My 2020 Bullet Journal(s)

Everybody talks about the Leuchtturm1917 as the definitive home for our bullet journals, and they’ve been doing it for several years now. This is the journal used by Ryder Carroll, who first had the idea for rapid logging and many of the other methods that we now use for our bullet journals. Bloggists worldwide have sung its praises. I’ve seen it recommended more times than any other journal. People have sworn that it even accommodates watercolors.

And yet . . . and yet . . . last year, in my favorite pen group on Facebook, I began to hear whisperings and murmurings. “Everything you write will show through to the next page. Don’t use your fountain pen unless it’s very fine. Paper is much thinner now than it was.” And on and on. Last year I was head over heels in love with my Clairefontaine MyEssentials. This year they raised the prices so that it cost more than the Leuchtturm. What to do? What, indeed?

That very same fountain pen group is graced by a member who teaches English in an area of the country where the people are very poor. As a rule, there are no frills at home for most of his kids, and no frills at school. It’s a hard place. Yet his kids shine at creative writing. He hands out assignments. They read their stuff. Then the kids themselves vote on who did the best writing that week. He offers such prizes as he can out of his own pocket–shark pens and the like. He’s very retiring if you offer to contribute to his small fund for this stuff.

He ventured to write to the people who manufacture the Leuchtturm. He thought they might oblige by sending along a notebook that he could offer to one kid one week. The box, when he opened it, contained enough notebooks so that each kid could have one. It was a lot of notebooks. More than that, it was a box of inspiration for a group of kids who don’t get a lot of help and attention from the outside world.

So, here I am with my Leuchtturm1917 in basic black with dot grids. It’s nicely numbered, though there aren’t many index pages. And I have to say it does ghost. I am late setting my book up this year, so I haven’t been near it with a fountain pen. I have extra prep work to do because of the book launching. But after a few days, I do have a list of what works and what doesn’t:

What works

  • Tombow Dual Brush Pens in the “pastel” range–the very palest
  • Zebra Mildliners if you use an extremely light hand with the lightest shades
  • Pigma Micron black in the 003 size, the smallest they offer
  • Drafting pencil with 0.3mm lead

What doesn’t work

  • Staedtler Triplus Fineliners
  • Pigma Micron black in the 005 size
  • No. 2 pencils
  • Pitt artist pens in black, fine

So I’m turning into a minimalist in my journal whether I want to or not. I’m using thin “cahier” style notebooks in heavy paper as a separate journal for my collections, which I hope will be permanent. It’s worth it to me to show a little support for a very civic-minded company.

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