Choosing a Journal Notebook

Last year I did a post on the benefits of keeping a journal, and even listed the different types of journal one can have. (You can read my post here)

As I said before, writers have much to gain from keeping a journal.  Documenting our thoughts and emotions not only helps us relieve stress—it also helps plant seeds for future stories. Aside from being a great source of story/article ideas, journals also help us improve our writing skills.

Writers have an inexplicable attraction for any kind of bound paper. If you’re a writer, you will most likely have trouble deciding on what type of notebook to get for your journal.

You might spend hours perusing the notebook aisle of your local office supplies store, and end up with a variety of them before the day is done.

Or you might just pick some random notebook up. Later on you  might discover that the particular notebook you picked just won’t cut it for the kind of journal you had in mind.

Or you might just give up choosing a notebook altogether and decide to just start journaling some other time.

I know, because I’ve done ALL that before. To help you from making the same mistakes I did, I’ve listed down some things to consider when choosing a notebook for your journal.


Small pocket-sized notebooks are ideal for carrying around in your—pocket. If you want a journal that’s always within reach—for scribbling down random thoughts, scraps of inspiration or sudden story ideas, a small moleskin notebook might be perfect for you.

cross_green modified


Medium sized notebooks can easily slip into your purse or bags. Like smaller notebooks, they’re easy to carry around, but they give you a little more space to write or draw or doodle.

newsprint graphique

Newsprint Graphique Journal

If you plan to keep your journal on your desk at home, a large notebook might be ideal.

Large notebooks are best for Art Journals, Project Journals or Novel Journals. You can purchase a sketchbook if you plan to do a lot of illustrations, or if you’re a fantasy writer and you like to draw maps of your world, or pictures of your characters and setting. Large, lined notebooks are also easier to use for freewriting/creative writing exercises. You’ll have all that space to write, and you won’t need to turn the pages often, especially when you’re following a particular storyline or train of thought.

eiffel modified


Eiffel Tower Spriral Notebook


Beautifully designed notebooks such as leather-bound journals or prettily decorated diaries may either inspire or intimidate you.

leather journal


Leather Bound Journal at Life’

I have tons of these at home, but most of them are still sitting in drawers with empty pages. I feel like I can’t use these beautiful treasures unless I have some wonderful words to write on them—or until I can finally improve my atrocious handwriting.

One day, I hope to break this crazy psychological effect, but for now, I’m content to doodle on regular, 99 cent notebooks.

Other writers, however, may not feel the same way. They may be inspired by beautiful designs and may end up writing all the time.



A high quality notebook will definitely cost more than a regular lined notebook. The material and design of the cover, and the thickness and smoothness of the paper will definitely affect the way you write.

pretty notebook

If you plan to keep your journals for a long time, you might want to invest in a quality notebook.

However, if you simply want to use your journal as a way to purge random, stray thoughts before you do some actual writing, you can save some money on a cheaper notebook.


Some Popular Journal Options


These little notebooks are a little pricey, but their high quality and durability make them well worth it. Moleskin journals are easy to carry and often stay flat when they’re open –so writing on them won’t be a problem.  They are also made of thick paper, so no worries about your favorite gel pen or fountain pen bleeding through the pages.

moleskin journalsjpg

Moleskin Journals at



Staples’ ARC notebooks are a revolutionary idea. You can basically customize your own journal. The ARC notebooks come in a variety of sizes and cover designs. Choose a small, medium or large sized notebook. Pick a heavy, leather-bound cover or a light plastic one in  solid colors or fancy designs.  You can even decide on the thickness of your journal thanks to the notebook rings, which come in 3 different sizes (3/4, 1 inch, 1/5 inches).


You can even add accessories like dividers, pockets, post-its and bookmarks. The best part about the Arc system is that the pages are refillable—and movable!

 arc-customizable-notebook-review modified


For maximum functionality, you can also choose a notebook with a built-in pen holder. It’ll save you from turning your bag inside out just to find a pen.

journal with pen modified

Or you could just buy one of these Quiver Pen Leather Holders to place on your notebooks.

quiver pen leather holdder

Quiver Pen Leather Holder at


Cute, pretty or generally cool-looking notebooks are fun to look at.  And if they’re fun to look at, you may just want to carry them around everywhere. And if you’re carrying them around everywhere, you might as well use them and write all your pretty (or ugly) little thoughts on them.

journal 2






Well, that’s the general idea, anyway.


Do you, or would you ever journal? What type of notebook would you choose?

18,988 total views, 16 views today

Be Sociable, Share!


