Planner and paper tasting kick-off for 2021

Midori MD planner and NTU notebook

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I talked about this in passing in my analogue daily journal post, but I added a few more things to round out the system, after using the other journal/planner combo for a few months.

Planner: Midori MD Notebook Light, A5, grid ruling

Midori MD Notebook light (grid) serves as the planner for the year, with monthly view spreads. I've put it inside an Aranzi Aronzo notebook jacket. There's 1 spread for the year, then 13 spreads for each month (Jan-Dec 2021 + Jan 2022). I drew a different little plant icon on the corner of every monthly spread.

Photo collage of 2 notebooks on a grey desk. The left-hand notebook is a Midori MD Light Note book in A5 size with grid ruling. It is slipped into an Aranzi Aronzo notebook jacket that has an integrated zipper pocket. The jacket is light tealed in colour, with dark brown cartoon animals printed on the front. Collage mainly shows the hand-drawn yearly and monthly calendar interiors of the Midori MD notebook, which I'm using as a planner. The right-hand notebook is a brown kraft covered one from NTU.

I added a few pages for projects, media, achievements, and a loose habit tracker.

Photo collage showing the interior spreads of the Midori MD Notebook planner with grid ruling Spreads shown include- projects, media, achievements, and a loose habit tracker.

I'm doing fountain pen "paper tasting" for 2021, meaning I'm going to journal in separate and different lower-page count notebooks, every 2 months or so. The first one to go is...

Journal: NTU Press Bookstore 臺大出版中心校史館書店 notebook, A5, no ruling

The National Taiwanese University Press Bookstore (Pinkoi storefront) has branded stationery, including fountain pens, notebooks, and more. This also includes the Taiwanese-designed Take a Note planner that uses Tomoe River 68gsm paper that I've only seen places like Shigure Inks stock in North America. The planner design won a Good Design award in 2017.

I got some of their basic sewn brown kraft notebooks that were marketed as being suitable for fountain pens.

Photo of 2 brown kraft paper notebooks with NTU (National Taiwan University) branding on the front cover. Covers are plain and minimal, other than the University's name printed in small font on the covers.

Pages are blank/unruled, 米道林(楓林紙) 100gsm paper, 64 pages total. The paper isn't white, more like a cream stock (comparable to the colour of midori MD, perhaps a tad lighter).

Photo collage of fountain pen ink tests on an interior page of the NTU cover. The left-image shows consecutive rows of handwriting, done in different coloured inks. The right-image shows the back-side of the page that was written to, to show that there is minmal ink bleedthrough (only when there was flex nib used, or certain inks used)

Most of my inks did fine on the paper. The ones that feathered and bled were Sailor Kobe Kounan Maroon, Platinum Carbon Black, and J. Herbin Emeraude de Chivor. FPR Royal Flush Blue was also a bit more prone to feathering, but not in a significant way (to me).

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting, using flex nib/applying pressure on the nib.

Pushing down on the nib with "flex" also caused the ink to selectively feather and bleed through on some other inks.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Compared to Midori MD and Tomoe River, shading on this paper feels slightly flatter for some inks. There is practically no pink sheen in FPR Royal Flush Blue here, and Lamy Turmaline shows very minor pink/purple sheen. Overall I find that inks appear brighter/lighter in appearance, much like they would on regular printer paper.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Overall, I think it's a solid performer! Dry time seems good too, at least good enough that I don't even think about it.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

I bought some cute illustrated and perforated calendar sheets that I can paste into my journal. I might try to experiment with a bit more collage for this journal. Sometimes when the paper is expensive and optimized for FP ink I feel like I have to maximize all surface area for the ink, and not paste anything into it.

Photo collage of a dark brown leather traveler's style notebook in A5 size, which serves to hold the 2 notebooks mentioned in this post, together. The photo also shows a few fountain pens, a roll of dot-washi-tape stickers, and perforated date rectangles.

I also have this daily chinese calendar for FUN. I'm into this aesthetic sometimes; I was close to getting a chinese almanac, Tung Shing/通勝 for the year too. I wouldn't say that I'm particular about fengshui, astrology, or auspicious dates, but I wish I knew how to read the bottom part.

Photo of a traditional looking one-page-a-day chinese calendar, bound at the top with screws.

Today's music post: A compilation of Jane Zhang's (张靓颖) cover/rearrangement performances from the TV show Sound of my Dream (梦想的声音).

Commonplace book + DIY cover

Midori MD A5 grid commonplace book and DIY cardstock notebook cover for the notebook.

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I mentioned previously that I have way too much cardstock leftover from some printer shenanigans from HWA. I started another Midori MD Notebook to make a commonplace book to write down knowledge that I would want to refer back to in the future, e.g., notes from books, courses, articles, etc. Kind of like a school notebook but broader. Since this book mainly sits on my desk, I wondered if it was possible to make a book cover for the notebook out of the cardstock. Luckily letter-sized paper is slightly taller than A5, so the overhang made it possible!

