You’ve been eyeing that Midori Traveler, but you already have a Leuchtturm. And a couple of Moleskines. And someone gifted you Field Notes. Plus, the new official Bullet Journal is out. In colors.
And don’t even get started on your collection of pens.
Or brush markers.
Washi tape doesn’t count. Does it? After all, it’s so small.
For a practice that is supposed to simplify our lives, journaling can come with an awful lot of accessories. And those accessories don’t come cheap.
Journals run from $20 to the hundreds, and pens (in all colors) follow close behind. Not to mention templates, dividers, pen loops and inserts. Or classes to keep you inspired.
Exposing the myths that make us feel bad
Myth #1: Journals are “school supplies.”
Part of the challenge is that we equate pens, paper , and notebooks with school supplies — which our parents tried to spend as little money on as possible. Add to that the ridiculous loss leaders that office supply stores run on these products every August and we have a problem with the low pricepoint that got associated in our brain.
Journals are not school supplies. They are planners, organizers, thinking prompts, design tools, memoirs, and business idea processors, but they are never, ever school supplies.
Myth #2: Lots of supplies are wasteful.
Of course you feel bad when you buy an expensive A5 notebook only to abandon it for the passport size. But there are no dressing rooms for trying on journals, and once you’ve written in one, it can’t be resold.
Journals are highly personal, and you don’t know until you’ve test driven one exactly what works best in your context. Do you need hard covers or soft? Lined or plain? Do you prioritize lots of writing surface or portability?
Myth #3: Getting control requires a minimalist approach.
Journaling gives you more control over your life and schedule. Minimalism is also a strategy to get more control over your life and schedule.
They are not the same thing.
If you are a minimalist who journals you likely won’t be drowning in washi tape. But if you enjoy embellishment, then tape away. There are no rules about the appropriate volume of washi tape when it comes to organizing your life.
Why it’s okay to splurge on your journaling supplies
Artist-grade supplies can do what office-grade supplies cannot.
Have you ever used a Prismacolor colored pencil? The result is so much better than anything you can buy at the drug store. They lay down so much color and glide so effortlessly, that the end result simply looks better.
Tombow brush markers blend. But you can’t dare use them on notebook paper — they bleed right through. You need a quality weight paper to make them work — which usually means purchasing a sketchbook or a more expensive journal.
Artist-grade supplies cost more because they are made from higher quality materials. (Which in turn, produce a higher-quality result.)
What is someone else’s trial and error worth to you?
Not all journals are blank.
The official Bullet Journal™, Freedom Journal™, the 5 Minute Journal™, and others are all systems that are the result of someone else’s trial and error. They provide scaffolding for your thoughts, so that you don’t have to invent everything yourself.
For sure, you can develop your own system. But using someone else’s as training wheels while you build journaling as a practice into your life can be a big win.
Besides, most of the popular ones are popular with good reason.
You need a palette of options to pull from.
Painters use palettes and designers have swatchbooks. Advertising creatives keep swipe files. These libraries of ideas are design tools, because when creating something new, you need a selection to inspire you.
Having a variety of pens, markers, and embellishments give you a palette to pull from. Following other people who journal on Pinterest and Instagram keeps you inspired and sparks ideas.
Designing your life deserves options.
(And those options take a little bit of space.)
Here’s the thing: what if it isn’t even that the supplies are worth it? What if the real reason to invest is much, much greater?
Journaling is an investment in yourself — and it will pay you back.
What’s the pricetag on feeling like a badass?
You shift the story you tell yourself based on the look of the journal you work in daily. If your fingers are touching quality paper and binding, that’s a different message than catching your sweater on the frayed edge of a spiral.
The creativity you spark can pay off big time.
If you spent time exploring your creative ideas on paper, putting steps to them so they can actually come to life, would they pay you back?
When you put valuable ideas into the world…guess what?
Those ideas can generate money.
The magic tool with an unexpected gift.
Writing things down creates efficiencies. You connect the dots. You see what’s redundant so you can eliminate it. You start to discover what matters so you can focus.
Which delivers the biggest gift…
It saves you time!
And time is a resource that is worth all kinds of money.
So, the next time you are in a stationery store…
Pick up that set of pens you’ve been dying to try, and go ahead and buy it. (Even if it would make your non-journaling friends gasp at the price tag. )
Because it isn’t about the pens. It’s about the freedom to create and design.
You are developing a skill, and good tools can make the output better.
More importantly, they can make the process of journaling brilliantly enjoyable. There’s a difference between school supplies and artist tools.
So go ahead. Take your badass creative self to Blick, or your local stationery store or an Etsy shop and invest.
Your thoughtful, creative, deliberate life is worth it.
Want to make your journaling practice more visual with sketchnotes? Get the free QuickStart Guide to Visual Journaling.
There is no pricetag on feeling like a badass!
Great post Cathy. I’m not very artsy, but I definitely appreciate writing with quality pens (which are hard to find in Colombia….)
If you’re going to write about stationery I feel you should at least spell the word correctly.
Well, that is an embarrassing mistake. Thanks for the heads up so I could fix it!