Notebooks: that useful obsession that’s not at all like drug addiction (and cleaner)

So, while I am busy thinking of ways to make Better Belly Month fly instead of flop, I thought I’d share some of the notebooks and journals that I use to track stuff in.  I’m a devoted pen and paper person (although I experiment with digital tools, too) and I find that writing is truly a part of my thinking process.

Here are the four main notebooks that I’ve been using of late:


Starting from the left, with descriptions:

2016 – This is a handmade journal full of unlined paper that I made by repurposing an old hard-covered book with a set of sewed together signatures, all glued together.  This is my journal of daily events that I’m capturing.  I’ve kept personal journals off and on since my late teens.  I’ve used 106 pages so far in 2016, anywhere from 1/3 of a page to 3 or more pages for a daily entry.  I have a missed a few days here and there but I’ve written something more often than not.  As of today (June 6) I will have recorded entries 40 days in a row.  I don’t necessarily put my most private thoughts in here.

Books and Media Thoughts – Another handmade journal, one where I capture thoughts and ideas about books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, etc.  I came across this idea in a blog post and I thought it would be an interesting experiment.  I’ve only filled 16 pages in this one so far but some of the pages have multiple entries.  This is one that might become more interesting as I complete more entries and possibly start cross-referencing them to see if there are larger themes.

Bullet Journal – May – June 2016 – This is a simple store-bought hard-covered journal which I’m using as a bullet journal.  A bullet journal is a system for planning and recording information in a simple bullet point style within your notebook of choice.  Some people favor the Leuchtturm1917 journal for bullet journaling, if only because it comes with its own index page and the pages are already numbered.  That’s what I’m going to use for the second half of 2016.  I’ll elaborate on this more in a future post.

Scratching/Planning/Goals 2016 – I’m a fan of freewriting and I’m also quite fond of using writing to more formally develop my thinking on various topics.  This is another handmade journal which I’m using for a few different purposes.  Scratching is a term used by Twyla Tharp in her book The Creative Habit.  Scratching is an early step in the creative process where you gather lots of information, artifacts and ideas and start playing around with them, musing and pondering, trying to see how you can use the collected material in new and interesting ways.  I capture ideas here for future consideration.   On the planning and goals side, I’ve also been using this notebook to capture various goals that I’ve set for myself this year and to do a quarterly review on my progress towards those goals.  I think I’ll have to abandon this one soon so that I have enough pages left to do 2 more quarterly reviews this year!

This is a sample of the notebooks I’m using these days.  There are other notebooks that I use for more esoteric, specialized purposes.

What do you use to think, work creatively, or organize your life?  Leave a comment or otherwise let me know somehow – I’d like to know!



About markdykeman

One character at a time
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Notebooks: that useful obsession that’s not at all like drug addiction (and cleaner)

  1. dianetrites says:

    Brilliant! I am so unorganized. I write my thoughts, ideas, musings, etc digitally and store it on my computer. When my computer crashed last year I lost everything so now I store it in my Google drive. I also keep a daily running journal on the computer.
    I prefer your idea of using paper and pen to record thoughts. I think it would be easier to leaf through some pages to find specific entries, or to review, than it is to scroll through several online entries.
    As always I bow down to your intelligence. 🙂


    • markdykeman says:

      I wouldn’t bow too low, I make plenty of bonehead mistakes. 🙂 I’ve been keeping journals and notebooks off and on for years but this year I was more inspired to use them with intention and purpose, especially since I had started making my own and thought, “well, crap, what am I going to do with all of these?”

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s