Here is the book cover, made out of 2 pieces of cardstock. The white cardstock was a regular letter-sized one, cut in half, and then glued + folded around the length of the A5 notebook. Also scored down the middle of the brown cardstock piece. I wasn't confident I could glue such a narrow sliver of cardstock for the sleeve/pocket (where you slip in the notebook covers), so I put in some small stitches instead.


After that I felt like it was looking plain for a commonplace book, so I took some leftover Daler-Rowney FW acrylic ink (green) and painted it on in a weird mottled-like texture (dabbing with the brush, but not smoothing it out)

The string tension tore through the now wet paper, so I yanked them out and had to glue the pockets down later on. That actually resulted in a more snug-fit and less "wiggle room" of covers sliding up/down, which was not a bad thing!

Not long after, it still felt plain, so I took a leftover gold STA metallic pen and free-handed the cover.

It was a mindless, 'go with the flow', relaxing art thing to do! Some of the lighting in the photos make it look more teal, while in real life it's more green in the sunlight. Make this book feel fancier than it really is!

Also made an A6-sized one (left) to use up the green paint. On that one I used copper acrylic paint streaks, and also rubbed on candle wax + melted it to the cover for stability/some water resistance (IDK if it'll work, but it was fun to do).

With regards to the notebook itself, it's a Midori MD Notebook A5 with grid ruling. I hand numbered all the pages, and then made an index at the beginning (page 3) + left a few more pages after blank, to allow for the indexlist to increase as I filled the book. I officially started jotting down contents on page 7!

Today's music post: Open My Heart by Jay Diggs. I am a total glutton for this retro-style of music cheese. Is 90s considered retro now? AHHHHHHHHHHHH...

Analogue daily journal

Journaling system for anyone looking for inspiration.

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I returned to keeping an analogue daily journal in June 2020 (not too long ago) after a few years of break from doing "one line a day" in a 5-year journal. More and more I found myself not remembering what I did even a few hours ago. So my current journal stint is more about capturing mundane happenings.

There are a lot of other journal styles, rationales, etc., but I'm sharing mine below in case anyone else finds it helpful to start their own. I think there are a lot of pros: practice handwriting, deliberate self-reflection/introspection, in-the-moment writing for fleeting thoughts, capturing memories to read back on, getting away from screens and social media, use nice stationery like fountain pens and notebooks, etc.

I have a decent memory when it comes to business/work-related things. Maybe it's because I use all my brain power on those aspects that the more "mundane" day-to-day personal stuff falls through the cracks. When I say "personal" stuff I really mean the smaller stuff that doesn't drive towards a big project (I've improved on my own planning rigour for bigger personal projects, like HWA, HWAnimation, everything Love Love Hill, etc.). Breaking down big projects down into smaller bite-sized chunks is a skill that I've developed in my work-life that I now apply to my personal projects. With that said, my journal is probably 90% "super freeform" and 10% "planner".

One of the key successes to my ability to write everyday is that there is NO FILTER, NO ORGANIZATION! Random fleeting thought? Could be written down. Stupid idea? Can also be written down. Cute packaging you want to keep? Paste it in. I keep the journal OPEN on my desk, ready for writing at any time. Next to the open journal are my fountain pens. Because this is a "do whatever, freetalk" type of journal, I needed a notebook that had a LITTLE bit of structure (some calendars) but otherwise no templates. I didn't know this when I started but the community calls this "stream of consciousness" journaling. There's no longer narrative or theme that is predetermined. I suppose this shouldn't be that surprising given that I redirect a lot of what I'd normally put in a toot and put it in the journal instead.

I find that I'm way more likely to browse through my journal than browse through my digital calendar/notes apps.

This system works quite well right now because I'm primarily homebound because of COVID-19.

The notebook: Midori MD Notebook Diary 2020 (A5)

As previously mentioned, I got this beautiful diary on deep discount because half of 2020 was already over. I'm using A5 size with the cordoba paper cover. You can see how the notebook and paper cover are made. Since the book is mainly sitting on my desktop right now, the paper cover is a nice and subtle/light-weight way to protect the journal itself from food splashes (or whatever else is on my table) and keep a few stickers around.

I kept the covers blank for now, but as usual, the inside cover pages have a bunch of mementos pasted in them. Currently I have washi tape, postal stamp booklet/sheet leftovers, and a cut-out from an Aranzi Aronzo amabie/covid-19 envelope stuck in.

The system: barely any...

