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11 October 2016

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.
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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?
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. 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.

Notebooks I've used.

  1. 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. I ordered this off Amazon to draw in (and then found it too big) so I'll be looking into what they have at Wal-mart and Michael's and how the price compares, for the future.
  2. 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."
  3. I have the Evernote Moleskine (pictured above is the Evernote business notebook) but any Moleskine will be similar quality. I love the study cover 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.
  4. 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). For a different size option, you can check out the Moleskine "Cahier" shown in the next section.
  5. A "hard-cover," "wire-bound" notebook may or may not be cheaper than an artists 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. (click the image below to be taken to that notebook and then you can browse from its category).
  6. 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. These 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

(a)   (b)   (c)
All of these are A5-size (for the prices I list) which is approximately half-letter-size. The brands all have multiple options as far as size, ruling (lined, blank, grid, dot), color, and who knows what else.
(a)Leuchtturm1917, around $25   (b)Moleskine "Cahier" (soft cover), around $10 for a 3-pack   (c)Rhodia Webnotebook, around $17
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.

Notebook Accessories

Here are some of the accessories I've checked out for a planner, bullet journal, or just a notebook. I own all the pens except the Triplus markers. The multi-pen is also available as individual pens (or less than five colors) and is awesome if you need something very fine.



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