Hello, fellow lovers of stationery. I guess we're all here to share tips and tools and maybe ogle some pretty stationery? That seems like a worthwhile endeavor.
I'm going to walk you all through my writing process, but in the spirit of being useful/putting a dent in your wallet, will mostly focus on the various THINGS I use to get stuff done.
I do all my brainstorming, plotting, and general problem-solving longhand. I cracked open a few of the notebooks I've filled up with my scribbles and took a picture--that double-page half-sphere is pretty much the entire plot of THE SECRET HEART.
As you can see, I tend to break up the page with tables, drawings, nested lists, etc. So I tend to use graph paper or dot grid paper. Dot grid paper has... er, a grid of dots... instead of solid lines on it; the idea is to make the paper as blank as possible (so that your writing stands out, no interference) while also making it easy to write in straight lines, maintain an even border, etc.
I'm also a big fan of whitelines paper. This can be hard to obtain; I really like the Whitelines brand and Leuchtterm seems to be selling a whitelines notebook now. Whitelines puts white lines on a slightly greyed out background; same principle of a well-ruled sheet where the lines themselves fade into the background.
Here are some pictures, in case my explanations aren't clear.
If you're the kind of person who likes to DIY your journals, my favorite place for finding organizer inserts is My Life All In One Place.
If you're interested in the kind of notebooks that I buy, I'll get there. But my choice of notebooks is determined by my choice of pen. I mostly write with fountain pens and I especially like to write with pens that make a nice fat line so I can see the paper slowly fill up with pretty colors as I write.
If this sounds silly to you... well, it probably is. But I have a theory that it keeps the wandering magpie part of my brain focused on the task at hand and actually improves my productivity.
I'm a fan of anything that makes writing more of a pleasure, though. Fountain pens are beautiful and functional; I don't wear much jewelry, so fountain pens sort of fill that role for me. And I find they write better than disposable pens. Plus, they give me access to hundreds of amazing colors of ink.
Here is a sampling of my pens and inks:
Rather than turn this into a fountain pen tutorial, I'll just say that I usually recommend the LAMY Safari as a good starter pen (my green LAMY Safari is pictured above; I use it all the time) and, for people who want a step up or a piston filler (I mostly write with piston fillers), I like Pelikan and TWSBI.
So I write with fountain pens and, if I have the choice, I prefer fountain pens that are incompatible with flimsy paper. They'll soak through flimsy paper and make it wrinkle, or the paper will be so thin that anything you write on one side of the sheet shows clearly on the other, so you can't write front and back.
So that's my first requirement in a notebook: it has to be fountain-pen friendly. Usually, that means heavier paper & often treated so that ink won't feather (bleed little spider-webby lines everywhere).
Like a lot of stationery fanatics, my gateway notebook was a Moleskine. I used Moleskines for years and years. But Moleskine paper isn't great for fountain pens and I started to find the paper quality uneven.
So I branched out. I used different types of bound journals for a while. I tried the Quo Vadis Habana and the Rhodia Webbie, and they're both solid choices. Good quality paper, sturdy craftsmanship, portable.
But then I got a bee in my bonnet about notebooks that won't lie flat. I wanted to be able to open up the notebook, turn to the right page, stare off into space for a few minutes, and then look down and still see the notebook open to the right page. And I don't want to be contorting myself so that I can write around a really rigid spine, or leaving huge borders around the spine because the bend in the paper makes it impossible to write on.
I was really happy with the Exacompta sketchbook that I bought, but after I filled it up, I couldn't find another anywhere. More recently, I've gone through a few Leuchtterm1917 notebooks. The thin, flexible notebooks are pretty affordable, they lie flat, and they also have blank index pages at the front.
But these days, I mostly use 8 X 11 pads of paper, wirebound along the top by preference. Rhodia makes nice ones.
I get a lot of my paper products from Goulet Pens. Also all my inks and some pens.
Because I've taken to using pads of paper I can't fit in my purse, I've also started carrying around a Nock Hightower. I got mine when it was still a Kickstarter reward but there's a proper online shop now. I usually keep a little pocket-sized Field Notes notebook in there, a ball point pen, and then whatever fountain pen I happen to be using that day.
But if I just want to jot down a line or two, or I have a bit of dialogue floating around in my head, I use Evernote. I have a (digital, not literal) notebook for plot ideas and a few notes... mostly it's a jumble because at the end of the day, I'll sit down at my computer and add the fragments or make the tweaks.
Though I also use Evernote to catalogue my recipes and I find it really, really useful for that. For all-around planning, I use the Bullet Journal method. It works really well for me.
Looking over this section, I feel like I should mention that the real source of all this organizing is that I'm by nature pretty forgetful and can tend toward laziness. If I don't have a system, I will fall behind on... almost everything. Which is probably why "make it fun" is almost always a part of my system. I have to trick myself a bit.
Alas, the actual writing of my books involves way less fun, pretty, colorful jewelry-adjacent stuff.
I do all my writing in Scrivener...
My favorite thing about Scrivener is the Snapshots feature. I'm not going to explain it any better than the official tutorial--the company puts out really great tutorials--so if you're interested, check it out:
I found about the "calendar trick" from Vanessa Schwab--here's a link to the blog post she wrote about it. The basic idea is that you settle on a good day's word count--whatever the number is, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000--and then put a sticker for the day in your monthly your calendar each time you reach that wordcount. If you get double the wordcount, you get two stickers, etc. etc.
Stickers can be motivating.
I still use it to get a visual overview of my productivity over time, but I'm more excited about an app that I discovered recently, via Alison Atlee.
The Word Tracker App (though for some reason if you search for it in the iTunes app store, it's called Writing Journal) is everything I've ever wanted in a word count app. It works by timing your writing sessions. You click the timer on when you start writing, click the timer off when you finish, and then input the number of words that you wrote in the interim (Scrivener's project target function tracks this.)
Over time, you get a running tally of how long your sessions are, how your word count per hour varies, at what hours you're most productive and least productive... it's just great.
Wait, wait, before I finish I need to sneak something in here: the first book in my No Better Angels series, THE SECRET HEART, is free for the next two weeks. So if you think you might ever, at any point in time in the future, feel like reading THE SECRET HEART, go pick it up at Amazon or the iBookstore or Kobo or Barnes & Noble.
So. In conclusion. Those are all my little tools and accessories. Now I get to go check out all the other posts in the blog hop.