Why You Should Always Use Quality Journals

Journaling is more than just putting words on paper. It is more than a jumble of notes. It’s a record of your life. It’s progress of your dreams. It’s a journey of self-awareness and growth. It is a medium through which you understand otherwise incomprehensible patterns and emotions.

So a cheap notebook, with crappy pages isn’t going to cut it.

Does that mean you should spend a fortune on buying that perfect leather bound notebook? Well, only if you are loaded. But for the rest of us regular people, with regular income and expenses and pennies to watch, there are other affordable, quality solutions. You can get quality notebooks and journals for reasonable prices, and while I’m all-in support for physical bookshops and stationery shops, if you are watching the spend, you are likely to find them cheaper on Amazon.

3 Reasons Why You Should Use Quality Journals

Quality enforces the feeling of importance and specialness.

Using super cheap notebooks might make you feel that your life isn’t worth recording. On the other hand, extremely beautiful journals intimidates some people, as if they don’t want to ruin it with their ordinary thoughts.

It’s all subjective, but I recommend going for something that’s good quality and functional. It depends on what works for you. Leather bindings, classic moleskines, pretty designs it’s all fine. Quality is what’s important. Treat your journal as a valuable object, which is going to be a storage medium for your most private thoughts. Pick something that you would enjoy writing in, even look forward to it.

Acid free pages preserve better

You are going to keep your journals, possibly re-read them, and even make notes in them at a later date. If you are keeping your journals to leave behind, even after you die, as a legacy for your children, then it’s entirely possible that someone might be reading them decades after your death. Writing fades less quickly on acid free pages, and the pages don’t yellow as quickly as cheap paper either.

Good binding keeps it together

You may move house with these journals, maybe even move countries. At the very least, they are going to be knocking around the house. If you do re-read your journals, then you will be handling them quite a lot over the years. Good binding is like a human spine. Without it, the whole structure falls apart. Good quality journals, especially the ones that can lay flat, are the easiest to use and also survive better.


If you have already used journals, take a look at what you have. Are there any that you particularly liked? Consider if you like using the same kind of journal every time, or whether you prefer variety. If you’ve only ever used cheap journals, get a new quality one, and trial it out.


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42 Responses to “Why You Should Always Use Quality Journals”

  1. Natalie June 4, 2012 at 04:03 # Reply

    “stationary” shops? I imagine not many move, and some may actually sell stationery.

    • Dolly Garland June 4, 2012 at 14:05 # Reply


      Thanks for catching the misuse of word. I’ve corrected it now.

  2. Sam June 4, 2012 at 05:45 # Reply

    I’ve been successfully keeping a morning pages journal daily for the past 8+ years, and I prefer to write on inexpensive spiral bound Staples notebooks, 5 x 7-3/4, 80 sheets per book, 25 lines per page. Why? Because it fits perfectly with the slightly relaxed journaling style that I prefer. And they are all the same, so it is a consistent experience. They’re not acid free and will probably crumble into dust sometime in the next century, but I don’t really care. I have tried Moleskines and while they are a pleasure to write in, I find them a bit too intimidating. On the other hand, I write with a good fountain pen. Ballpoints curl the pages and rollerballs bleed through the paper.

    • Dolly Garland June 4, 2012 at 14:07 # Reply


      Morning pages for 8+ years is incredible. As long as journaling style works for you, that’s the key, and especially if you don’t care whether it’s preserved or not.

      I love moleskines, but yes, with fountain pens they don’t work well.

      Do you ever re-read your journals?

  3. Jane Robinson- Art Epicurean June 4, 2012 at 14:09 # Reply

    I love the look of my journals. I have decorated them with collage, fabric, inspiration, etc. The cover also tells a lot of my life and the contents. I do not use leather bound or spiral notebooks. They are hardbound journals from sationary stores. As you said – just writing in a beautiful journal helps me value the contents. Thanks for this post.

    • Dolly Garland June 4, 2012 at 14:59 # Reply


      Your journals sound awesome! Do you keep pictures of them anywhere? I would love to see them.

  4. Linda Jo Martin June 5, 2012 at 08:14 # Reply

    I agree, writing in a beautiful journal makes me think twice about the trail I’m leaving behind.

    • Dolly Garland June 6, 2012 at 02:12 # Reply


      I can totally relate to that, though beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder :-)

  5. Sarah | Holistic Hot Sauce June 5, 2012 at 22:00 # Reply

    It makes good sense to use a quality notebook for a journal to intend to look back on. I also used spiral notebooks for morning pages and freewrites – because the I knew that at times the writing would not make sense. However, I’m almost wishing I had gone for something a step or two up from that – because now I do sometimes want to look back on that writing. And it doesn’t help that the notebooks are falling apart and the ink bled through making the writing much harder to read. You never know where you’re writing might take you. It makes sense to honor it with a decent notebook.

    • Dolly Garland June 6, 2012 at 02:13 # Reply


      That was precisely my point. I also have some old journals where pages are falling apart because they were just cheap, poor quality ones. It’s so much nicer to browse through good quality pages.

