A link to an older post at Brainpickings showing some artists’ notebooks. I love the sense of seeing inside the mental-workings of artists and writers. Here’s another link to some samples inside of notebooks. And here’s a post highlighting the oft-anthologized Joan Didion essay about keeping a notebook.
One of the links above mentions Moleskine notebooks, but for quality and price, I prefer keeping my journals in Clairefontaine (wonderfully heavy and smooth ruled paper, well-bound) notebooks, Miquelrius notebooks, Strathmore hard-bound and spiral-bound sketchbooks, or other sketchbooks (as pictured above). (By the way, I have no financial interest in any of these companies; I’m recommending names here to give specific information that took me a while to find, and because it’s fun to talk about my journal-writing tools). Years ago, I wrote on mass-market notebook paper, but it tends to bleed through (with the pens I prefer, the easy-gliding Pilot Precise V7 pens) and the thinner paper just doesn’t feel as good to the touch. I remember reading someplace that a writer should have tools that feel good, and so I do.
I write 3 or more pages of journals every morning, by hand, and this has been the basis of my creative process. Writing by hand actually makes the writing faster (which is good when I’m trying to transcribe the word-stream coming from my inner-mental-voice) than typing; my handwriting is not easy to read, but I can discern my intent through bad handwriting better than I can when I make typing mistakes. By hand, I may misspell a word or make a letter that looks a little off, but when I type, I sometimes press keys that don’t have any relation to sense.
I sometimes add stickers (as shown above) to my journals to amuse myself, and more rarely, I sketch something — the unruled paper of the sketchbooks makes drawing seem tempting at times.
Also, the photo at top of this post I took when I photographed all the pages of that journal for the purpose of making a digital backup. I don’t have the time or interest to type up all the handwriting, and I don’t have a scanner that works fast enough, so I get a music stand and a light source and I photograph the completed journal. I’m paranoid enough about natural disasters that I don’t want to lose my words, even if I lost my notebooks.