Journaling,  Uncategorized

Journaling: A = A List of Supplies

Welcome to the first post of the A-Z Blogging Challenge!

My theme this year is Journaling A-Z … and I feel as though I am already cheating with the title of this first article.

However, I thought reviewing supplies at the beginning of the month was essential to those who are interested in starting a Journaling routine.

One note before we begin: This blog series is based on my newest book, Journaling towards Wholeness, due to be released mid-May, 2017. If interested, please stay tuned for further details.

A is for A list of supplies…
The list of journaling supplies is short: something to write on and something to write with.

The simple answer is either paper and pen/pencil or an electronic device.

However, the choices within those categories are vast. I will briefly list a few of the options here, giving my opinion as to the pros and cons of each.

While loose leaf paper in a binder is probably the least expensive, it can be bulky and awkward. Since we are trying to develop a journaling habit to last a lifetime, I would suggest something a bit more manageable for every day use.

Here are a few possibilities:

  • Notebooks – notebooks come in a variety of shapes and sizes: spiral bound or composition, college or wide-ruled. Because these are so inexpensive (especially in July and August during back-to-school sales), why not try several of each and see which one best serves your personal writing needs. I tend to prefer college-ruled composition notebooks that lie flat. I do not like having to navigate the “hump” of some open notebooks, and I find the spirals often come unwound over time.
  •  Moleskine Notebooks – a bit more expensive than those above, but the quality is unsurpassed. I prefer to use the soft-bound Volant Journals, which come in a convenient size (5×8.25), are narrow-ruled, lie flat, and offer a variety of color options. Moleskine has been around for years and used by such creatives as Hemingway and Picasso. When I hold a Moleskine I feel like a true writer.
  • Leuchturrm1917 – a relatively new journal that is becoming increasingly popular among the Bullet Journal junkies (if interested in this phenomenon, please view my introduction to bullet journaling video on YouTube). There are several advantages to this style of notebook. The front pages are reserved as an Index, to help organize and identify key journal entries. The pages are pre-numbered, which makes the indexing process easy, and the dot-grid format is soft on the eyes while providing enough structure to ensure straight handwriting.
  • Fine Leather Journals – the ultimate in luxury journaling. I love the feel of leather in my hands, the smell of leather as I write, and the high quality paper that prevents any ghosting or bleeding through of ink. However… often the specialness of this kind of journal causes stress for the writer. We fear our ordinary words are not good enough for this space – and that kind of writer’s block is detrimental to a developing a journaling habit.
A final word about notebooks.
Some find using one notebook for all their writing needs is best. If they care about finding journal entries later, they can use an indexing system.
Others prefer to use a separate notebook for each type of journaling. For example, they may have one notebook for personal thoughts, one for business related tasks, and still another for creative brainstorming. 
There is no one right way to journal (the primary theme of my book). Experiment and have fun. You will find a system (and a notebook) that works best for you.
The variety of pens may not be as vast as that of notebooks, but the choice exists, is highly personal, and as stated already, requires experimentation.
I would advise using a pen rather than a pencil for several reasons. Pencils tend to write light and will fade over time. Ideally, we would like our words to last a lifetime – or beyond. Secondly, and most importantly, pencils can easily be erased, which can be detrimental to perfectionists like myself. Knowing that we can erase our words tends to awake the inner critic. We fear what we write is not good enough, erase, and begin again. This hinders the journaling process.
Instead, I strongly suggest using a pen. Will you make a mistake? YES… but you will soon discover it is not catastrophic. Simply cross out and move it. You will be liberated!

