When I first rediscovered the world of stationery, I didn't know how to choose. The sheer number of brands and options overwhelmed me quickly, and I couldn't pick what I wanted to try. Over time, I have gone through a fair amount of trial and error to understand my own preferences when it comes to notebooks, pens, and the like. Although I'm far from knowing what I like in every category, I wanted to share my thoughts on a few key preferences I've managed to narrow down.
Favorite Size and Layout
I currently use notebooks of all sizes imaginable - A5, Traveler's Notebook, B6 slim, pocket, other in betweens... the list goes on. If I had to pick a favorite size, though, it would definitely be the A5.
I take a lot of notes on a daily basis. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. I'm always afraid of being forgetful, so when I hear something important or think of an idea, I have to write it down. Sometimes I have ten to-do items on my weekly page. Other times, I elaborate on a single to-do list item and it turns into a section of bullet points. Using this size still lets me fit everything into one page for most work days, which helps me stay organized.
At the same time, the A5 size is portable enough that it's not too much to carry with me on a daily basis. I have a large work bag that accommodates a laptop (more about that here), so I can easily toss one in without a problem. It usually stays on my desk at home on weekends, but I don't mind since I can keep it there with the rest of my stationery items.
Oddly enough, my favorite layout is a blank page. I find it the easiest to work with because it has no restrictions. I can write in it, draw in it, stick ephemera onto it, what have you. Instead of feeling the "fear of a blank page," I give myself the freedom to experiment and tend not to worry about making it perfect. I also write fairly straight without needing a guide, which I know is a factor for many people when they say they prefer another layout.
With that being said, I'm trying to expand my horizons. I've become more partial to grid over the last year because it lets me draw boxes and graphs much more neatly. However, I still haven't warmed up to lined paper, mostly because it reminds me too much of school.
Favorite Type of Pen
Without a doubt, my preferred pen of choice has to be a gel pen. They are affordable, available in a variety of colors, and most importantly, reliable. I used to be a ballpoint pen user, until the ink blobs started to get to me. I have tried using a fountain pen - I purchased a Pilot Metropolitan to start - but am too new to them to really say that I vastly prefer them to other writing utensils.
I gave up using glue (liquid or solid) a long time ago thanks to this invention. It's less messy and just as effective at sticking things down on paper. I will admit, though, that I still need to use glue from time to time when a piece has delicate edges.
There are a bunch of brands who make tape runners, as you can see even from just the picture posted above. They come in all sizes and each has its own advantage. Large tape runners are easier to hold, but smaller ones are obviously more portable.
Japanese HB Pencils
I have also returned to using pencils on a regular basis for long form writing. I've developed a particular liking for Japanese HB pencils, which write slightly darker and smoother than their counterparts from Europe or America. I remember the classic American number 2 pencil was always a little too scratchy and light for my needs, so I defaulted to using mechanical pencils when I was in school. Now that I've opened my eyes to all kinds of pencil grades and brands (check out CW Pencils, where I personally bought a set to try out), I might discover even more types that I enjoy!
Looking back, it's interesting to see how my stationery preferences evolved over the years. Do you have any preferences when it comes to papers and writing instruments? If so, how did you acquire them?