Analog Journaling

Some might find it strange to know that despite a lot of the content we put up online via our website, Youtube Channel and other various social media feeds Laura and I both do a fair amount of analog journaling. We spend a lot of time online, so it is absolutely refreshing to brain dump thoughts using a real pen and paper. When we travel, although we may take a tablet or laptop depending on the trip, everything goes down on paper first. In fact, those dogeared notebooks with rough sketches, misspellings and coffee stains are among our prized possessions from our travels. There is something about that slow tactile experience of writing something down that seems to better set a memory than merely typing it down on a bright glowing screen.

It is interesting to see my preference over years for journaling tools. Looking at my pile of notebooks, there was a period when I exclusively used thicker Moleskine notebooks. But now, my preferences have changed towards simple staple bound mini notebooks. I think there is something about the fewer pages that not only makes it easier to carry, but also takes the pressure off of always having something ponderous to say before writing it down. The smaller notebooks, for me at least, feel more like every day users and I therefore use them every day.

Travel Notebooks
Despite carrying tons of camera gear, I kept a separate journal just for sketches and drawings on our travels.

There is also something satisfying about filling up a small book and starting a new one. Like most, we started with the ubiquitous Field Notes brand notebooks. They are easy to find and come in some nice themed editions. I was particularly fond of the Expedition Series because of their water resistant paper and dot ruling, but found it hard to find a pen that wrote well on the slick paper. I gave up at one point and just started using a mechanical pencil with those notebooks.

Travel Notebooks
The Midori Passport is a current favorite for carrying multiple notebooks.

Being a mini notebook power user, I started looking for a way to carry multiple notebooks. Typically, I will carry three notebooks with particular purposes on a trip (journal, fishing notes, sketchbook). This led me to the Midori Passport. It is a beautifully simple notebook system that consists of a leather cover and a series of rubber bands to hold multiple notebooks in place. The paper, although wispy thin compared to FieldNotes, is actually of a much higher quality especially if you use fountain pens. The problem is that the Midori uses slightly smaller notebooks and refills aren’t as easy to find and few stores (if any) carry them locally. Though, we did find that Scout Books, a Portland based notebook maker, offers their notebook in a passport size which works perfectly with the Midori. Scout Books make a great refill alternative for the Midori, but I found the paper was a little too absorbent for fountain pen use. The local art store started carrying notebooks by Fabriano and in particular EcoQua mini notebooks which are my current favorite. They are the same size as Field Notes with dot ruling, but the paper is much better and works well with fountain pens. There is far less feathering and bleed through with them.

I write all this to say that analog journaling can be an endless rabbit hole in of itself but it is pleasant to have some nice tools in the journaling process. Part of the impetus of creating our latest Youtube video, was to give people a simple way to try out multiple notebooks without spending too much on specialized leather cases.

While my personal taste for specific notebooks and pens may change, I think I will probably always analog journal in some shape or form. I’m curious, do you journal with pen and paper on your trips? What are your favorite tools and how do you organize them? And lastly, what are YOUR reasons for analog journaling when it is so easy to do it on a phone or tablet?