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

43 Responses to “Choosing a Journal Notebook”

  1. Moleskines are awesome. I am up to Moleskine Journal Number_27. They are great for artists and good w ink. I think Lisa Yee once posted that it is not pronounced “mole – skin”, it’s pronounce “mole – skinny”, or something like that. Great blog post!

  2. Some of those are cool.
    I hope my iPad counts, because if I need to write something down, that’s where I do it.

  3. Shelly says:

    I never seem to be able to make up mind as to what size I want. So I have lots of journals. I drive myself crazy.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  4. mooderino says:

    I avoid buying too nice notebooks and pens because I know I’ll lose them or leave then on a bus. Happened to me so many times that I don’t buy beautiful objects any more, just functional (replaceable) ones. Still like to browse through shops and websites looking at the really cool stuff I know I can’t trust myself with.


  5. Tonja says:

    I like the moleskin ones because they are very lightweight. I asked for several packs for Christmas in different sizes – and pretty much nothing else.

  6. Misha says:

    I don’t journal, but as you know from my Wednesday Writer’s Workspace post that I write by hand, so I have about 14 notebooks in my collection. 9 of them cost more than $20.

    It sounds odd, but the better paper and beautiful covers really inspire me. And you know, my bookshelf will one day look stunning filled with those hard-bound tomes. 😉

  7. Southpaw says:

    I like one with an attached pen or pencil. I have a that thing too that the prettier they are the less likely I will use them.

  8. Jemi Fraser says:

    LOVE those – all of them!! I love notebooks :)

    I haven’t journalled for years but when I did I used plain old school subject notebooks. Probably ’cause I planned all along to burn them when I was done :)

  9. Lexa Cain says:

    I love all the choices you have. I just use a basic school type notebook to make notes for ms’s. I email friends if I need to relieve stress. Luckily, my friends are awesome and always make me feel better! :-)

  10. Neat post! I never knew there were so many different journals.

  11. tcavey says:

    I love journalling. I’ve used various notebooks and laptop. I don’t really have a preference, just like to write.

  12. Mary Pax says:

    I love journals. I use one for every project. It’s how I start to build a new world and a new story. I’m always trolling clearance bins for another.

  13. Senator says:

    Oh, it is so difficult to choose a journal! Great suggestions

  14. I love journals–so pretty. But I never write in them! LOL!

  15. Laura Eno says:

    I love the look of journals but have never used one. Notebooks have always been annoying to write in because I’m left-handed. I could turn the book upside-down and write from the back, but my OCD won’t allow it…THAT’S NOT HOW IT’S DONE!
    Do you see my dilemma? :) I do write my entire first draft by hand – on yellow pads of legal paper that fold over the top – but it’d still be nice to have a purdy little book.

  16. Leslie Rose says:

    My daughter bought me a Hobbit moleskin journal for Christmas. I’m going right now to take the plastic off and get cracking with an entry.

  17. I don’t journal. Every time I’ve tried, all that came were doodles. But I do use notebooks for daily notes and tasks on my desk – two different sizes – and I keep a small one in my purse. I always look at them when I’m in an office store or at Target. I have a small supply :)

  18. Great post! I love journals. All sizes and covers. I have quite the collection, but mostly I use pocket-sized ones these days as they’re easier to carry around.

  19. Those are some really cool journal books. Me, I write notes on a Yahoo email and save it as a draft.

  20. Another great post! I guess that I use my blog as a journal, but of course I leave a lot out that way. I used to keep a diary when I was young. My High School BFF used to fill in calendar squares in tiny writing to keep track of what she did that day. I will reconsider journaling after this post.

    I do love notebooks though, and have 10 for non-fiction/family history and one for my creative fiction.

    Thanks for your hard work, Nut!

    Kathy M.

  21. I love all these wonderful journals! I really should be better at journaling. Seeing all these notebooks wants me to give it a try! Right now though, I’m saving up for a new computer.

  22. Arlee Bird says:

    Those are some very nice looking journals. I’ve never been successful at keeping a journal. When I travel I always have a cheap spiral bound composition folder to write in, but I usually use it sparingly. Most of my musings and notes end up on random scraps of paper that end up getting lost, tuck away somewhere, or, if I’m lucky, transferred to an appropriate place. Love the concept of the journals though.

  23. I’m partial to those leather bound journals. I’m always sure I can write something beautiful and mysterious in those!

  24. I have a mix of leather bound journals and smaller hardbound ones with nice designs. I don’t keep a daily journal but I do use them for jotting down notes about a piece I’m working on. They’re great when you’re on the go and don’t have access to your computer.

