What's your personal kit?
In my post about my workplace gear, I noted that there had been a certain divergence between the gear I use in the office and the gear I use for my own personal and creative time. Essentially, the office gear is quite polished and uses a Circa system as a base, complete with fancy zip folio and plenty of DIYP forms, while my personal gear is far more... raw.
I've always maintained that structure is important when you have a lot to take on and keep organized, and having a well-built planner (whether digital or analogue) is key to that. But --although my home life does require some degree of organisation-- it's far less than the myriad projects I have to manage for work. In fact, some simple to-do lists and a calendar is about all I need, along with the occasional contact look-up. Thus, part of my kit is a few DiyP HipsterPDA Action cards and a month-view calendar. I copy down pertinent appointments and to-do items so that I can ferry them and sync with my other planner and online tools as needed.
A far bigger concern for me is creativity. Now, creativity comes in many forms, and that's one of the reasons why I created the DiyP Creative Pack, which is a separate pack in Classic and integrated into the HipsterPDA size pack. Having those prompts can help you manage plots, devise (and remember) characters, keep tabs on story props (like that elusive Holy Grail you keep losing), shuffle your storyboards (did Han shoot before or after?), and otherwise structure your ideas. So, part two of my kit: a selection of DiyP creative cards, which may vary according to the project I'm concentrating on.
But not everything is about form. Absence of form is just as important sometimes. I need scratch paper, I need places to jot idle thoughts, I need blank areas to mind-map and doodle. Thus a pocket-size plain Moleskine with a few blank (and cheap) index cards in the back pocket is a constant companion. At any time as I run about the house or down the block, I just grab this notebook. I should note that this is not quite a journal, not quite a toss-away notebook. I write the occasional journal entry or sketch out an idea, but I also give into my compulsive list-keeper tendencies, and so the pages tend to fill with lists of some intrinsic value, such as books I want to read or movies I have to watch. Contacts, important dates, birthday ideas, and so on round out the rest. That way, I don't have the "oh, it's a journal so I can't write anything in it unless it's extremely important" syndrome, which generally produces a sacred book with only two entries over the course of year.
Okay, now my favourite parts of the kit. I like a sense of heritage, to feel as if my daily life has a connection with the past, a legacy to stand upon. People venturing into my office look around and joke that I'm running a stationery store, and sometimes ask what I actually use. I show them my Circa folio, then quickly point out that it's mainly for work hours. When I show them what I use for home, they tend to be quite surprised. No bright orange Rhodia pad, no fancy disc-based notebook, no multi-hued plastic cover system for me. What I use could have been used a hundred years ago.
Notwithstanding the well-marketed (and --ahem-- suspect) heritage of the Moleskine notebook, the other two parts have a unique heritage that looks and feels authentic. First, I use a fountain pen. Not generally a modern one from the 60's on (although I certainly do love my Lamy 2000 and AL Star pens), but one that's at least 80 years old. Last week my pen of choice was a Waterman 52 from about 1920, crafted of black hard rubber and a flexible gold nib; I love this one despite the occasional blob of ink it leaks from the nib when it's nearly empty. Because of the smooth lines with wide variation (the tines of the nib spread with a little pressure), you'll likely never mistake the writing of this pen with any other. I've partially restored this old beauty as a user, not a collector piece, since the chasing (the engraved pattern) has long since worn smooth. My current favourite, a green 1927 Sheaffer Life-Time flat top, has a much stiffer gold nib but writes as smooth as butter. I'm still in the process of restoring this one, but a little brownish discolouring around the bottom of barrel will mean it will likely stay as one of my prime user pens. Both of these pens were unusable with badly-bent nibs when I got them, but I managed to burnish them straight, install new sacs and fix the ink flow, the end result being that I could enjoy them as someone likely did eight decades ago. The fact that I was a complete rookie when I restored them --rather successfully, to my great astonishment-- makes the quality of the writing experience all the more special to me.
But these pieces all need a way of coming together in a way that's consistent with the old-fashioned quality I insist on, and that's the role of the key piece of my kit: a (take a breath for a long name) Renaissance Art 3x5 index card and pocket size Moleskine cover, which I occasionally lovingly refer to as RA35ICPSMC or simply "my thing". I carnally love this thing. The dark brown leather is just a little rough, the scent of the tanning and dye still lingers subtly in the nostrils, and the construction looks strong enough to saddle a horse with. It holds the index cards at left, has a pocket for more beneath them, and holds the Moleskine and a pen at right. A nice sturdy black leather fold-over closure keeps the whole thing securely closed without any worry about papers or cards falling out. (See Innowen's review for more details.)
So what I have is a nice little sturdy kit that measures less than 6.5"x5"x1.5 and that can easily slip into my well-worn Eddie Bauer guide bag or my small Derek Alexander messenger bag, both leaving plenty of room for gadgets like a digital camera, an iPod Touch (where I keep my contacts, by the way), and a Flip video camera. Maximum creativity, medium organization, minimum load.
Do you keep a separate kit for home or creative use? Let us know what's in your kit bag.