqualifier for me. It was also a tad too thick for my taste, and always felt bulky in my bag.
What I loved about the notebook is the pre-numbered pages and that the built-in index at the front of the notebook.The LEUCHTTURM is my current first choice for a Zen-Journal notebook.
It costs about $20 US.
So far, the folks at Code & Quill get my ‘two thumbs up’ for their work in bringing to creatives the perfect notebook.
In terms of paper, page formatting, and the ability to lay flat every-single-time, they are hard to beat. The photo at the top of the post is the Traveler model and my notebook of choice.
In January of this year, I traveled to England and France and the Code & Quill Traveler notebook was my notebook of choice. I wrote in it on planes and trains, in French cafes, and Oxford pubs. It held up well and my photo of my notebook is featured on the C&Q website.
What I love about this notebook are the following: 1) it opens flat -no matter what page you’re on- via their special binding and spine detail 2) the page formatting has a light dot grid on the left page and a light indentation rule on the right – perfect for designing, writing, journaling, and planning 3) the feel of the paper is superb and doesn’t bleed even with a gel or fountain pen and no blotting was necessary 4) The cover is light, yet very durable and resists wrinkling and creasing.
At only $15 US, it’s a great value.
Your mileage may vary
Everyone is unique and that means your choice of a notebook is unique as well. You may be a fan of the dot grid or the ruled or even the blank page formatting. You might prefer a simple spiral bound $1 notebook found almost everywhere.
And guess what? They all work.
The truly unique nature of Zen-Journal is that you can use any notebook that you have on hand to learn the basics, and then decide what notebook might work the best for you.
I actually recommend going to an office supply store that carries a wide selection of these notebooks (MOLESKINE and LEUCHTTURM are available in brick and mortar stores, but the Code & Quill is available online only) and to get the feel of each. Though you can’t actually write in them at the store…well, you could but that is usually frowned upon by the management… you and evaluate the heft, notebook thickness, and the feel of the paper.
In the next post, I’ll write about the pens I’ve used and how they rank in my personal experience.