helpful advice

Posted by on October 12, 2008 in craft, photograph | 7 comments


This photo has nothing to do with the rest of this post. I just bought some orchids at Trader Joe’s this weekend, because they were so pretty (and cheap!).

Because I’m the oldest of five, I have to give out advice, solicited or unsolicited, even though it drives me crazy when my mother-in-law tries to give me advice. I try not to be a know-it-all, but sometimes I can’t help myself. I don’t think I know everything, of course, but I do have a lot of trivial bits of information floating around in my head, most of it useless, but there are a few little gems knocking about in there. Anyway, my point is, the purpose of this post is to give you advice, even if you didn’t think you needed it. But Colleen made an interesting comment in the last post, about writing in a blank book, and that is not the first time I’ve heard that, and I have often felt that way myself!

If you are like me, and I suspect a lot of you are in this way, you love blank books, moleskin notebooks, paper and pens, back-to-school supplies and all that kind of stuff. But what do you do when faced with a brand new blank page in that pretty new journal you just had to have? You don’t want to ruin it! So you just keep collecting those pretty blank books, and they gather dust while you try to come up with just the right things to put in them. The thing is, I think pretty blank books are even prettier when they start filling up with stuff-so don’t be afraid!

Here are some ideas for getting started:

1. Don’t start with the first page. It’s so intimidating, because you think it has to set the tone for your whole journal/notebook/whatever book. Just choose a page, the second page, maybe, or a middle page, or even the last page, and just start writing or sketching, or whatever you feel like doing.

2. Use a pencil, that way, if you hate it, you can just erase it! Once you’ve filled a few pages, switch to pen. Just be sure to find a pen you like to write with, and try to keep it with your book at all times. I use a pencil all the time for sketching in my book, and write notes and lists in pen. I love a good, fine, black rollerball pen.

3. Find a picture that inspires you, and tape or glue it onto one of the first pages of your book. You don’t even have to write about it, just putting it in there and looking at it every now and then can inspire you.

Some other references that I like on this subject:
How to Make a Journal of your Life, by Dan Price
Commonplace Book (wikipedia)
Making Journals by Hand by Jason Thompson
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal-this could be a fun way to keep a journal, as encyclopedic entries.

Do you keep a journal or notebook? How did you get started?

Oh, and I wrote all this a few days ago, and here is what my brother said today. See what happens when you ignore my advice?


  1. People, please take HeyLucy’s advice. You won’t be sorry. Lesson learned many times by her younger brother.

  2. I was inspired by your post (and my many, many blank notebooks and journals left empty thanks to many, many pathetic attempts at journaling)… so I high-tailed it to Borders to look for the books you recommended. They didn’t have any of them, but they did have Note to Self by Samara O’Shea. So I bought it and a new journal! I am about to go start! I am so excited!

  3. Great advice! I really like the one about sticking a picture in the first page.

  4. Ha- loved the tie to your brother’s site and him not taking your advice…. Hate those older sisters! About the blank books- I don’t ever get freaked out about them being new and empty- I just want to start filling them up. I know, I am wierd! I love the moleskines, they are my favorite by far. I like their blank covers that I can make my own- I can draw, write or slap any photo I want on them. Why are balnk pages intimidating? You bought the journal/notebook/cool book- it’s yours to do with whatever you want- go at it!

  5. YAY! Steps to follow to overcome my fear of ruining my beautiful notebooks.
    Take the challenge with me, folks. buy the prettiest book you can find and SCRIBBLE LIKE A MANIAC! lol
    I took a step towards notebook freedom, and started sketching softies in my HUGE (its gotta be over 500 pages) CLOTH BOUND, beautiful red journal.

  6. When I was growing up, me mom would bring out her childhood scrapbooks filled with favorite clippings from whatever of her childhood. Sort of inspirational mini boards with quotes and some writing. Darling, just darling. Fast forward: I was asked to journal by my 8th grade teacher. It was optional and extra-credit. She got to read it and in retrospect, I think my privacy was violated, but I don’t care. I think she was trying to figure out who I was. I was so complicated at fourteen.
    To this day, I think blank books are cursed. You start to write in them and it’s all wrong, and the book is ruined. RUINED! I tell you. So now in my old age with nary a hormone in sight, I just rip out the pages and start again, and I must say it’s pretty fun.

  7. That is exactly my obsession, blank notebooks. I have Moleskines, Italian leatherbound ones, etc. just too many. And I can’t make myself write or draw in them. Even the suggestion to start on page 2 or later will not work for me. The pen has to be right, so I would need to try out the ink on the page, but I would ruin the notebook with a scribble. So I just stack them in my bookcase and look at them and sigh.

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