Yearly-view: I circle important dates (mainly birthdays)

Monthly-view: I write down birthdays, events, milestones, and/or appointments. The wonderful asymmetrical white space around the calendar gives me freedom to write other random stuff. I'm trying out putting a monthly "to-do" on the left margin, which are things that I should probably get down within a month, but aren't mapped to specific dates/deadlines (other than the end of the month). I keep a magnetic bookmark on the current month. I recently added my OC's birthdays in there too because I forgot they existed (is this a huge nerd move?). Every morning I start by looking at the monthly calendar spread.

This notebook only has the yearly and monthly spreads, and the majority of the rest of the pages are lined (subdivided into 8-sections) and a handful of blank ones at the very end of the book.

On the lined pages immediately following the calendar pages, I have what I would describe as on-going reference that is updated and added to on the fly. I chose categories that I felt I needed extra "write it down to remember" help on, but I imagine that this part is very different for every person's unique needs. Mine includes:

Achievements: things that I've done in my personal life that are worthwhile celebrating. E.g., finishing HWA book 1! Like many creatives, I am hard on myself and tend to think everything I make is garbage. Gotta remember to be objective and relative to my own circumstances.

Staying connected: people I should make an active effort to stay in touch with (this list is incomplete and there are overlapping initials, so I have to revamp this). This list helps me email/snailmail people. Especially important because I don't have birdsite to maintain informal connections.

Projects: making stuff! Some of these are actively incorporated into my "monthly to-do" but some aren't. I treat this as a big idea pool to draw from if I want a change of pace. E.g., HWA comic, HWAnimation, etc.

Reading/watching/listening: I'm notoriously terrible at consuming media, so I've come up with 4-ish themes to learn more about, such as AOAR, healthcare, design/creativity, comics/zines/etc. When people recommend things to me, I write them here.

Posts: sometimes I write things in my journal that could be expanded into bigger freetalk posts to share with others, e.g., this post about journaling!

Fun facts: these are mostly animal-facts from my research clickholes, but to call them "fun" is a misnomer. Some of the current facts that are here are actually quite morbid, e.g., the marsupial mouse male usually dies of exhaustion from mating.

Fountain pen ink and tests: whenever I get a new fountain pen or ink, I write a few test lines in here. This is representative of my current line-up (and hopefully it doesn't grow beyond this).

After those general pages, I have the freeform daily journal parts. The lined pages are subdivided into 8 sections because one other way to use to use those pages is to use each section for a day of the week. I just use an entire page (or two) for a day. My freetalk can't be contained!!!!!!!

I added page numbers to ONLY the daily pages for now. I also try to alternate between ink colours for writing. The notebook's existing ribbon bookmark is used for the current date's "entry".

These entries in the photo above aren't particularly private (I'm writing about my fountain pen/ink). At the beginning I tried to keep it neat but the thing with my handwriting (and writing throughout the day in spurts, rather than in one-sitting) is that my handwriting completely changes. TBH my handwriting even changes in one-sitting writing sessions too. Anyway, the main point is that I moved from writing ON the line to IN BETWEEN the lines and I feel like I like that better.

I'm also trying to loosen my grip and that inherently makes my writing looser and more abstract. I suppose that's fine since nobody should reallllyyyy be able to read my garbage anyway!

I've already found it helpful to flip back and browse what I've written; I'm enjoying my time with this!

This journal is also paired with my creative journal for everything comic/HWA related. This shiba notebook has Wai's art on the cover. It isn't fountain pen friendly so I use the thinnest nib and lightest ink that I have and it is ok :). Maybe I'll write about that journal in a different post.

Looking ahead to 2021

For 2021 I was going to get the MD Notebook diary thin (A5, grid), but since I was already booking dates into 2021 and didn't want to wait...I took a MD Notebook light (A5, grid) and manually drew in the calendars. The layout is heavily inspired by the MD notebooks so I take no credit. I messed up a bunch of the grids, but oh well! I do find that the grey lines in the 2020 non-thin MD notebook diary screams "ONLY WRITE" when I hope to do a mix of everything later on. The light blue grid feels less writey-write-only so far. I slipped it into an Aranzi Aronzo smart jacket that I love. The original notebook that came with the jacket wasn't fountain pen friendly, so now I get the best of both worlds!

My thought was that I actually want to have the calendar around all the time, but I don't need a year's worth of journal entries around with me all the time? I'm considering a 3-thinner-notebook system (in a traveller style cover). 1 notebook is the calendar, 1 notebook is a subset of journal entries, and 1 notebook is all the creative/comic stuff. It might be too much segregation, which is 100% not how I did things last year, but we'll see. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES to explore different systems, which I think is pretty fun! When we're allowed to go outside again (in a more carefree way) I 100% know that I will not want to carry TWO thick books with me!

Today's music rec: Mad Woman by Estyr, a Toronto musician recommended to me by Bea!