This post has been inspired by comments from two lovely friends: Alex W. in the ‘real world’ who mentioned notebook fetishes when she visisted and saw this bureau, and blog-friend ReginaMary who asked in the comments on Friday’s post if I have a separate use for each of my planners and how I keep it all straight in my head. Unfortunately, you are now in for a really long explanation.

Coffee may well be needed to get you through this!

The quick and simple response is, of course, that only a small set of my amassed collections of planners, notebooks and pads is actually used at any one time. For the purposes of this blog post, I’ve collected everything together (there may be some strays that didn’t make it into my photos, but I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible) and I thought I’d take the opportunity to update you on how I’m storing my assortment of paper goodness right now.

I’ve replaced my old desk with a similarly old, adapted bureau which had been part of my bedroom furniture for a long while. I’ve accepted that I do all my writing sitting on the settee and a desk simply doesn’t fit my needs or my desires. If I had a separate room I could set up as an “office” it might be different, but then again it might just be a room I enjoyed setting up then never used. If I do want to sit at a table to work, I can just use the lovely dining table from my grandparents’ house.

As I’m only just in the process of changing the purpose of this little unit, things aren’t set in stone yet and some of it is decidedly scrappy. Over time it should evolve into a slightly more photogenic version, but I’m not averse to photos that show reality; in fact, they can be a refreshing change in our socially media-conscious times. You will notice that the shelves are slightly random and, if I may, I would like to draw your particular attention to the lack-of-inspiration board – I cleared off what I had on there, but haven’t quite made a start on any new inspiration.

But we were going to talk about notebooks, weren’t we? I’ll tackle the unit sector by sector, working from left to right.

Left-hand pigeon-holes

These are lesser-used items and generally hide behind a cute pen-holder made from a pair of my grandson’s denims. There’s a very slim Kikki K notepad with pink paper then a Clairefontaine 1951 exercise book which I used as a Writing Notebook back in 2017. After that, a mock-up disc-bound book I put together using Atoma metal discs, William Hannah cardboard dividers, and paper from a notebook that I punched to fit and which I haven’t used. Randomly, I have stuffed the plastic dividers from the Filofax loose-leaf notebooks in next. The pale pink notebook is from Inspired Stories; I ordered it with my 100-day planner and it will either become my first journal of 2021 or my next Writing Notebook. The final paper item in this section is my Personal size Filofax ring-binder which holds important household information that I need to refer to occasionally.

The other two sections on this side of the bureau hold a roll of packing tape and inks: Waterman Inspired Blue; Diamine Majestic Purple and Wild Strawberry; Lamy Crystal Peridot, Ruby and Benitoite; Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue.

Right-hand pigeon-holes

Skipping the middle section for the time being, we come to my most frequently used items: my fawn exercise book by Mark and Fold which is my daily journal and the daily horoscopes to the end of 2021. I take these off the shelf every morning, write my entry, then return them. The red spine is that of a cheap composition book I bought in Tiger which I’m considering using for journal entries as the Mark and Fold book won’t last until the end of the year. You can’t really see it, but there is a black-covered thin notebook from Stamford Notebook Company which is similarly possibly ear-marked as a stop-gap journal. The thin notebook with the black and silver spine is from Laura Ashley and it’s the one I sporadically collate quotes in. Then there’s another Clairefontaine 1951 exercise book, which is also awaiting consideration as a stop-gap journal.

The next little section working to the right starts with my beautiful William Hannah leather notebook. This was my everyday planner before I started the Inspired Stories bound daily book and I am now trying to decide between two different uses for it in 2021: it will become either be my daily journal (thus the reason I’m using exercise books as stop-gaps up to the end of this year), or my Writing Notebook. Beside that is my current Writing Notebook, a RhodiaRama with their Sapphire cover. The last item in this section is a William Hannah Archive book – this comes as a set of discs and two covers and houses pages you no longer need in your leather notebook.

The final little section on this side of the bureau starts with my red Filofax loose-leaf notebook containing pages detailing inks. Then there is a Bullet Journal book with a pretty teal and gold geometric design which I haven’t started using yet, and my very old Knitting Notebook which has project notes from 2012 to 2019 and has a cover with photos of a very young grandson.

You haven’t already finished your coffee have you?

The middle bit with books that belong elsewhere

Now, the middle section together with a pile of notebooks that, for various reasons, don’t live on this unit. On the little shelves in the middle of the bureau I keep some sticky notes and an old J Herbin cartridge tin which holds the nib of my dip pen. On the middle shelf is a leather box, possibly meant for jewellery or collar studs, in which I keep the various converters for my fountain pens and a syringe for filling pens which looks mighty dodgy to people who are not au fait with the vagaries of fountain pen users.

