Why a dedicated Writer’s “Notebook”?
Index cards, easy to carry, vex whenever searching replaces drafting as the primary concern. My usual goTo solution, the bullet journal, also bombed.
Because writers write, any and every dang where
- Residential ‘hood. Car. Stop light. A crazed fool, flirting with a Guinness World Record, roars past me.
- Could this spell the last day for an innocent? How did that day begin?
- Dog. Walking. Lawn. Infinite hues and textures of green and brown prompt dancing retinas.
- Do the critters inhabiting the world hidden by the lawn mimic humans, electing poisonticians?
- Chair. Relaxing. Rug. Subtle diamonds form a mesmerizing pattern.
- 2, 3 factory workers? Did one argue with her spouse that morning? Perhaps another nodded a thanks to the loving hands passing a fresh mug of coffee?
Other folks stroll along Main Street, absorbed in destination thoughts. Writers instead take the mental equivalent of a Greyhound route. Potential storylines abound, stoking writing so furious it tempts carpal tunnel syndrome.
Here, we narrow the focus to all those non-sentences writers jot, pieces of some observation or segment of conversation, i.e. snippets.
A Bullet Journal, as Snippets Host, Inflicts Woes
A bullet journal inspires joy—on most fronts. But experience trained me. My BuJo morphed into The Enemy as regards “writer”-related notes. Rifling through Daily Logs, or scattered entries within the BuJo’s Index, flushed my writing flow. Perhaps Houdini could wheedle order from the chaos. But not this gal.
My bad? Square peg; round hole. The BuJo format, adoring actionable entries, kicked my Collections-focused booty hither and yon.
Why a Hobonichi Weeks for Snippets Central?
The horizontal weekly covers 58 weeks, dipping into the preceding and following years. The structure, polished with a writer’s touch, yields a Notebook, a/k/a Collections receptacle, receptive to my needs. Within the context of snippets, that native framework constitutes an efficiency machine.
The Weekly Left Pages Gift No-Fuss Organization
Seven evenly spaced slots grace the left page, with a blank 3.5mm grid appearing as the companion right page. 58 weeks times 7 days = 406 slots.
Because each slot bears a date, the factory structure inherently bestows a don’t-make-me-think indexing mechanism. Examples:
- July 5th → 0705
- October 23rd → 1023
The Weekly Right-Side Pages Satisfy Greed
What could be better than 406 luscious slots primed to host snippets? Double the number for double the pleasure. A subtle dark horizontal line under each sixth row mates with the more obvious left-page slots. The combined 812 slots beg you to jot often.
The enormous advantage concerns the referencing approach. Jotting on the right page permits piggybacking on the provided on the left. A quick 0923r code signals see the right side of the September 23rd slot in the Weekly section.
Handling snippets births a two-fold task. On the front end, the system must accommodate easy entry. On the back end, finding a particular snippet mandates equally effortless search-&-find missions.
Creating Snippets Categories
I segregate people- from things-oriented snippets, e.g. conversations and body language versus scenery and clothing. Maxing out at two categories invites intuitive assignments: can xyz exist without a person? Clothing hangs in closets for years; therefore, a thing. Tears flow only from a human; thus, people category. The stingy distinctions foster rapid entries. One snippet covering both categories, e.g. obnoxious Corvette driver ← gut → person-focused.
I don’t want the hassle of choosing an ink color when inserting snippet references in the Index. Dividing a Notes page in half vertically, with columns labeled People or Things fosters easy Index setup and maintenance. The snippet shortcut feeds the relevant column.
- When hunting for, say, a people-oriented snippet, the columns lessen the visual search load. I search through only one column.
- Setup begins/ends with listing the dates, serving as mini-headers. No need to determine space allotment in advance. List dates; draw lines; enter snippet keywords; done.
Using the Printed Dates as Index Location Markers
Writer, know thyself! Not only your fresh-&-alert self, but also the other part that keeps working when brain cells flirt with a near-death zone.
The Pens and Ink Colors
2019’s November 25th opens the weekly section. The date repeats in 2020. Catch me at an off-hour, and I’ll enter a string of intended December 2019 entries into the December 2020 Index area. To protect me from me, the 2019 index dates appear in light blue ink; 2020 dates, in caramel brown (0.38mm Pilot Juice gel pens).
The colors chosen naturally pull my eyes. Colored dates as mini-headers make it tons easier to ignore the surrounding substantive entries. They also preclude psychological hazards attending the wall-of-text syndrome. Read: the page invites my investigation, as opposed to thwarting it with an onerous forest for the trees appearance.