  25. Morgan Shamy says:

    Ooo… I love leather notebooks with design! Those seem so magical. Love them. I love paper/notebooks/pens/etc… wonder if all writers do…

    • Becky Jo says:

      I started writing in diaries as a kid & still have them. Then progresses into journal/diaries for friends to write in when we had get togethers. The kids sometimes wrote something. Some people made a drawing. I now have many full journals of stories, thoughts & more. I am ready to start to learn the art of writing a story. The only journals I have trouble with are spiral. I always get them messed up. I like good quality paper. Any suggestions for pens? I like at least a medium point & not a slim pen, it falls out of my hand!

  26. Julie says:

    Lots of beautiful notebooks here! I agree that it is intimidating to write in some of them, especially because I have such bad handwriting. I try to keep paper and a pen in my purse in case I’m stuck waiting for an appointment. Great suggestions Nutschell!

  27. tara tyler says:

    love gift journals! my hub gave me some pretty ones for my birthday.
    for myself, i need lots of paper and room, so i buy the 99 cent specials in a rainbow of colors for my first drafts =)

    fun post!

  28. Nas says:

    Great post! Beautiful notebooks. My favorite pasttime is browsing in a stationery shop-looking at different jounals and notebooks!


  29. Karen Lange says:

    I love journals! I have yet to actually use one for a journal (unless you count when I was a kid) but I do use them for other things, like to-do lists and note taking. I’d like one of each of these! Thanks for this detailed overview. :)

  30. Barnes and Noble has an entire section devoted to journals of all kinds.

  31. Cherie Reich says:

    I love having pretty journals around, but I rarely ever write in them. I guess I’m the type of person who feels like I would need something very wonderful to say in order to put it into a pretty journal. I wouldn’t mind eventually getting a smaller one to carry around for notes and such.

  32. Shaharizan says:

    I think journals are awesome. I don’t use a physical journal anymore though. I use an e-journal as an app on my iPhone or iPad.

  33. Oh, you’ve put my lame notebook to shame. It’s nothing fancy or cute, but it does serve its purpose in my purse, for those moments when inspiration hits, and I come up with an idea for my WIP. 😀

  34. I am a big journal person! I loved looking at all of the journals that you posted. I usually go by the texture and layout of the page when I am picking a journal. Cool covers make the journal even better. Great post!

  35. Lydia K says:

    I know I wouldn’t like a thick, leather bound journal, or a refillable one. Moleskin, maybe!

  36. A beautiful selection! My kids bought me the most wonderful leather bound notebook with handmade paper a couple of years ago – they’re disappointed I haven’t written in it yet, but I can’t bring myself to spoil it. Whatever I write in it needs to be perfect.

  37. Sonnia says:

    I’ve still yet to find a journal with pages that don’t bleed the pen out. Haven’t really tried Moleskine because one of my friends showed me how the page bled from her journaling.

  38. Carina Olsen says:

    Thank you for sharing this amazing post 😀 I would love to keep a journal, but my fingers make it hard for me to write for hand :\ but I do love looking at all the pretties though :)
    Love, Carina @ Carina’s Books

  39. Tyrean says:

    I love journals of all kinds, shapes and sizes, and have a hard time resisting the urge to buy them . . .I have to avoid journal aisles at stores because I already own enough. I love having a tiny one for my purse, a plain notepad for the car, and then I have one in my backpack, and one by my computer, and one in my bedroom. I like the pretty ones, but I write in plain ones too.

  40. I can so relate to this post! Thank you for all the recos. Can you do a post on pens next?!!!!

  41. What a visually delicious post! Journals and notebooks are addictive, I find, but like you, I have a hard time allowing myself to write in the fancier ones. I tend to lean toward the Moleskines because they’re lightweight, come in so many sizes and the line spacing works for me. When I need to feel free to just cut loose and write anything, no matter how crappy, I’ll turn to the less expensive, basic spiral-bound Hilroy notebooks.

    Thanks for the opportunity to gaze at the notebook loveliness!

  42. Littlewings85 says:

    Hi, i was wondering if you could help me. I’m looking for a journal/sketchbook to take traveling with me. I don’t want to take several due to packing constraints and luggage weight limits so i think it would be better to take one that is quite thick and will last a long time. I also really love the old leather bound ones but the ones i seem to be finding online etc are around £20-30 and quite thin. As it will be a special one for my travels i don’t mind paying a little extra but the size of these i would have to take about three! Does anyone know of anything that sounds like what i want? (Preferably UK based as that’s where i live at the moment.) Thanks in advance if anyone has any ideas!

Your COMMENTS Brighten Up My Writing Days!