How To Choose A Journal

Do I need different journals for different types of writing?

The Confident Creative Club
4 min readJun 12, 2022
An old wooden staircase full to bursting with filled notebooks.
Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking about my journals. I’m an avid journaler. I am both a journal keeper and a keeper of journals. I have a lot of journals. I collect them. My collection of notebooks could be considered a form of hoarding but really it’s just that I don’t want to ever run out. I like having a notebook on hand.

While it’s true that you can’t have one notebook too many, a collection does take up a lot of space. They sit pretty on shelves and line cumbersome boxes, each patiently waiting their turn to be used. Really that’s where my problem lies. I am a bit indecisive when it comes to starting a new journal. Once I decide on one I am a loyal friend to it all the way to the very last page. Like reading a favorite book I never want my journal to end. I’ll even write on the back cover, hanging on till the very last goodbye, the train of pages disappearing into the distance while I stand wringing my handkerchief on the platform.

Mostly I’m wringing my hands in anxiety because it takes me a long time to decide on which notebook to choose next. It’s not easy. They are all so beautiful. Some of them are leather-bound, others have elegantly embossed hardcovers, and there are quite a few feather-light paperback journals. I have some that are stamped in bright and cheery patterns that were purchased on a grey winter day on a post-holiday sale. And that’s not counting the professional-grade journals, the ones that come in a range of colors and sizes, that are graded by paperweight and provenance, that lie flat and come blank, lined or dotted. You can also collect all of these in graph paper, too.

That’s not counting all of the cheap notebooks I have. I have lots of those as well. These are not so pretty but they are so practical. There are the plain and sensible notebooks in recycled and non-bleached paper, a stack of spiral notebooks bought in bulk, and cute little pocket ones to have just in case. The latter are like confetti and are sprinkled around everywhere. I find them at the bottom of handbags and in hoodie pockets and also in my car.

And then there are the leftovers. The leftover notebooks are the hardest category to deal with because, like an underdog, they just hold so much potential. They are rescue notebooks, repurposed from a former life. They were once my son’s 8 Algebra I notebook or my bird journal from that time I thought I’d track wildlife in my backyard. It would be a waste to throw them out seeing as they have so many pages left to fill. I might as well use them before recycling the paper. They could hold daily to-do lists, they can be used to jot down recipes, and they can hold a good rant of the day (throw it out and no one will ever know you had a bad day).

The benefit of having ratty old notebooks hanging around the house is that you can vomit all sorts of bad writing into them and it doesn’t matter. You haven’t ruined a beautiful notebook with your words. These workhorse notebooks are like the house dress of stationery. Nobody will ever see you in a housedress. Better to stain your housedress with tomato sauce than your silk blazer.

This is the reason it takes me forever to decide on what notebook to pick once I’ve finished one. I have so many! If I am only going to rant well then I don’t want to waste it on pretty paper. But if I write a keeper poem then I want it in that journal I bought in Florence. Equally, what if I spoil my fancy pages with a leaky pen and a stream of I am a fish I am a fish I am a fish?

So, which notebook to choose? I have conducted many in-house tests and here’s the conclusion: Neither the problem nor the answer lies in the kind of notebook I write in. What I write in these journals doesn’t matter. The words can be to my satisfaction, or not. They can make sense, or not. The notebook can be pretty or not. I just need a journal to write in. I just need to write. So I’m learning to just choose the next journal in line and write on.



The Confident Creative Club

A group of women writers who are working on their creative confidence one step at a time.