Here are a few pen suggestions:

  • Ballpoint – the cheapest and most plentiful. They also rarely bleed through the page. However, I find the writing inconsistency a bit frustrating, and the narrow barrel cramps my hand if I use for a long period of time.
  • Gel – another popular option. If you love color, gel pens provides the greatest variety. However, I find the cheaper gel pens don’t write as smoothly, and sometimes the ink can smear.
  • Pilot G2 or Joy Papermate – these gel pens are the exception to the above rule. While the color options may  not be as extensive, there is enough variety to suit my rainbow cravings. The ink flows smooth, dries quickly, and rarely bleeds through. Yes, these pens are a bit more expensive, but in my humble opinion, well-worth the cost.
  • Uniball – we are a house divided: I prefer Pilot, and my husband prefers Uniball. Obviously it is a personal choice. I do find these pens write wet, however, and come in limited colors.
  • Felt tip – I love the bold color on the page. Unfortunately, I find these pens bleed through too much for my personal taste. If using a thicker paper or card stock, however, these might be a good option.
  • Staedtler Fineliner Triplus – the exception to the above rule are these wonderful pens. The fine tip allows for easy writing and detailed work. The variety of colors suit any artist’s need. These pens do not bleed through the page and they never dry out! I know… I have inadvertently left off the cap for hours and the pen still works.
  • Fountain pens – The quintessential writer’s tool. I confess, I don’t use these much, but when I do, I feel like a real writer. The price of these pens range from affordable to only for the rich and famous. If interested in experimenting… I might suggest the Pilot Metropolitan series. They come in a variety of styles, several ink cartridge colors, and the price is under $20.
With so many pen options, it bears repeating: experiment, have fun, and find the writing implement that works best for you.
Electronic Device:
I am a strong proponent for journaling by hand. It forces our minds to slow down while our writing catches up, and in that process, we gain perspectives and insights we might otherwise miss.

In addition, handwriting allows us to access the right-side of our brain: our creative side. Even if our handwriting is more scribble than lettering, there is a deep connection between the thoughts in our head and the way we present them on the page.

Having said that, I know there are times when using a computer, laptop, or smartphone is necessaryFor example, when I have so many thoughts I think my head will explode, I need a system to extract them in the fastest way possible. Since I type approximately one word per second, a keyboard is the preferred method.

Or if I am away from my journal and need to jot something down, the recorder feature on my smart phone is indispensable.

In addition, electronic methods provide the added security of password protection.

Security is a necessity when journaling. If we are afraid others might read our private notebooks, we will hold back. We will begin to write for others’ eyes instead of our own well-being. However, it is only through the expression of these inner thoughts and emotions that we become whole again. We cannot censor ourselves when journaling. 

* * * 

I hope this article inspired you to go shopping, experiment with a few different supplies, and make the commitment to try journaling – at least for the month of April.

Up next in this series: B is for Brainstorming.


  • Anonymous

    I've been journaling since 1966, but have been lax the last few years. So easy to write online, so I neglect my bound journal. Looking forward to the rest of your A to Z.

  • lorig

    Thank you for the discussion of the options in supplies. I have had frustrations with some pens skipping or smearing. Now I have a few more options to try out.

  • My Cozy Book Nook

    Thanks for stopping by, Luana!

    Yes, I adore Pilot pens… but if you haven't tried the Joy pens, I would suggest giving them a go. They write SO smooth πŸ™‚

    I LOVE Narnia and look forward to following you this month!

  • My Cozy Book Nook

    I envy those who have journals dating back to childhood.

    I agree, it is easier to type than it is to write longhand. Whatever method works best is the right method πŸ™‚

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Debby

    I still have my journals as a young adult. I kept a daily one, up to a few years ago. Now my blog is my journal but you're right. I should go back to writing in one again. I just justified it, by saying my blog was my journal when really, it's a BLOG. Thanks for the idea.

    My theme is all about baby boomers and those years we grew up. Grab some cookies and milk and come on over. Atomic Bombs

  • My Cozy Book Nook

    I envy your ability to read and connect with the past. I wish I had journaled as a young adult – not only would I enjoy reading them now, but I'm sure my mental health would have improved if I had voiced all those anxious feelings I kept inside.

    Grabbing those cookies right now… I love the theme of your challenge this year πŸ™‚

  • Gail M Baugniet - Author

    I am definitely all for journaling by hand. I have a huge supply of tablets (sort of my security blanket) but try to stick with one until it is full or I end up searching through several notepads to find what I wrote "yesterday". It must take a specific personality to enjoy reading about tablets and pens (my kind of personality!)

