Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not-So-Blank Notebooks

Hunting around for not-so-blank journals made me realize that notebooks are changing, too.  For years writers as well as school kids have depended on the ruled white pages of composition books and spiral-bound notebooks to contain their scribbles; I've used hundreds, possibly thousands of them myself.  Finding new and creative versions of these old standbys delighted me, mainly because I didn't expect to see notebooks change -- but they have, and in wonderfully imaginative ways:

This composition-size spiral-bound notebook has an antique look to it, but the real surprise is between the covers:

Instead of the usual white ruled pages, this notebook has pages printed with four different colors and artistic designs.  What it doesn't have is a single line, so you have plenty of room to write, sketch, mount photos or images and otherwise fill the pages however you like.  From Papaya Art; I got mine for $10.76 at my local art store.

You don't have to shop at an art store to find interesting notebooks; I found these two at Target for under $10.00:

The inside pages of the notebook with the flower cover have light gray dots instead of the usual lines (handy for anyone who wants to work out maps or other types of drawings on a gridded surface) while the Poetry/Art/History composition book offers a more elegant spin on ruled pages:

One trick I'm learning is to look for unusual notebooks in places other than the office supply shops and aisles.  I found this notebook with colored, printed and plain white pages at an art supply store; it's sold as an art journal kit but would work great as a notebook.  While gathering school supplies for my kid, I noticed Crayola had put out various sizes of what looked to be a pretty standard spiral-bound notebook.  Which it is, until you write on a page with the pen provided by Crayola, and bring out the psychedelic colors embedded in every inch of the paper.

If you don't find the notebooks you want to use, you can begin making your own.  Collect interesting papers until you have a nice stack, punch holes in them and place them in folder with grommets or a slim binder, and you've got your own notebook.  If you'd like to spiral bind them, you can have that done at most printing service outlets; Office Depot also has a number of spiral binding machines you can purchase and use at home to put together your own notebooks; I even found a video over on YouTube that demonstrates how one of the them works.

Tomorrow I'll wrap up my quest with one final look at some of the other not-so-blank books I've found and the giveaway I promised, so stop in if you get a chance.  (Those of you who are addicted to notebooks might also like to visit Nifty's Notebook Stories blog to see what other writers all over ther planet are using.)


  1. Fun post. I love a good notebook.

  2. I found two new notebooks at Staples when I went in for printer ink the other day. They have a really good selection.

    I have years of journals--some very expensive, some really cheap, some with quotes, no lines, images--there's no end to the diversity, or the pleasure of starting a new one!

  3. Just a note for my commenters: one of my visitors received a warning from her internet security software that my links to the Crayola notebooks lead to a malicious web site. I personally coded them with the following links to the images that I posted on my Photobucket account:

    I also rechecked the links and neither one has changed or has been tampered with. As far as I'm aware Photobucket, which I use almost daily to host my blog photos, has never been and has never become a malicious web site. I'm not sure why the warning message came up, but I can assure you that as of the writing of this comment the links go only to the two images I took with my Canon camera, and lead to nowhere else.

    I always appreciate a heads-up when something like this happens, and my thanks to Reba for letting me know about it.

  4. I'd like to second the suggestion of getting a copy-place or small printer make notebooks! I made a really fun story book on Lulu (they're a print on demand place) and some sketchbooks. For the story book, I made a neat cover with Morguefile photos. Inside I put character and plot sheets I'd made in Word, plus extra blank pages. For the sketchbook, I did the same sort of thing, except I put blank pages in. It was really fun and surprisingly inexpensive, considering how much some sketchbooks/notebooks can cost.

    I'm hoping to do Nano this year, and I'm thinking I'll make a fresh notebook for plots, characters, and a bunch of the neat story-building ideas you've suggested. Instead of using more morguefile photos, I'm thinking of doing a scan of a painting I made in a class recently. I'm really shy about it, but I think it might turn out neat. Maybe I'll try adding some black and white sketches like the flowers above.

    Sorry. Didn't mean to go on. Just wanted to share some fun ideas in case anyone else would like to try them.....

  5. I love when you show us what you've found while out shopping. It lets me enjoy without spending a penny. :) I got one of those Crayola ones with the color changing pet a while back. I wasn't terribly impressed. The colors weren't as dynamic as I expected and the ink bled through to the back of the page. The directions say that the backside of the page doesn't do the color change trick, but you can write on it with regular pen or pencil. The trouble is, with that bleed-through, I don't think it would be useable. Still, it is fun to try out new stuff.

  6. I've been looking for a couple of blank books to send to an artist friend. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  7. Anonymous10:42 PM

    For binding machines, there's also the Zutter Bind-it-All, which looks like it's a bit less expensive than most of the Office Depot options. On the other hand, I think it's also smaller, but I've seen YouTube demos where people bind larger books, just using two wires.

    And oh wow, I think I need one of those Crayola notebooks! :o

  8. I like Crayola products, especially their color pencils and those psychedelic colors sound good. I haven't seen that item around my local stores but maybe I will soon. If not I may have to special order it, lol.

    For all the colors you get on the pages of the first floral notebook, $10.46 isn't bad either for a notebook. I prefer the plain sheet- it inspires me to write more. When I'm presented with lines or some other method of controlling the space, I don't feel as comfortable.

  9. What a creative way to make a notebook your own. My niece uses notebooks this for school, I would love to put a photo on a notebook for her. I'm going to have to try to be as crafty as you and try this!

    Sara Welsh |


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