In praise of cheap journals.

(Diesen Post hab ich ursprünglich für eine Community auf Imzy geschrieben, aber ich finde er passt auch hier gut hin. Und nachdem ich hier und dort eh den gleichen Nick verwende... ¯\(ツ)/¯ )

I have a ... thing... about journals/notebooks/sketchbooks...

For most of my life, I've been fascinated by books, whether printed or blank. Their look, their potential, their physicality, the way the paper feels under my fingers, ... Well, you get the idea.

Often, when I saw a new, different or simply pretty journal and I happened to have enough cash on my to buy it, I couldn't leave a shop without it, whether I actually needed a new journal or not.

(This got so bad that I had to stop visiting shops that sold them or only go into them when I had absolutely no money to spend.)

And yet, the prettier (and thus often the more expensive) my newfound treasure was, the harder it was for me to actually use it. I'd stare at the blank page and be paralyzed by the possibility of somehow "ruining" it by putting something in it that wasn't "good enough". After all, it's such a beautiful artifact, how could any sketch, story, note or diary entry be worthy enough?

(Once, my then partner gifted me a sketchbook she'd had custom made for me by a bookbinder. Hardcover, multiple different kinds of paper, my name in gold lettering embossed on the back, ... It's one of the greatest gifts I have ever received but over ten years later I have yet to make even a single line in it.)

For the longest time, I thought that was it for me and sketchbooks. Every now and then I managed to start using it one, but if I made a particularly "bad" sketch or my anxiety towards journals flared badly I just couldn't finish it.

Then, a few years ago, another small pocket sketchbook caught my eye. It was one of those moleskine clones, small, black hardcover, nice paper ... but it cost like 2-3€. Which, luckily in retrospect, I had on me. So of course I bought it, mentaly resigning it to my shelf of pretty books (or the box of pretty books, or ...), but on the way home I wanted to write something down and I didn't have anything on me, so I ... used the book. Made a shaky, scrawly note somewhere in the subway.

And it felt good.

And I kept using that book and made some sketches (mostly bad) and some good ones and at some point somebody else needed a piece of paper and so I ripped out a page for them (!!!!!) and then I understood: Because I bought the book so cheap, there was no (well, less) pressure to only put "worthy" things in the book!

I could scribble to my hearts content, scratch things out without worrying that it "looked neat" and just doodle mindlessly in class, all without the feeling of ruining something.

Since then, I only use notebooks that I get for free or extremely cheap. (And that I like as ... artifacts. My "thing" can only compromise so much.)

My current started-as-a-bullet-journal-and-then-devolved-notebook I got for free from my partners work and one of those basic kinda-A5 moleskine clones that, while still well-made, are not special enough to trigger my paralysis.

The things in it are sometimes pretty, often messy, mostly pointless, but they are notes and they work and I can use it and feel good about using it.

So, yeah, cheap notebooks... <3