Suggestions - Pen & Format

The only time I've ever journaled was for a short period in my early teens. Since subscribing to this site I've been thinking about giving it a try again. I ordered a Moleskine and it should arrive tomorrow. I'm wondering if there is a particular pen that would be best to use. I'm not familiar with the Moleskine paper; I bought it after hearing people here rave about them. I normally like a blue medium ball point, but am open to suggestions for non-fine point pens.

My other question is, what are you all writing about? Do you write about everything and anything, dreams, goals, poems, do you sketch...? Do you have a specific, do you always start by writing about your dreams, then the weather, then about your day...or is there no real format?

Thanks in advance.

- Jen

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My Journal

Jen, I have stood at the same point that you are now facing. I took up journaling approximately a year ago. I had one Moleskine Cahier left in my three pack, so I figured "what the heck?" and started writing about my daily experiences. Each day I used a different pen, searching for just the right fit for me. I eventually purchased a Waterman fountain pen, however I switched paper formats after I filled the Moleskine. Now I'm using FC Compass note pads in the Classic size, drilled with seven holes. I store the written pages in an old abandoned vinyl FC binder. However, next year I'll be switching to a large Moleskine. I love those books!

In the past 11 months I have purchased two Moleskine Pocket journals. In one of them, the only pen to touch it's pages has been a Uniball Signo Micro point. I started this journal when I was interviewing for the job I currently have. Since landing the job, I've continued writing about my experiences on the job. It's not about daily capture, or to do lists. Rather, I'm writing about fears, hopes, funny stories....that sort of thing. The second Moleskine is being used as a capture book for work. I primarily use a Uniball Signo in that one too, although lately I've been experiementing with a new fountain pen i recently purchased (a fine nib Waterman Hemisphere). The ink does take a little while to dry on Moleskine paper, but I like the way the dark black ink "pops" on the page.

I'm still using my original journal, and the only pen I use for that one is my first fountain pen....a Waterman Phileas (medium nib). I mostly write about my life experiences. Occasionally I get philosophical, but I'm usually pretty tired by the time I touch pen to it's more of a chronology than anything else. Some day my kids will get a kick out of it.


Fast drying FP ink...


Swisher Pens ( has some fast drying, almost permanent fountain pen inks (NOODLER'S SWISHMIX WATERPROOF BOTTLED FOUNTAIN PEN INK (3 OZ)) that might be good for journaling. I have the Seminole Sepia color and it's a nice rich brown. I find that it dries in the pen a bit more quickly than my other inks, but if you are writing in your journal every day, that shouldn't be a problem.

Having a permanent fountain pen ink would be worth it if you want your kids to read your journals. I should talk; I intended to start a journal when my son was born and write about him and and his effect on us, but he's three and a half now. I guess I could still start. I may not be around forever, but maybe the journal can.


The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.
B. Banzai?

Anything goes...

I just write down whatever I'm thinking about, whether it's a dream I had or thoughts on a book I'm reading. I also write down what's happened to me or things I've done recently -- I have memory problems due to some medication I take, and if I don't write things down I won't be able to reference them later.

I do write a lot. It's one of my favorite pleasures, to curl up with a fountain pen and my Moleskine and just write. (I can't recommend any pens to you, though, as I prefer fine points.)

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I have been using notebooks

I have been using notebooks for years now and switched to Moleskines four ago. I have used my Fountain Pens in them and it is true that in the squared/ruled/blank notebooks, fountain pens don't work as well. You have to use a dryer fountain pen. I use my Levenger True Writer, my Colibri or my brand new Hero 616 to write in them with no problems with still wet ink. I have been trying out a lined notebook (I usually use sketchbooks), and I will be going back to sketchbooks because they take ink better and I can use my wetter fountain pens (Vanishing Point, Parker Sonnet) with impunity. If I must buy a Moleskine notebook again, it will be squared. Before Moleskines, I used basic/cheap Chinese-made lined black and red notebooks that went for 2$ a pop. I'm never going back to those. Ever.

What do I write in them? Depends on the project. I have notebooks dedicated to writing projects (novels, non-fiction), one notebokks each. I write my ideas for those projects in them, pèle-mèle, and sort them out later on the computer. I also have a notebook that goes with me everywhere, in which I write meeting notes, research notes, thoughts, not quite journaling, and shorter writing project/research notes (for articles or speeches). I journal electronically so the deeper thoughts don't go in the notebooks. My to do lists, my contact notes, my week's events, go in my hPDA.


sorry, somehow got posted twice.

my journal, pen, and content

My Journal

I've been journaling regularly for about 13 years. I've been through many different types of journals. The only requirements was that the journal have about 400 pages in it so that I could record at least a page a day. (Extra pages in the back were bonus writing pages and also used for an index.) Finding a blank book with 400 pages in it is harder than I thought. Last year I bought a 2007 Desk Diary.

My requirements have changed. Now I keep a daily sketch journal. I like to draw and then write around my sketches. So I now require a BLANK (no lines) journal with 400 pages in it. This is even harder than finding a journal of 400 pages with lines. I was feeling pretty down in the dumps because I'd been in all the Borders and B&Ns and lots of Internet sites and couldn't find anything. We are in October and I only have two months left to find a 400 blank page journal.

I stumbled into Borders near my place and discovered they had racks of Paperchase blank books. I rifled through a few just knowing that there wasn't one among them with blank pages. Most had striped or polka dot covers, way too flashy for me.

Then I saw a black journal with a circle sticker on it that said: "Now with blank pages." Could this be my beloved journal? A believe a shaft of light beamed on the book and I swore I heard a chores singing overhead. (Could it be the skylight in the ceiling and piped music in the store? ) I reached and opened the thick book and counted it’s pages. "Wow, 400 pages!" I said out loud. People looked at me strangely and began to creep away. The paper was a semi-thick crisp white stock, perfect for sketching. It's cover is not that lame cloth stuff but made of some leather-like smooth black oilskin material, perfect for coffee cups. (I sometime set my coffee cup ON my journal at my night stand so it doesn’t stain the cherry wood.) I bought three of them. I’m set for the next couple of years.

My pen

I’ve finally bought a Sailor pen with a fine nib. I fill it with bullet proof Noodlers ink. Perfect for sketching and journaling. Plus I can add wash or watercolor as I like. Any pen will do as long as it’s acid free and waterproof (if you want to wash over with color later).

My content

I write about stuff that happens, observations, weather, quotes, overheard conversations, excerpts from books I’ve read and often lists of things I want to accomplish. I index the highlights in the back.

If you can’t think of anything at first, do a Google on “100 journal ideas” and see what comes up. You can also buy all kinds of books on writing promps. Eventually you’ll find that you’ll think of things to write about during the day. You may want to carry a small Moleskine to record what you want to write about later. Sometimes a 3x5 or 4x6 card works just as well.

I try to draw a picture of some common or everyday thing I’ve seen that day. A pen, a chair, my coffee cup or coffee pot, part of a house, a tree, whatever. Then I journal around it.

Hope this helps give you some ideas. One of my favorite times of the day is spent recording the day’s highlights in my journal.

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Thanks Everyone!

Bob - Thanks for the pen suggestions and explaining how you journal. I've never tried a fountain pen but it sounds fun. I may have to give it a shot.

Walter - I especially like the idea of the brown ink. Sounds like it'd give it an 'aged' looked which sounds cool. Thanks for your reply.

Steff - Thanks!

Tournevis - I like the idea of separate notebooks...but since I've struggled starting and keeping a journal I'd better stick with one for the time being. Heh :-)

Dave - hahaa...that was a funny for your journal. "A shaft of light..." hehe :-D :-D Thanks for the "100 journal ideas" suggestion. I did do a search for that and found several good sites! Thanks for all the other info as well. Btw, I absolutely love your sketches!! What a great collection. I enjoyed looking through them.

Thank you all again. I have lots to look through and think about. I haven't started using the book yet but plan to soon. :-)

Take care,


What I tell my students is that if they go for notebooks, they must create a way to make sense of what it's them. If that means seperate notebooks, great. If that means index tabs, great. As long as they can access what they have written.

Good point

Thanks again. :-)

- Jen

happy journaling!


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