I love the idea of having only one notebook. It would probably be a sophisticated leather-bound affair, with creamy unlined pages. The cover would be soft and worn with use. The notebook itself would have multiple sections - one for journalling, one for miscellaneous notes, one for keeping track of the books I read, and so on. Accompanying the notebook would be a simple pen case, containing perhaps only a couple wooden pencils, a vintage fountain pen, a multi-pen with gel refills, and not much else. I appreciate simplicity and minimalism, so the idea of one notebook is very attractive. However, it is not, so far, a reality for me.
In reality, I have multiple notebooks, multiple pens and pencils, and multiple pen cases, all of them equally stuffed full, and I still find myself acquiring more, although not quite as much these days as I once did. However, I have gradually developed something of a notebook system: a series of notebooks, each with a distinct use. This system, although it does not quite fit my ideal of simplicity embodied in the single notebook, is still an improvement over my previous notebook "system." This earlier "system" was not really a system at all, as it consisted merely of a random collection of notebooks, acquired haphazardly over the years, with many of them overlapping in purpose. I wrote a bit about this "system" in my post wondering how many notebooks were too many.
Now, my current system is far from ideal either. It still includes what I feel is simply too many notebooks, and some of the notebooks still overlap slightly in their uses. However, I hate to retire any notebook until it is entirely filled up, so there are still a number of older notebooks hanging on in the system, even though they are no longer necessary parts of it. As these older notebooks are gradually used up, I will be able to simplify my system further and, hopefully, take more small steps towards my ideal of one notebook (or at least fewer notebooks than I use now).
But enough said about all that. Let's get on to the notebooks that are in my system:
These four notebooks are probably the core of the system. From left to right, they are:
- Draft notebook (Hilroy 1-subject Notebook): As I mentioned in my last post on writing pen reviews, I typically write drafts (of blog posts or other things) out by hand before typing them up. The cheaper the notebook I use for this, the better. That way I have no fears about writing whatever comes to mind, I can cross things out, scribble, doodle in the margins, whatever. And once the blog posts are typed up and published, the old pages are torn out of the notebook.
- Journal (unlined Rhodia Webnotebook)
- Sketchbook (Heinz Jordan Permanent Sketchbook)
- Commonplace book (Paperblanks Journal): This notebook is used to collect quotes, poems, lists, etc. Read more about commonplace books in the terrific article over at D*I*Y Planner.
The following three notebooks are also a part of the system, but are not quite as essential as the previous four. They may also not be permanent parts of the system, and one day they may be combined with some of the previous four notebooks.
- Art journal/gluebook (large notebook beneath the other two): Probably one day this will be combined with my sketchbook to become an art journal/sketchbook that includes drawings, sketches, painting, and collages. It makes less and less sense to have them separate, but it works for now.
- Tarot journal (left; Clairefontaine Minuscule): Used to chronicle my current work with Tarot. Probably not a permanent part of the system.
- Book journal (right; Banditapple Carnet): I'll be writing about this more in a future post, but basically it's a notebook that I use to keep track of the non-fiction books that I read. It's still a bit experimental, and I'm not yet sure if it's going to work out or remain in the system.
Finally, the next five notebooks are those "hangers on" that I mentioned earlier. They're still in use, but they're not really part of the system anymore:
From left to right, they are:
- Poetry book (blue floral notebook): This is a notebook that I use to collect poems that I like. Essentially, it is just another commonplace book and when it is filled up, it will be replaced with my regular commonplace book that I discussed above.
- Field notebook (Rite in the Rain Journal): I used this notebook when I was in university for field trips (which were frequently wet, rainy, muddy, and/or dirty), but I don't really have a use for it anymore. I'm not sure what I'll do with it now.
- Poetry journal (green notebook): This is where I write my poetry, but the small size makes me feel too constrained to really let loose. Some journal entries have crept into it as well, so I may combine it with my journal, or perhaps find a larger notebook to use.
- Notebook for miscellaneous notes (Quo Vadis Habana): I like the idea of having a notebook for miscellaneous thoughts and notes that don't fit into any of the other notebooks, but in practice I don't really seem to have any miscellaneous thoughts. Or they just end up in my journal. So I'm not really sure what's going to happen with this notebook either.
- Quote notebook (black notebook with stickers): Similar to the poetry notebook, this notebook is used to collect short quotes, and will also likely be replaced by my commonplace book.
So there you have it! That is my notebook system! As you can see, it is constantly evolving and is still very much a work in progress. As old notebooks are used up, I am continually simplifying and condensing multiple notebooks into one. I've listed twelve notebooks here; in time, these could probably be condensed down to six, or maybe even five. That's still more than one, but I'm getting there.
What about you? Do you use one notebook, or many notebooks? Do you have a notebook system? If so, how has your notebook system evolved over time? Does anyone else get as obsessive as me about how they use their notebooks?