I’ll tackle the pile of paper from top down this time. First up there’s a tiny Filofax loose-leaf Notebook – you can tell how much I use that by the fact I haven’t bothered to take the sticker off. I take the stickers off everything! It’s a useful scribble block when I need one and is usually just tucked away on a shelf in my bookcase. The second Laura Ashley journal comes next, this time it has a silver cover with a foliage design. This is my current Knitting Notebook and lives in my knitting basket. Under that with the pale blue cover is the Inspired Stories 100-day planner which I’ll be using up to mid-December. I’ve mentioned this many times before and I enjoy using it, but I wouldn’t want to get another daily planner. The purple cover belongs to a William Hannah pocket notebook which has found its purpose by being the perfect size to slot into my lovely new/old leather wallet; I write shopping lists in it so I can avoid the mask-wearing problems associated with looking at shopping lists on the phone. At the bottom of this pile is my Filofax A5 Original which will be my planner for 2021.

Don’t worry, we’re getting through it!

Upper shelf ‘inside’ the bureau

This shelf runs directly underneath the pigeon-hole section. To the left is my pile of completed journals. I won’t go through these individually, and I would suggest you never ask me to! The middle pile has a Mark and Fold black-cover notebook on top (number 337 of a run of 400) which is a completed Writing Notebook. Under that is a green-cover Mark and Fold 2018 Diary which I adored using. Then another Filofax loose-leaf Notebook, this time their beautiful Vista Blue colour, home to my 2019 diary pages which I removed from the Mark and Fold Diary so I could combine them with notebook pages. At the bottom of this pile is my Collins English Dictionary which originally belonged to my dad. There’s a small pile at the right of the shelf topped by the book I am currently transcribing old journal entries into. This is a Paperblanks notebook with a very pretty black and gold design on the cover. That is sitting on top of The Writer’s Toolbox which contains a variety of fun writing aids such as prompts on sticks and a wheel that you can spin to come up with ideas. Below that are the pages of the Scrivener manual that I’ve printed so far and, at the very bottom, the lovely blue folder containing the print-out of the first draft of my novel.

Courage, mon brave, we are nearly there!

The lower shelf – “The Shelf of Doom”

This is mainly where it all goes to pot because I just lobbed things on this shelf in order to have them somewhere. So, we start again at the left. On top is a Mark and Fold exercise book and below this the Aquarius journal. These are both recently completed daily journals – I finished the Aquarius one and moved into the Mark and Fold one – and just need to be dated and then moved up to the completed journals stack. Underneath those are some bits I took off the inspiration board, then some prints of creative writing stuff which really should be in the bottom folder. These hide the cheap clear plastic ring-binder that I sometimes use when hand-writing fictional pieces. Supporting them all is a ring-binder with print-outs of random old creative writing bits and bobs.

The middle and right-hand side have some wooden crates with nothing in – I am yet to determine a purpose for them and that purpose may be to go and live in a charity shop! Draped over these is a padded laptop sleeve, uninspiring, but functional. In front is a Rhodia paper bloc and hidden underneath that is a pad of Basildon Bond writing paper. To the right of them is a black box lid containing some random stuff that needs to be either scanned or put in scrapbooks. Yep, this is the to-do shelf!

Going back to the original question, then, many of these have served the same purpose but at different times and now form my ‘archive’. In current use are:-

  • Inspired Stories 100-day planner
  • Mark and Fold exercise book (daily journal)
  • Laura Ashley quotes book
  • Rhodiarama Writing Notebook
  • Laura Ashley Knitting Notebook
  • William Hannah pocket notebook for shopping lists
  • Filofax loose-leaf Notebook for recording various inks

Because the purpose served by each is very different, it’s not hard to keep them straight in my mind – each one comes into play when I’m doing a particular activity, so the knitting notebook won’t get confused with the writing notebook, for example.

This has been a really useful exercise for me because it has made me think how the books could be grouped much more logically. Lastly, I’d like to say a big thank-you to ReginaMary for the inspiration for this post, and to you all for making it to the end of this epic.

Now go and reward yourselves with a nice cake!

5 thoughts on “All these notebooks

  1. Wow, I just have a moleskin week planner, on the calendar page I write my appointments etc, on the lined side I write what perfumes I wore and what meals I ate and books I read

    1. That’s brilliant and, in reality, all that is needed. The only reason for the slight overkill here at Pamalison Mansions is my love of stationery and fountain pens. I also wonder if I feel, deep down, rather insubstantial and I need my past there with me in a tangible format otherwise I might just float away completely?

  2. Wow! I had no idea how robust your collection is!! I had a cup of coffee and came back later with a shot of bourbon. I am quiet envious of all the beautiful resources. I am going to check out each of your items online and live vicariously through this post.
    I am so happy you posted this Pam. I have a ‘thing’ for journals. xoxo Regina

    1. It was really fun to do this and thanks, once again, for the prompt. If you enjoy journals, have you come across the blog Although some of it is reviews of new notebooks, he often features stories of people using their notebooks, historical notebooks, and people’s collections. It’s one I enjoy browsing.

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