During my October-November testing phase, I write the entries using a 0.5mm Kuru Toga mechanical pencil, with 4B lead. The led grade gives dark lead, simulating Black ink. Kuru’s unique auto-rotation ensures a persistent sharp point. A Campus 2B Campus eraser never tears the ultra-sensitive Tomoe River paper, unlike Frixion’s mini brick eraser. When I declare the test successful, an Energel gel pen will replace the penciled entries … no globs, blobs, skips, smearing, or other pen-induced woes.
Replenishing: the light blue and (caramel) brown 0.38mm Juice pens (for date mini-headers) require duplicate full-pen purchases; conversely, Energel refills line Amazon and JetPens’ virtual shelves. Unlike Coleto (multi-pen) ink cartridges, both the Pilot Juice and Pentel Energel inks last dang near forever.
In action → During a review session, you notice the September 25th entry relates to the October 23rd entry. Visual links, in the form of threading, nail cross-references:
- follow September 25th’s snippet with: 1023
- follow October 23rd’s snippet with: 0925
These land directly within the snippet slot, not the INDEX. A CLEAN index permits quick reviews. I perform reviews with an 0.2mm orange Pigma Micron in hand, the color assigned to cross-references. Tells me this is the preacher, marrying two or more entries.
An Infinite Number of Available Snippet Slots (kinda)
“Ok,” you think, “s’pose I kill each of those 406/812 slots. New Hobo?” Nope! Options ensure infinite slots.
Option 1: Weeks Booklets
You can grab a companion Hobonichi Weeks booklet and tuck it into the Weeks’ cover. JetPens offers the Hobonichi Weeks clear cover; under $10. Both JetPens and Amazon carry the Notebook 3-pack created by Hobonichi, tailored to the Weeks’ dimensions. Same grid size, same Tomoe River paper; under $10. Thickness? Rivals the skinniest of pancakes.
The Hobo booklets supply only 20 sheets / 40 pages. I insert one into another, using wide clear shipping tape to attach the two adjacent back covers. I then remove the now-inside front cover of the inserted book. The combo doubles the pages. Rinse and repeat with a third booklet, for a total of 60 sheets / 120 pages.
Option 2: Etsy Merchants
Etsy merchants join this booklet party. GoodINKPressions, based in Spain, enjoys a stellar reputation. It offers 120 page booklets, with similar small grid pages comprised of Tomoe River paper. Contact first to ensure 3.5mm availability. Otherwise, you’ll receive the standard 5mm grid.
Instilling Harmony re the Booklets, Index-Wise
A perfect Pam would grab a ruler and pen to mirror the structure of the Weekly section, on each page of a companion booklet. Or, I’d number the pages. Ha, fat chance!
First, that repetitive drawing process would agitate my lazy streak (hey, jest keepin’ it real, peeps). Second, the described strategy would usher me to the page only, not the precise entry targeted.
I prefer the easy route. Using a Magic Marker, I emblazon the booklet’s cover with a circled number. I will precede a snippet entry with the day’s 4-digit date, write the snippet, and leave a blank space between entries.
Result: In booklet labeled #1, I enter 1229. I create three distinct entries on December 29th, each beginning with (a), (b), or (c). Translated for referencing purposes:
- 1229.1b: see the second entry (“b”) created on December 29th, within the booklet labeled #1
Simple and intuitive; I need no interpretive code.
FYI: Similar referencing sources in the Daily Log of my bullet journal. To lend clarity:
- Daily Log reference within this Writer’s Notebook: DL/1002
- Same date, inserting a Writer’s Notebook snippet reference within the Daily Log: WNB/1002
Scattered snippets throughout the BuJo grated like fingernails descending a chalkboard. Not to mention my consistent inability to devise a worthy index. The Hobo resolves the woes. Bonus: the Baby Penguins cover coaxes a big ole sloppy grin every time the book greets my peepers.
We’re talking writing endeavors, folks. Smiles = relaxation = heightened creativity = fluid drafting sessions. Well… most days anyhoo!
I strut out the door with the Baby Penguins Weeks nestled in my rear pocket. I’m out for fun, yet I’m prepped to handle writing chores as circumstances dictate. My enjoyable system inspires faithfulness which, in turn, manifests as trust in the system. Doesn’t get much better than that, folks!
This Hobonichi Weeks as Writer’s Notebook Series
The series opened with the calendar month section, converted into a word list repository. The usage respects my multi-year coverage intent.
The second article focused on the facing-page spread providing a Yearly Index / Overview. My reconfiguration yields a 2020-2023 overview of my writing sessions, by category: drafting, editing, research, and outline / organizing.
This third article zeroes in on the Weeklies section, treated as my beloved Snippets Central. As always, rationales accompany each decision carving implementation. The “why”s feed your food for thought, fueling your twists and turns in devising your dream notebook.
Future articles target the Weeks’ Notes section, i.e. Collections, and some of its spreads. Til then … 🐤🐥🐧