plannerI follow several folks in the art blogging community, and became aware, too late, of a fabulous little venture called “One Book July.” The premise was for all the notebook addicts out there to get “back to basics” as it were, and spend the whole month doing all of their writing, journaling, planning, list-making and so on in just one notebook.

What a fascinating exercise this was! Where already-written books are concerned, I an a devout eBook user. If it’s only words, I am just as happy to read them in pixel form. But when it comes to  artistic creation, I am all over the paper fetishism!

So, what was the impetus for the “One Book” project? Well, many notebook addicts have quite a stash, and it can be tempting to segregate different things into different books just so that you get to use them up.  Others like to keep their work and home stuff separate. And sometimes, you may need special paper for different uses. I am playing around with pixel art right now, for instance, and it requires graph paper. I had to buy a special notebook for that.

As someone who discovered their art interests later in life and previously used paper only to read from, it has been fascinating for me to experiment with all of the different brands and paper types out there too. I had no idea one piece of paper could be so different from another! Clairefontaine, a French brand, is very smooth and takes even the wettest marker without streaking. The downside of this smoothness is that it takes forever for anything to dry on it, and I ruined several pages in the graph notebook to smudging as I worked. Meanwhile, Lynda Barry’s fantastic work inspired me to play around with a dollar store composition notebook, and I learned that you get what you pay for. Every pen I tried bled through the paper, and even ballpoint pens left such dents that you could only use one side.

to-doI found the One Book people with only two weeks of July to go, but I joined them on their little venture and set out to find my perfect notebook. I tried a page-a-day planner; it was too restrictive for me. I found a local Japanese paper store and played with the much-Pinterested Midori; I loved that its booklet inserts could let you segregate your stuff a little better (work in one insert, play in the other, for instance); but it drove me crazy that I could not make the darned thing lie flat.
Finally, I did find my book bliss and I learned to love the same old Moleskine sketchbook I had been using all along. It isn’t perfect. I do more art stuff and list stuff than I do pure writing, but there are times I do miss having lines on the paper. And the Midori was such a perfect concept for me for keeping the work/home separate…

stickersBut I have found that the paper in this notebook is a beast, and can handle anything. I like that I can use marker in it! And when I do really need a page with lines, it can handle being glued upon. In its present condition, I could not use this as a work meeting. But I have almost used up my book, and when I start my next one,  plan to just use both ends of it: work stuff starting at the back of the book, play stuff working from the front.

In my many eBook write-ups over the years, I know I have frowned upon the ‘smell of paper’ people. But when you are creating a book by hand…well, then, it matters! Even though I have found a notebook which words for me, I probably will keep experimenting. It’s fun to get new paper to play on!

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Finally got my hands on the Moleskine sketchbook you recommend, and it’s great. I love to keep a handwritten journal, but I’d never done anything more than write words in it—now I see how many other uses it can have. I have my colored pencils out and I’m drafting my quilting projects in it, instead of on scraps of paper. Plus keeping track of … well so many other things. Thanks so much for this article, Joanna.

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