  • Christine O Cheallaigh

    I used to love journaling, but security is too big of an issue for me. I have never had any privacy no matter where I've lived, and it is way too easy for someone to just get hold of my belongings and go through them whenever they feel like it (no locks, and when I tried using one it mysteriously disappeared, and even when it was still there it was obvious I wasn't the last one to go through it) so I stopped keeping journals. Anything I want to write down goes straight to my laptop, which is password protected.

    That said, I love all of your suggestions. I prefer to use a pencil when I write anything because my handwriting is so atrocious even I can't read it most of the time, so for me being able to erase and rewrite until it's legible i essential. If I absolutely must use a pen though, I prefer the Pilot G2 myself. I've used the Uniball before and have experienced the same problems as you with it. There's another brand I like that I can't remember the name of right off, something with a V in it (for the Roman numeral 5 I believe), it might be by Papermate, but that doesn't sound right…oh well!'

    I love the leatherbound journals but they are so expensive that I have maybe one or two in my collection. I mostly stick to spiral bound notebooks, despite all their problems. At least I never have any trouble keeping them open, just keeping them separated from each other.

    I would love to know where you find composition books that lie flat? I've never been able to get mine to do so, they constantly want to close on me. I do like that style of notebook, though I prefer the college rule kind and where I live insists on only selling wide-rule composition books. In fact, it's almost impossible to find college rule notebooks anywhere in town other than our local Dollar General. I don't know what it is with the local school systems wanting the students to usez wide rule notebooks, when I was in school it was the opposite, at least by the time I got to high school, the teachers preferred the college rule and personally so do I (my handwriting is so bad, if I used wide rule that would just make it that much worse, at least with college rule I have limited space for my chicken scratches).

    I look forward to reading your next entry, here's mine for today:


  • Sarah Zama

    I have to admit, I've never been one for journaling. I tried when I was a kid, because… you know… everybody was journaling, so I felt I had too. All we girls had those journals, fashionable in my kid days, which had a little locket. I had one too, but I didn't have much to write on it.

    I don't know. I suppose that writing stories was already enough for me πŸ˜‰

    Great theme, though, and a great start to your challenge πŸ˜‰

    The Old Shelter – 1940s Film Noir

  • Roslyn Core

    I'm very much a fan of technology in most aspects of my life, and would much rather type than write any day. However, when it comes to journaling and getting my thoughts down on paper, I always find things flow better when I'm using a pen/pencil and paper than when I'm using a keyboard.

  • My Cozy Book Nook

    I never maintained a journal as a child either. I, too, had the journal with brass lock and key… wrote about three entries… and promptly moved on.

    It really wasn't until my adult years (really adult years… like age 50!) that I discovered its benefits.

    Of course, if I were as gifted at telling stories… that would probably be enough for me as well πŸ™‚

    Thanks for stopping by, Sarah.

  • My Cozy Book Nook

    I adore leather bound journals. Some day… when I have learned to completely ignore the inner critic … I hope to have shelves filled with leather journals of every shape and size πŸ™‚

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • My Cozy Book Nook

    I understand the security issue – and cover it in my book (I'm thinking about making that the "S" post for this challenge too). It is a real concern – for if we don't feel safe when writing in our journals, the words will never come.

    The composition notebooks I enjoy are difficult to find, I must confess. Typically I find them at Walmart during the back to school sale. They have a soft cover rather than the typical cardboard one, and because of that … they do lie flat. When I find them… I buy several at one time πŸ™‚

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Christine!!

  • Debs Carey

    I should probably take up journalling as I have a very bad stationery habit. Books and pens (fountain that is) overflow in my world. I just love 'em. I do journal my thoughts occasionally and – like you – did so for the first time in my fifties. I return whenever I feel the need, but I still haven't filled that first book. I do get frustrated with my handwriting as I simply cannot keep up with my thoughts unless I type (trained in touch typing oh soooooo long ago and very fast!)

    Bunny and the Bloke

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: