Today is Journal Day

The Cramped:

My plan for celebrating the day (which, truthfully, I started last night) is to open up past year’s journals, logs, and notes and tease out any ideas that may have gotten lost in the shuffle and see what I might want to put into action the coming year. On August 10, 2014 I noted that my wife and I were a pretty good canoe team after a jaunt out on the lake at our family cabin and that, perhaps, we should go canoeing more often here in town. There are plenty of lakes with canoe rental in town and it would be a lovely way to spend some more time together. I had forgotten this so, now, I can make it a part of my intentions for the coming year.


The New York Times:

So yes, Kurt Vonnegut: simplicity, in grammar as in all things, is a virtue, not to be sneezed at. But I can’t agree that semicolons represent absolutely nothing; they represent, for me anyway, the pleasure in discovering that no piece of writing advice, however stark, however beloved its deliverer, should ever be adopted mindlessly.

Fantastic article, about my favorite punctuation mark.

'Cal Newport

Cal Newport:

“[He] opened a fresh notebook. On the title page he wrote: NOTEBOOK OF THINGS I DON’T KNOW ABOUT. For the first but not last time he reorganized his knowledge. He worked for weeks at disassembling each branch of physics, oiling the parts, and putting them back together, looking all the while for the raw edges and inconsistencies. He tried to find the essential kernels of each subject.”

I always take notes in a notebook when I study, or are trying to learn something I don’t understand. The first thing I do is to read everything once and make a note of everything I don’t understand. The next step is to write down a explanation of all of them. And then I repeat until I understand it properly.

'Field Notes Tip #1'

I just got myself a new toy from our favourite Cupertino fruit company, a iPhone 6s Plus. This is not about that, but something I have found myself doing countless times since I got it on Monday. I often find myself out on the street or somewhere else where I don’t have a table or a flat surface to write on. My solution since I got my first order of Field Notes have been to use the back side of my phone. The 4s and 5s was usable, but far from the best.

The 6s Plus is a different animal. It works perfectly as a writing surface.

If you often find yourself using your lap or something when you need to scribble something down in your Field Notes, try your phone, it’s much better, and the larger phones is much better ; I would even go as far as perfect.

10 Gifts For The Fountain Pen Enthusiast

Goulet Pens Blog:

The fountain pen enthusiast in your life may prove to be one of the most difficult people to shop for!  They already have quite the fountain pen and ink collection, leaving you unsure what to get them. We took the guesswork out of your shopping by hand selecting gifts sure to please the person in your life who loves all things related to fountain pens! Maybe you’ll even find something for yourself too…

A great place to start, and a good link to send the ones that have to buy you gifts.

Journal Day!

The Cramped

Today, December 9th, is a day I designated last year as Journal Day. There are many ways to celebrate, or traditions one could keep, to mark the day. Heres some ideas.

Wednesday is journal day!

TWSBI Diamond 580AL Blue Fountain Pen Review

Brad Dowdy

The standard 580 has been a staple of mine for years, but when plastic parts are replaced with aluminum (and in some cases colored aluminum!) and the price goes up only slightly, it’s a no-brainer to replace one with the other.

I’m going for either this one or the regular version of the 580AL

Your first fountain pen

There are so many different things you need to find out, when you move into fountain pens, and there are so many different pens to pick from. But I think there are two pens you should get to start out with. Both of them are cheap: The Lamy Safari and The Pilot Metropolitan.

I think the two of them are good for very different reasons. The Pilot is a overall very well built and fantastic pen, and The Lamy Safari have a much better nib. The reason I think you should get both is to find out what you prefer. The big problem with the Safari is the grip section, it isn’t that good for left handed writers.

But I think the Lamy Safari is a very good pen to use to figure out what kind of nibs you like.

Go for a medium nib, unless you already have a strong preference. The journey starts with your first fountain pen. I like a smooth and very wet nib that leans a wide line, while others like a more scratchy and narrow line, that enables them to write tiny. It all depends on your preference.

Most of you do probably already have a preference when it comes to width, are you buying the 0.7, 0.5 or are you one of the crazy 0.3 people?

There is only one way to find it out, and it will probably change over time.

Let’s get back to my point. I think it is good to get both pens to experience two very different pens, from the two biggest names in fountain pens. I still use both of them, and it was with my Lamy Safari that I tried many different nibs to figure out what I preferred.

'The Brooks Review

Ben Brooks

When I started work at MartianCraft I decided that I would try to shake up some of the ways I worked. It felt like the right time. And since I knew there was going to be a great deal of things I would be learning, my note taking system seemed like the ideal candidate.
I threw out my entire structure for digital notes, grabbed a few Field Notes and started scribbling notes in them. After a month or so, I had decided the experiment was enough of a success to warrant moving to a better notebook. I looked around and decided on the Leuchtturm1917 journal as it looked nice, had solid reviews, and mostly it was on Prime.
Except, the research doesn’t back this up at all, which is a large reason I decided to make a go at hand written notes. What many studies have found is that students taking handwritten notes instead of typed notes, perform better in recalling the subject matter and in being tested/graded on the subject matter than do their counterparts who took notes on a laptop.
As I thought back over the frustration of searching analog notes, I realized that I only really searched through them a handful of times. Talk about exaggerating memories. I also realized most of those searches could have been predicted. Because of this I have started to use the infinity symbol on the top of a page of notes which contains things I think I might want to later search for. This will hopefully be a flag upon which I can home in on when I am searching a book of notes. The trick will be using it sparingly.
What is really bothering me about all of this, is I can’t wrap this up with a neat bow and tell you whether or not analog notes are better. It bothers me not because it makes for a crappy ending to an article, but because I really want to know for myself.

My system, since I started using pen and paper for notes almost four years ago, have been to use pen and paper when I do it to remember it, and to use digital when I know that it is something I am going to search for later.

'The Pencilcase

The Pencilcase:

The TWSBI Diamond 580 got very popular in just a couple of years, and for very good reason. If you want a step up from a Lamy Safari or Pilot Metropolitan, and want to get the coolness and large ink capacity of a piston-filler for under 100$, a TWSBI pen would be pretty much your only option. Apart from the cracking issues on previous models (that are luckily promptly dealt with by TWSBI’s customer service.), TWSBI makes some really neat pens, and the 580AL is one of the finest examples I’ve used so far!

I’m almost 100% sure that the 580 AL will be my next purchase. It have taken me ages to decide on anything. I knew I wanted a TWSBI pen, and I wanted to wait for them to do something about the design to limit the cracking issue.

I think, and hope that it have been solved with the 580 AL.

'The Pen Habit

The Pen Habit:

There is no doubt that the Lamy 2000 Stainless Steel is a pretty, and exceptionally well-built pen with a nice nib, a big ink capacity, and a nearly tactical feel to it. In my mind, however, it simply is not worth double the cost of the original. If you’re a writer who just loves that stainless steel finish, or you like the Lamy 2000 but wish it had more weight, give the Stainless Steel version a try. Otherwise, I’d stick with the classic Makrolon version. It’s a much better buy.

I love it when a review answers exactly the thing I am wondering about. This one does exactly that. I love my Lamy 2000, and I’m very happy I went for the cheaper Makrolon version. Heavy pens are a pain in the ass during long writing sessions.

'Pen Goulet

Pen Goulet

There are several filling mechanisms used in fountain pens today. Here I show you how to fill each of 4 types, as well as the pros/cons of each one

This is a great starting point if you are confused by the different fountain pen filling mechanism. I think it was here I started back in the day.

How to figure out what you need

The first step into pen & paper geekiness can be daunting. And it isn’t easy to find out what kind of stuff you are going to use.

Some people like fine pens, while other people like broad pens, and the first step should therefore be to find out what kind of writing experience you prefer. A pen with a fin tip use less ink, and you can fit more writing into a smaller space, while a broader nib have a smother writing experience. You can always start by getting a 0.7 and 0.5 Pilot G2 to find out what you prefer.

A good place to start is to get various “disposable” pens like the Pilot G2, Hi-tec-C or Uni-ball Signo. Buy various pens, with different tips, and find out what you like. It is much easier to go deeper when you have a basic understanding of what you like.

The next step is notebooks. And there are so many different shapes and sizes. But the thing almost everyone likes, is Field Notes. Start by getting a mixed three pack. And go from there.

Some people only need pocket sized notebooks, while others, like me, need larger notebooks for writing, notes and so on. There are many factors that are important when it comes to notebooks

  • Size. There are many different sizes out there, everything from very small, like for example Field Notes to the huge notebooks some of us really like. Some pick one, and stick with it, while others like me use different sizes for different tasks.
  • Book binding versus spiral bound. They are either spiral bound or more like a book, when you start looking at larger notebooks. There are good and bad things about both. Spiral bound is more comfortable to write in, but less durable, and doesn’t look as good.
  • Short dry time versus less feathering and bleed through. This is a very hot topic. My experience is that paper either have very short dry time or they have more desirable qualities when it comes to fountain pen use. This means that you either get something where the ink dries very fast, or you get something where the ink doesn’t bleed through the pages and so on. I always prefer short dry time.

The only way to find out what works for you, is to experiment. But don’t buy a bunch of stuff just to buy it. I think it is important to only have stuff that you use, stuff that works for you.

The paper triad.

I’m not an paper expert in any way or form, this is just some thoughts and experiences I have collected during the last 2-3 years.

There are three different things that you need to take into consideration when you are looking for a new notebook, and more specifically the paper in it. I usually look at it in the form of the following triad

  • Thin paper
  • Short dry time
  • Little bleed through

Pick two.

It isn’t hard to find thin paper with no bleed through, but it will take a while before the ink dries. And it isn’t hard to find thick paper with short dry time and little bleed through.

There are exceptions to the rule. But my experience is that You need to pick two of the three.

'Tools and Toys

Mike Bates:

Visiting Field Notes Brand’s headquarters is a little odd at first, but also a little like what you might imagine the brand’s offices to be like. Located in Chicago’s meatpacking district a couple blocks out from Fulton Market, the largely unmarked building almost convinces you that you’ve got the wrong place. But you don’t.

What a fantastic photo essay. What is that very large Field Notes notebook? And who do I need to bribe in order to get one?

'The Finer Point

What a fantastic review. The MTN have always been in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t before I read this that I really started to consider getting one.

The Finer Point:

Brad once described the MTN on the Pen Addict podcast as the fountain pen of the paper world. This always stuck in my head and I think it’s completely true. Not only do you get a gorgeous leather case but you can modify the inside exactly to your liking. Simple or packed full of crafty goodness the choice is totally yours. What’s more you can pull this to pieces as many times as you like and change up how you use it. It’s an evolving system.

I think this is key. The great thing about the MTN is that you have a cover, that you can fill with what ever you want. Not unlike a fountain pen, you pick the nib type, material, size, and then the ink color, type and so on.

'The Finer Point

The Finer Point:

I love this fountain pen. In my opinion it’s the best fountain pen in the market at around the £50 mark. The TWSBI 580 Diamond series of fountain pen receives praise from numerous other bloggers and fountain pen enthusiasts and I can see why.

I have been looking for another fountain pen for a very long time now. And I have considered many TWSBI pens including the Mini, the ECO and now the 580AL.

This pen has everything I’m looking for: it is a reliable & good writer and it holds a lot of ink.

I think I’ll be ordering one soon.

Nanami Paper Seven Seas Writer Review

Jeff Abbott, over at The Pen Addict:

Tomoe River paper took the world (well, a very small portion of the world) by storm a couple years ago for its phenomenal paper. Basically, the paper that Tomoe River produces is super thin, but handles fountain pen nibs and inks like nothing else. You’re hard pressed to find something that will bleed through or feather on its worst day. Brad wrote a bit about it back in 2013, and I’ve never had a bad thing to say about it. I love Tomoe River paper.
Dry time is incredibly fast, but you will smudge or mark up other pages if you close the book just after writing. Nanami was nice enough to include a perfectly-sized piece of blotter paper that you can use to keep that from happening, but I’m reckless and live a life a danger. The paper is thin, so there’s plenty of show-through on the backs of pages, but actual bleed-through is extremely rare, regardless of the pen/ink.

This notebook looks very interesting. I’m always on the look after the perfect notebook. I think Field Notes is the perfect(or perfect enough) notebook to have in your back pocket. But I haven’t found the perfect fit for all the other sizes. They are unfortunately out of stock, but I will get one to test it out as soon as I can.

The Tools and Toys Field Notes Color Subscription Review

Mike Bates:

At it’s most basic, the COLORS subscription is a way for Field Notes fans to pay once a year to have the latest COLORS releases shipped to them as soon as the editions are released. Guaranteed, once a season, four times a year.

I have considered the Color Subscription many times, but the reason I never go for it is that I prefer the regular Field Notes, and I never know how often I need more notebooks. But I think it is a fantastic product to get, if you are the kind of person that buys every single edition anyways.

Lamy Dialog 3 Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body

No Pen Intended:

What makes the Dialog 3 special is its twist retract/deploy mechanism. The nib deploys completely, a full and regular-sized Lamy two-tone gold nib, and when the nib deploys the clip draws close to the body of the pen, making it less obtrusive (especially when compared to the Vanishing Point clip).

What a fantastic pen. Take a look at the clip on this pen, compared to the Vanishing Point, that is the reason I think high end Lamy pens are the best.

Review of Leuchtturm A4+ notebook

Paper Pens Ink:

Then comes the table of contents. It’s got 30 lines per page and 3 pages, so 90 spaces to list the contents of 233 sheets (or more than 2.5 pages per index line). Maybe that will work out for me, but given the enormous size of each page, I’m not sure it will. I would have liked to have seen 4 pages of index rather than 3.

I haven’t used this one, but I have used the smaller version, and I loved it. And I think I will buy either one or two of these the next time I’m ordering from either JetPens or Goulet.

The Problem with Fancy Notebooks

Merlin Mann:

There’s something about a piece of paper that can be both really intimidating and very inspiring. Because there’s nothing you can’t do with a piece of paper. The biggest hurdle to using a notebook… is to get over the reluctance to put a mark on a page.

When I buy one of these Fancy Italian Notebooks, it’s so pretty. And I haven’t screwed it up yet! I haven’t said anything dumb. I haven’t made something I didn’t mean to say. Part of the problem with the Costly Italian Notebook is you don’t want to screw it up: each one of those pages cost money. It’s expensive. You don’t want to tear pages out of there because you don’t like what you wrote.

You start out thinking, “You know the nice thing about paper is I can do whatever with it,” but the irony becomes, “Yeah, but I don’t want to screw up this pretty notebook that I kind of don’t deserve.”

I have never understood the fear of screwing up a notebook. I just get them, write in them, sometimes I smear the ink and other times I spill coffee on it. That’s life, it is messy.

'Cultural Offering

Cultural Offering:

As a kid, I remember my father at the dining room table in the morning jotting down his to-do list for the day on his mini legal pad as he sipped coffee and took in the busy goings on in our household.  I remember his orange or brown or red Paper Mate felt tip pens scratching out instructions to himself in perfect architect block script.  My father could make a grocery list look like a precise set of life specifications.  But he made lists or, as he told me more than once, it was gone.  During the day, he would scratch a line through his listed items as he ticked them off, making progress and relieving his memory.

I know other successful people and they all refer to lists.  Some write them on their daily calendars, others on a note card, or bits of paper, or backs of envelopes; others maintain large lists on notepads.  But lists they maintain and lists they work.

My life is driven by a bunch of to-do lists and a paper calendar; the calendar is a Hobonichi Planner, and the to-do lists live in a Field Notes notebook.


David Caolo:

I believe in the benefits, yet there’s a disconnect. Each time I try to maintain a journal in earnest, I fizzle out.

Keeping a journal is hard, it is one of the most important things in my life, but it also one of the things I struggle the most with. And I have ended up with a three rules that makes it much easier to do

  1. It is okay to skip a day or five. Like for example when you are on vacation.
  2. Just write something every day.
  3. Pick the tools that make it easy for yourself. I use a huge hardcover lined notebook, and something like a Hobonichi Planner or Field Notes is two very good alternatives if you want something more portable.

'The Well-Appointed Desk

The Well-Appointed Desk:

Before you start asking if the headaches are giving me brain damage, I have to say I asked myself the same question when I picked up this Moleskine Extra Large Plain Soft Cover Notebooks. In general, I find Moleskine notebooks leave me wanting but there was something about the size of this book that appealed to me.

I don’t know why, but I think huge notebooks either in terms of number of pages or large pages are fantastic.