Putting unused journals to use
November 2, 2008 9:32 PM   Subscribe

People buy me a lot of nice journals, including Moleskines. The problem is that all the writing I do, journaling and stories and etc, is written on 8.5x11 loose leaf paper and then folded into this leather sleeve thing that I use. I need suggestions for ways to use these other journals, sitting so lonely there in their dark drawer.
posted by TheManChild2000 to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You could use at least one to keep contact information for friends and family.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:48 PM on November 2, 2008

You can use them as record books for things you like to do. In other words, a scrapbook, but if like me you are not good at drawing and don't want to have to keep a store of stickers and raffia laying around we'll just call it a "record book" instead.

For instance, say you like live music. You can keep ticket stubs from shows, attach one to each page with any photos, and include a brief write-up of the evening (venue, who you went with, etc.) Or if you like to cook, pictures of memorable meals, again with a write-up (recipe, inspiration, who ate with you). Maybe this is too sentimental, but I also always liked the idea of a "love book" recording the sweet things my spouse has done to make me happy -- records he's bought me, things he's said that I like, pressing a flower he gave me -- that sort of thing.

I like to write but don't like keeping a journal, so confining a book to one subject this way keeps things low key and naturally organized. Memories of small good moments tend to fade into the mist, and recording at least a few of them is something I wish I'd started doing earlier.

If no suggestions you get end up sounding appealing, you can just donate them somewhere like Goodwill and give a broke or thrifty writer or artist the chance to score a bargain.
posted by melissa may at 10:25 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you are into the Getting Things Done system, you can adopt a Moleskine as your organizer.
posted by jamaro at 10:36 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe separate content between the two like you would between a blog and twitter. Leave full thought out ideas to the 8.5x11, and short little things you don't want to forget or want to develop later in the notebooks.
posted by daboo at 10:57 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

One very long, patiently written love letter. It would be a good pocket reference for the recipient.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:52 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I use the computer for most of my journaling and use Moleskines for a sort of informal scrapbook - I take it around with me on trips to Borders/the library to write notes on things that I read, I post photos/news items that interest me, and the occasional photo/postcard/letter from my grandmother. It's a nice way to keep a document of my life in non-narrative form.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:26 AM on November 3, 2008

I think of small notebooks as being useful in places where a desk or table are unavailable. Become an amateur naturalist. Take them out in the woods, or a field, or a desert, or the bank of a stream -- or a bus station or market or soup kitchen -- and sketch/write about what you observe there.
posted by jon1270 at 3:44 AM on November 3, 2008

If you have a women's or family crisis shelter in your area, donate them. I've worked with such a shelter that would love to have blank journals to include in the kits they give women who are staying there.
posted by ersatzkat at 3:46 AM on November 3, 2008 [5 favorites]

Seconding donate them - whether to a shelter (brilliant idea, ersatzkat) or to a local school that could use supplies for writing and art projects.
posted by catlet at 4:41 AM on November 3, 2008

ersatzkat's is the best answer so far, and hard to follow, but the only reason I've ever bought one of these blank books was to use a recipe book. They're the right size for gluing in newspaper clippings or copying in notes from recipes gleaned from other people. Organization has been a fault though. If I could do it over I would start from several places in the book, or maybe just front and back: "sweets" "savory" or "dinner" "salad" "dessert" or something.
posted by whatzit at 4:42 AM on November 3, 2008

I have used small-sized books like this as travel journals. On vacations with my wife I write down a little each day - where we went, what we saw, and often add in sketches. I reserve it for "important" trips, not weekend getaways, etc. to keep it more special.

I started doing this after finding a trip journal my parents kept while in college - the trip happened to be the one in which my mom discovered she was pregnant with me. Reading through it as an adult was really special for me, so I started doing the same for any future kid of my own.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:41 AM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great ideas here already... here are some other things I've done with journals:

Start your own book of favorite quotes from books, movies, etc.

Start collecting quotes, pictures, story-blurbs, etc with a specific special friend or famly member in mind. When the journal is finished, you've made an awesome homemade gift for him/her.

Cooking "lab notebook" if you're into recipes and/or counting calories etc

Themed journal: Dreams, what you ate (or something else really Ben Franklin-y boring-but-could-be-interesting), travel, etc.
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:32 AM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem, and I get around it by using the notebooks as literally books in which to keep my notes. As a writer I am always having to do research, or jot down ideas on the run, during interviews, after thought-provoking museum exhibits, etc. I have tons of different notebooks that are not for journaling but rather for research in places I can't take my laptop.
posted by np312 at 10:02 AM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I keep one journal about all the silly things my son says and does. Another one for household things like when I put batteries in something, when to change the furnace filter, that kinda junk.
posted by ducktape at 10:21 AM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

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