Nothing beats that fresh new journal smell!
**This is a guest post, researched and written by Emma O'Connell.
Admittedly, researching the "best" journals for writers might be something of a unicorn hunt. As all writers know, selecting the right journal is an entirely subjective and almost sacred experience.
Some will speak to your heart/pen and some won’t – which may have less to do with the 100gsm paper and more with the vibe you feel the first time you run your hand over the cover and imagine yourself writing your potential masterpiece inside.
To help you meet your writing goals, here are some recommendations for when you’re shopping for that perfect new notebook.
For those who prefer facts to vibes, I have included a catalog of some of the more objective features of the journals such as size, line spacing, number of pages, paper quality and special features. While it's true a list of the best journals for writers is subjective, hopefully there's still something here that will motivate you to start (or finish!) your writing project.
Size: 5.5” x 8.25”.
Line Spacing: 7mm.
Number of pages: 96.
Paper Quality: 90gsm.
Special Features: ribbon, elastic closure, pocket, PEFC certification (all paper sourced from sustainably managed forests), 100% recycled paper
The paper in this journal is dreamy. Yes, it’s heavier quality than Moleskine by a long shot, but what makes it even dreamier? Being made from 100% recycled and PEFC certified paper products! I often associate recycled paper with thinner, lower quality paper but this Rhodia Webnotebook breaks the mold for sure.
The one downside: Almost everything about this journal feels more stiff than the others listed here. While I’m glad the elastic closure leaves me confident in its ability to hold all its sh*t together, it also leaves tiny indents in the cover like it’s wearing too-tight jeans. I fervently believe that no one should be subjected to this feeling. The binding is also stiff and takes a bit of work to lie completely flat.
Size: 7” x 9”.
Line spacing: 8mm.
Number of pages: 176.
Paper quality: 100gsm.
Special Features: unique cover design, flap for loose notes, design along the edge of paper when closed, 100% recycled paper.
I love how lightweight and mobile this new line is! I’ve always been a fan of Paperblanks – the gorgeous covers and silky paper quality always call to me. One of the only downsides to them has been their weight. The hardcovers are just too heavy and cumbersome to be carried around day-to-day which, for busy writers on the go, is the key to actually being able to sneak some Short Time writing sessions in. The Flexis bring all the quality and beauty of the brand, while making it way more accessible. I love it!
And that paper though... this is fancy paper. This is paper you would be proud to bring home and introduce to your family for Thanksgiving. At 100gsm, it makes writing with a fountain pen just so yummy. Even yummier is that it’s 100% recycled -- what’s not to love?
Size: 4.5” x 6.9”
Line spacing: 7mm.
Number of pages: 240.
Paper Quality: 70gsm.
Special Features: elastic closure, ribbon marker, expandable pocket.
I have a hard time with Moleskine journals. I very regularly feel like they’re not worth the hype and yet they keep ending up in my hands at the stationery checkout counter.
They are the Starbucks of the journal world. We all know they are way overpriced for what they offer, but they’re readily available where most writers gather, and always give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you make the purchase.
The hardcover model is a great size for traveling but isn’t too small for bigger ideas. The elastic is secure, the paper quality is solid enough for a fountain pen, and the ribbon marker doesn’t fray. It’s solid and consistent and sometimes that’s all we need.
Size: 3.5” x 5.5”
Line spacing: 7mm.
Number of pages: 80
Paper Quality: 70gsm.
Special Features: last 16 sheets detachable, flap for loose notes
If the price of the classic Moleskine is still making you balk, I love these 3 pack cahiers. They’re only $12CAD for 3 and are perfect for on-the-go writing and drafts. My perfectionist self sometimes has trouble writing fresh ideas into journals that are too nice, as if my inadequate musings will somehow ruin the beauty of the journal. (You too?)
But with these, I find I am more than happy to jot down ideas, or drafts without as much pressure for it to be the best thing since season 4 of Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars.
You still get the paper quality and fun pocket in the back that we know and love from Moleskine, but without the pressure or the price tag! They also come in a bunch of colours which change seasonally so it can be fun to colour-code your projects.
Size: 6” x 8.5”.
Line spacing: Not available.
Number of Pages: 256.
Paper quality: Not available.
Special features: Faux suede and leather exterior, envelope style closure.
Meet Brittany. She’s beautiful, she’s trendy, and her hair smells like secrets. For the writer who likes nice things, this journal is absolutely beautiful. The mix of suede and leather feels great in your hand, and I personally always love an envelope closure. It makes me feel like I’m writing Top Secret things inside. If having a nice new journal will be your encouragement to write more, then Brittany might just be your new BFF.
That being said, the paper quality feels a touch lower than Moleskine but still is strong enough to use a fountain pen. (Brittany might just be a Canadian option, so you'll want to check out if she can be delivered to your location.)
I hope this catalogue of journal options will inspire you to head to a cafe, crack open a new notebook and try out some writing prompts.