Our Peek Inside… series takes a look inside people’s journals to celebrate their imagination and inspire others.
In this edition of Peek Inside… we are getting to know Susanne Heidenreich, a very creative math and science teacher, avid journaller and member of our #PeopleOfPaperblanks community. We came across Susanne when we asked our online community about their first-ever Paperblanks journal, and she shared with us that hers was a gift from her mother in November 2006. We always love to hear when a Paperblanks journal was a meaningful gift and we wanted to find out more about Susanne’s collection.
A little bit about me
My name is Susanne, and I live in the Northern Bavarian countryside. My passions are reading, cooking and baking, tea, travelling, fountain pens, notebooks and of course journaling. I work as a math and science teacher and my students usually ask me if something is wrong if my fingers don’t have at least one ink stain. I guess if you change ink colours often with a fountain pen, ink stains are unavoidable (if you know a way, please let me know!).
I share my home with two bunnies and two parakeets.
My very first Paperblanks journal
My Mom gifted me my first Paperblanks journal, a French Ornate Noir in Slim, with the exposed spine binding. I had just moved to Brighton, Sussex, UK to study physics with astrophysics at the University of Sussex and had built the habit of consistent journaling. I wrote exclusively in pencil, because I was afraid of ruining the pages with misspelled or wrong words. That’s my first advice, to anyone afraid to ruin a lovely notebook or a blank page: write with an erasable pen, so if you mess something up you can always redo it. It’s so simple.
You can see an example of an entry from 2007 in this picture. I still wrote very small in my notebook, not like my usual large handwriting, because it was so beautiful that I didn’t want to fill it too quickly. It still lasted me only 4 months. I didn’t know where to get another of those journals and I didn’t really know how many lovely designs existed, so I just wrote in one of the notebooks I had at home. I guess it’s always a weird moment, when moving on from one journal to the next. On the one hand you feel accomplished for having filled a journal and I even journaled about that on the last couple of pages in more than one journal, but on the other hand it is a sad moment, because your trusted companion is now moving into storage – for me that means a big bookcase in the attic, equipped with a date range and a number for identification. I also keep a file where I store some information about those journals, like their start date, their date of completion, important events, ideas discussed and such. It helps me tremendously when looking something up.
How my collection kept growing
I then discovered Paperblanks planners and I tried one in 2009. I thought it might be helpful as a graduate to have a calendar, but it turned out I didn’t use it as much as I would have liked, not because of the design or layout but I just don’t really use calendars in general. I set myself reminders on my phone, but a calendar doesn’t make a sound if an appointment comes up. I’m chronically time blind and I need those reminders or I am always late, so I unfortunately used it just as a really fancy to-do list.
I continued journaling through the years, I bought more and more Paperblanks journals, filled them with my thoughts and I even filled some with my washi tape samples. Then in late 2018, I was already on my 56th journal when I got two Paperblanks planners for Christmas. Some family members didn’t know that I had already found a planner since I discovered the Bullet Journal method by Ryder Carroll in 2016, but as the Paperblanks planners were a gift, I couldn’t just sell them. They were way too beautiful to not put them to good use. I even tried to use them the bullet journal way again, but it didn’t work out for me, and I still had a second one to fill. In the end I used them as regular journals and I really enjoyed them, as you can see in the pictures. Over the years I switched to fountain pens, but I still write occasionally in pencil, just because I like the sound. I have naturally large handwriting, so I use only every other line in lined journals, but that’s a blessing, as I write with mainly broad and wet nibs and sometimes the ink bleeds through the paper but if you use only every other line and alternate the starting line, that’s no issue at all. The bled-through ink then even serves as a non-distracting page decoration.
My 115th journal
Currently I’m filling my 115th journal, and I can’t believe there are that many. I have two full shelves stacked with Paperblanks notebooks – don’t judge me, I just like them! About half of them are completely full, about ten are partially filled, and the others are waiting to be filled. My family knows about my obsession with notebooks, and I even made them a spreadsheet so they know which ones I already have, so they can gift me a different design.
I don’t have a set preference for lined or unlined pages, it really depends on intended use and such. I would love to see dot grid in Midi or Slim notebooks as well. If you ask me what’s my favourite size, I would have a hard time deciding between Midi, Slim and Mini, and I definitely don’t like the Ultra and Micro sized ones. My used ones are dominated by the Mini size, but the Midi is a close second, but the unlined ones definitely rule my used notebook statistic.
What I look for in a journal
Now that you know about my journaling history, let’s dive in further. What makes a journal worth buying? Well, for me, I’m an aesthetic at heart, so it’s the cover first, then the paper, then the size, then the price, in that order. I don’t want to use a journal full of great paper at an even greater price if the cover is ugly. That’s how my brain is wired. Paperblanks journals definitely tick the cover box, and the paper is, as I’ve mentioned, not perfect for fountain pens, but not too bad either and if you use fine nibs, it’s probably even ink friendly. I don’t really own a fine nib to try, so the paper criterion is at least partially met as well. I haven’t had the chance to try the new sketch paper yet as I could only find it in Ultra size, but I know the paper from a letter pad and it’s amazing for fountain pens. The size, I absolutely love to take my journal everywhere, so portability is a main factor. Paperblanks offers three sizes fitting this criterion – Mini, Slim and Midi – so I guess that box is ticked as well. The price point is reasonable as well, so they are a win for me.
I mainly journal to order my thoughts, and I have multiple journals in use at any given time. One is my bullet journal for my to-do’s, my planning and quick notes, another one is to keep track of the currently inked fountain pens and which ink they are filled with, and another one is for my health stats. One journal is for my personal writing and I use various journals for my Instagram account, which is mostly about handwriting, fountain pens and inks. I even keep a journal for my tea.
If you want to start journaling, or just practice handwriting, use it as a planning tool, or … , my advice is to get a journal you really like, where you like the cover, because it’s really hard to build a habit if whenever you pick it up, you can’t enjoy looking at it. If you are worried about messing it up, decorate the first page with stickers, maybe even decorate some pages as well. These are milestones you can look forward to. Use a pencil or one of those erasable pens, they work great on Paperblanks paper and if you mess it up, you can erase it and rewrite it. Don’t be afraid to use pencils, they won’t fade, and if you think the regular pencil lead is too light for your liking, try a soft pencil, they look amazing on the ivory-coloured paper. You could even use different pencils for shading effects. Embrace the imperfections. If you don’t like your handwriting, work on it, I did this in fifth grade when my German teacher refused to mark my practice essay because it was illegible. I did never do those lettering drills, I just slowed down my writing speed and practised the letters with whatever I had to write anyway, and with time and practice I got faster again. I never rewrote my notes from class, I just adapted my speed with lots of practice. Find a pen that feels good in your hand, and hold the pen the way you have the most control over it. I prefer pens with a larger grip diameter, it’s easier for my hands. And my most treasured tip for neat handwriting, especially on unlined paper, is to rotate the paper. For me this means the notebook and the table make a 30° angle, or easier, they are aligned like thumb and index finger when your fingers are spread out. If I have my paper this way, I can draw a rather straight line without any additional tools.
If you would like to visit my Instagram and drop me a like, comment or message, it’s @girl_ink_and_tea
We are continuously looking for People of Paperblanks to feature on this series. Please send us an email if you have a project that you would like to be featured.