Once I discovered that there were paper products better suited to my writing habits beyond what a composition book from my local drugstore could provide, I ended up dedicating a good deal of time and energy trying to find what would be my ULTIMATE journal. The one that I would buy by the truckload so I would have enough of it on hand no matter what.
Trying about a billion (ok, maybe not that many) different products, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have two distinct needs to be served. For note taking, I prefer a spiral A5 sized book like the smaller Rhodia Meeting Book. I do not have a suitable flat writing surface in my house so I always use a spiral notebook folded back on itself balanced on my knee. I specifically like the width of the A5 size (5.83 “) for this purpose.
For journaling, my number one preference is a hard bound book which again, I use propped on my knee. Sometimes I even write with the spine balanced in my hand while standing. In either case, an A5 book is too wide. I need something a little thinner, like in the 5.25” range which is easier to balance. When you aren’t writing on a flat surface, a book that opens flat is much easier to write in. (If you aren’t at a desk or table, you don’t have the leverage to force the pages as flat as they can go.)
I prefer off-white blank pages as white is too much of a strain on my eyes for extended writing sessions, and blank because I love to doodle in my journal. Lines in a journal make me feel like I’m back in high school doodling on 3 ring notebook paper. The paper MUST be compatible with waterbased fountain pen ink and super wet gel pen inks. Bleeding & feathering is unacceptable.
I like the covers to be solid colors like black, red or purple, and I prefer the cover material to not be too slippery that I can’t easily grab it from my bag. Ribbon bookmarks are helpful, but they have to be long enough and made from a material that resists fraying on the ends. (As that is unsightly.) I like the book to have some method of securing it shut – but that method should in no way interfere with how the book functions. (It should not get in the way.)
I appreciate a journal with rounded corners to the pages and the cover because when you get to the end of a page that has squared edges, the corner digs into the palm of my hand.
Having said all that, I want to hear what constitutes your ULTIMATE journal.