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Best writing or journaling supplies for on-the-go

I have a confession. I'm always touting the advantages of digital organization (for genealogy or everyday), but I love paper.

I don't love organizing with paper. I hate it, hence my promotion of digital methods. It's the actual paper I love. I also love fountain pens. I love the way they write. I like the "scratch, scratch" of metal on (high quality) paper. So, I've decided when I write (instead of typing) I want to indulge in metal on paper.

Bullet journal or DIY planner, you need a good notebook if you want to write on the go. Here are my favorites that stand up to fountain pens and markers. | The Occasional Genealogist

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Fountain Pens, Fun but Trouble

Have you tried writing with a fountain pen? If not, it's almost impossible to find paper that can handle it (and I'm cheap so I feel cheated if I can't write on the back of a page, even if I don't actually do it!).

I've posted before about keeping a paper planner and bullet journaling so you know I've tried some "analog" tools. One of my issues is nothing I've tried can sufficiently stand up to a fountain pen. While researching products, I've discovered this is just a "truth" of journals and any similar paper supplies.

Currently, my second favorite writing implement is the Paper-mate Flair pen. Those have similar issues, but it's not quite as severe as fountain pens. But I've found a solution that seems to meet all my needs! That's what I want to share today.

But I've titled this post "best... supplies for on-the-go," what does that have to do with my fountain pen fix?

Journaling, Planning, List Making On-the-Go

I know many of you don't want to deal with fountain pens. However, I know one of the issues of Occasional Genealogists (and moms and other people who are busy "on-the-go") is being able to do something productive when standing or waiting (such as a doctor's office or somewhere you can't have a desk).

For some people, they can do everything on their phone. I can look up anything on my phone but I can't "create" on my phone. That means if I need to record more than the date, time, and title of an appointment, it is more typing than I want to do on a tiny device.

I have some other workarounds but to keep things short, if I want to brainstorm, I need a full-size keyboard (at proper height) or paper. That means paper when I'm "on-the-go."

You need something hard-backed to write on when you don't have a desk or table available. You also need something the right size for YOU. I had no idea this was an issue until I started buying planners and notebooks after I had kids!

You need to be able to take it with you AND it needs to be comfortable to write in. What's comfortable to write on (much like my full-size keyboard), is not always portable.

Here are my top picks for "on-the-go" notebooks. Choose one that fits your specific needs. I've used all of those I've described. You'll see there's a section for the ones I want to try but haven't.

My #1 Favorite Notebook for Anything

This first notebook (mixed media artist pad) is what I'm loving for fountain pens. It is awesome if you want a large on-the-go notebook that can handle any writing implement. The back is super sturdy and the front is even pretty sturdy.

It's meant for an artist on-the-go so it will work for you (note: I like textured paper, if you like perfectly smooth, you might not be comfortable with this choice).

I like spiral bound and the cover folds completely back on this. The other nice thing is artist notebooks come in different sizes and a choice of the spine at the top or side. This particular style has perforated sheets if you want to be able to remove them (I don't find them too easy to remove, though).

If you want something for fountain pens, a "sketch" pad for pencils won't be any better than a nice notebook. Look for artist pads for pen and ink.

The "Frugal" Notebook

I used to always use a standard composition book. A number of years ago I found the covers were much less sturdy so I don't know that I could still comfortably write while standing.

This is a great cheap option. Stock up at back to school and tax time if what you want is "cheap."

This is not a good option for ink, they are designed for pencils but can handle some pens. The cheaper the composition book, the cheaper (flimsier) the cover and thinner the paper.

Popular and Customizable: Traveler's Notebooks

I recently bought a Midori because I heard the paper was the best bet for fountain pens and the size and weight would be better in my purse (I also like being able to mix and match several small notebooks in one cover).

I just don't do well with narrow pages and I really like spiral bound. The paper was what I read, minimal bleed with the fountain pen ("ghosting" instead of full-bleed through). You might love the narrow size and binding style so check them out.

For a different size option, you can check out the Moleskine "Cahier." I have the Evernote Moleskine but any Moleskine will be similar quality.

I love the study cover on my Moleskine but I've decided I prefer spiral bound. The paper is much better than the composition book but not for fountain pens or porous point pens. You can use them but it's not ideal.

Note that an "Evernote" notebook is not essential for digitizing written pages to Evernote. I bought one to see if it made that much of a difference. For me, it didn't (the stickers are awesome but I'm so picky I can't deal with the fact the images don't match what I need to tag. Why don't you have genealogy specific stickers, Moleskine?).

I mention this because there is also a business version of the Evernote notebook which has additional features. I don't need the specific features since I'm a solopreneur but they might be worth it to you so check it out.

Notebooks for Your Slant

A "hard-cover," "wire-bound" notebook may or may not be cheaper than an artist's pad but are usually lined. On Amazon there is a category for "wire bound" and you can make your search term "hard cover" if you want to find something pretty and sturdy.

The Classic Notepad

I've used steno pads for similar reasons (sturdy, spiral bound). You may find the line down the center handy depending on the type of thing you write.

These are designed for you to write in without a desk. They are meant for a stenographer so naturally, they are great when taking notes during an interview with relatives (it's the spiral at the top, makes it more comfortable to hold).

    Notebooks I'd Like to Try



    These are essentially the top recommendations I've seen when I was reading about bullet journals. I won't describe them since I haven't personally used them.

    They each have different advantages and drawbacks. Google whichever you want to learn more about. You'll find blog posts describing what people like and don't like.

    Journaling and Planning Accessories (so much more than pen and paper)

    I don't feel I can recommend notebooks without also telling you about my favorite pens (well, providing links so you see what they are) as well as a few other favorite planner/journal accessories.

    My Favorite Pens:

    Other Supplies:


    That wraps up my recommendations.

    I've really found the multi-media notebook and multi-pen have made such a difference for me. I now have a notebook where I can put anything and everything and I know where it is.

    The multi-pen gives me a variety of ink colors for those times I'm working feverishly but want the results easy to skim later. The notebook never fails as far as being sturdy and it's even gotten dirty in the garden and it's barely made a difference. I don't want my iPad experiencing that!

    For me, having artist's notebooks around and a variety of colorful pens also gives me a bit of relaxation. I can doodle or organize without running around looking for different supplies. A mental break is important so I like the simplicity of using the supplies for everything, business, home, and personal.

    Do you have favorite writing, journaling, or planner supplies? Leave a comment to let others know about more great options.

    Bullet journal or DIY planner, you need a good notebook if you want to write on the go. Here are my favorites that stand up to fountain pens and markers. | The Occasional Genealogist

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