Review by Tina Koyama
For more than a year now, I’ve been keeping what I call my “scribble journal” (you can learn about how it originated on my personal blog). Somewhere between a sketchbook and a daily log book, it’s a mix of doodly sketches from imagination and short notes. Although keeping a sporadic, longer-form written journal has been a lifelong habit, and I also keep separate sketchbooks, I have not been able to keep up this type of daily scribble journaling – until now. I’ve made other attempts in the past at combining writing with sketching, but somehow those habits never “stuck” for more than a few weeks. I seem to have finally hit on the right format that is both satisfying and is easy to maintain.
The format is simple: Like the log book I used to keep, the writing is a sentence or two describing an event about my day. For some of these log entries, I also make a small sketch – nothing more than a stick figure or a doodle that encourages me to draw from my mind (not an easy task for someone who has focused on drawing almost exclusively from observation for the past decade). They’re really just visual notations to go with the written notes. The sketches make the pages more fun to look back on than when the log was filled with writing only. I also find that the doodles trigger memories more easily: I see the sketch, and I recall more about what happened that day or related to the event, even if I haven’t written much.
I typically fill one page in an A5-size Leuchtturm 1917 hardcover notebook ($21.95) per day. I usually spend no more than about 15 minutes a day, usually in the evening, which makes it a sustainable, low-maintenance habit. Instead of thinking of it as a task I “must” do (as I sometimes used to feel about formats that didn’t stick), I look forward to it.
Since I put no effort into designing attractive page layouts, using readymade date labels makes the pages look better. Last year I used the colorful Mark’s Maste Perforated Writable Washi Tape date set ($12.25/set), which was exactly what I needed to give the pages some consistency.
This year I decided I wanted to work on my lettering, so instead of pre-dated stickers, I got a pack of Mark’s Maste Writable Brush Paint Title washi tapes ($8.25) and a roll of Mark’s Maste Writable Watercolor Title washi tape ($8). Both give my pages a quick splash of color where I can write the day, date and maybe a heading.
For those dates and headings, I’m using Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens with hard tips ($22.50/set of 10). Basic black Fudenosuke brush pens have long been a favorite for sketching, so these colorful versions containing water-resistant ink are a fast go-to. Easy to control like an ordinary pen, the brush tip is firm enough not to mush down under my heavy hand. They write beautifully without feathering or bleeding on washi tapes and on Leuchtturm paper (and the ink dries quickly for this lefty). I usually color sketches with colored pencils, but this year I might add color with the Fudenosuke pens, too.
Finally, for writing and sketching, I’m using Uni Pin black pigment ink pens with a brush tip and a 0.5mm tip ($2.45 each). I sometimes use the brush tip to write the date on washi tape, too. Like the Tombow Fudenosuke ink, Uni’s pigment ink shows no feathering or bleeding and also dries quickly.
Let’s face it: I have and love having lots and lots of stationery and art supplies, but sometimes too many options can be stymying. This simple tool set keeps my scribble journaling process simple (and therefore easily doable). The year is fresh: I hope yours is off to a good journaling start with whatever format you use.