    • Steve Urwin November 25, 2016 at 17:39 # Reply

      I use standard 80 gsm copier paper for morning pages. Until a few months ago I would make A4 hand-sewn blank morning page journals with just enough pages for each month. Lately though I’ve just left the pages loose leaf till I have time to double them up with masking tape to create A3 spreads ready for sewing. I use biro occasionally but don’t like it much and prefer gel pens. I have rsi in my wrists from years of excessive mountain bike trials in my thirties so I need comfortable writing action. I used to use Mitsubishi Uniball permanent ink gel pens can be pretty expensive and don’t last long if you write a lot each day. Tesco’s permanent gel ink retractable pens are less than a third of the price and work just as well. Blank morning pages allow me to write big or small, the number of lines per A4 sheet varies between 20 and 28 lines. This year I’m typing up my morning pages and aim to turn the edited highlights into a paperback book. For the last few years I’ve used a black vinyl covered A5 paperchase printed diary for my day to day scribbles, an Easynote A6 leather effect lined notebook for gratitude journal and a standard lined A5 hard cover notebook for work-log. On-the-move notes go in the simple fold-and-staple blank A5 notebooks of approx 28 – 40 pages that I make each week and get copied up into the relevant aforementioned volumes at home. I never let my best journals and notebooks leave the house for fear of damage or loss. I have been keeping journals since 1989 when I was influenced to do so by the work of Henry Rollins. I discovered the Kaizen Journaling site via Dolly’s article in the autumn 2016 issue of NAWE magazine and am enjoying it greatly. Cheers!

  6. Bobbi Emel June 5, 2012 at 22:44 # Reply

    I see what you’re saying, Dolly, but for me, I’ve always been more consistent about journaling when I just use what’s at hand. Somehow, when I get a nice journal, I feel more bound to do it and think deep thoughts than when I just put it on whatever is around me at the time I have the thought. Kind of strange considering that I usually like to be somewhat organized in my writing approaches, but that’s how it turns out for me!

    • Dolly Garland June 6, 2012 at 02:15 # Reply


      My solution to that is to always have my journal with me. Of course, journaling is personal so whatever works for you. But I’m curious – if you do use whatever’s handy, then does that mean that your journaling is in different notebooks, pages etc? How do you keep it together? Or are you just writing for its own sake, and have no intention of reading it again?

  7. Amit Amin June 6, 2012 at 01:12 # Reply

    Hm… I actually use my computer for my journaling. My computer it a literal bio-electric extension of my body. I can type 500 times faster than I can write. Is it bad that I don’t use paper and pencil, or is personal preference the important thing?

    • Dolly Garland June 6, 2012 at 02:17 # Reply


      I’d always intended to do this post E-journals vs. Paper journals, because that’s an eternal question for journal keepers. Your comment just moved it up the schedule :-) So I will do this post next.

      Short answer – personal preference is the important thing, so if you absolutely do not like hand-written stuff, and do not get enough out of it, but get a lot of satisfaction from e-journaling, then nothing wrong with that. Saying that, personally, I’m definitely an advocate for hand-written journaling, and I will detail this in the post, which should be up no later than Friday.

  8. Chantal Beaupre June 6, 2012 at 14:03 # Reply

    Dear Dolly,

    I especially love it when you say, “Quality enforces the feeling of importance and specialness.”

    A couple years ago, a personal growth speaker, here in Quebec, advised we do not settle for cheap bubble bath – yes, bubble bath! – but that we take the time to choose wisely and gift ourselves with a high quality product.

    The reason: “Quality enforces the feeling of importance and specialness.”

    Needless to say that’s one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned!

    Many blessings,


    • Dolly Garland June 7, 2012 at 22:47 # Reply


      While I wouldn’t have thought of bubble bath in the same context as journaling :) I can totally see the relevance. For anything that is personal to us, whether it’s for comfort, growth or pampering, quality does matter. It makes the thing worthwhile. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  9. Kaylee June 7, 2012 at 21:43 # Reply

    I can totally see your point – and I do love a beautiful journal. But personally, for my morning pages I just like to use a cheap one, because it’s just random thoughts. And my other journaling I do online, like Amit. There is something to be said for handwriting though – it just feels good. :)

    • Dolly Garland June 7, 2012 at 22:48 # Reply


      IMHO, random thoughts are what most of our brains are filled with, so they are important. But again, it depends on what you do with your morning pages. Do you just write them and never look at them again? I can see the logic behind using cheap pages for morning pages, because it’s a stream of consciousness thing, most people wouldn’t want to “Waste” a good journal on that. Morning pages are usually messy and disorganised, so it always feel more like a rough draft. Whenever I have kept them, I do it in my regular journal.

      Yup, handwriting does feel good :-)

  10. Lori Lynn Smith June 12, 2012 at 03:35 # Reply

    ohhh yes totally agree! I have my favourite red journal. It is a huge hunt to find the next new one.

    • Dolly Garland June 14, 2012 at 22:16 # Reply

      Having a few favourite brands now has taken care of that issue, otherwise I used to have tough time too, finding the next journal.

  11. Alison June 13, 2012 at 10:34 # Reply

    I researched long and hard to get the perfect journal, tried moleskine but the pages are too thin for me, wanted a Journal that would take fountain pen, wanted it A5, wanted it to be colourful because I love bright colours, in the end I settled for Leuchtturm (spelling??), I went for Pink and a limited edition skyline which fits in well with the time of year, Olympic games etc. I’m really loving journaling in it and I look forward to journalling, I know I can always get my hands on another one and if I want a change of colour there are plenty to choose from, I then have journals that I buy purely because they are pretty or have a meaning to me, these end up in a collection of (I can’t use) because they are just too special.

    • Dolly Garland June 14, 2012 at 22:20 # Reply


      Leuchtturm journals look good. I have never tried one. How do you find the pages? What kind of fountain pen do you use?

      • Alison September 27, 2012 at 21:00 # Reply

        They are really good quality, I used a Lamy Safari but didn’t get along with it, back to a gel pen until I can afford a better fountain pen :)

        • Dolly Garland September 27, 2012 at 21:24 # Reply

          Have you tried Parker? They come in different price ranges, and even the fairly cheaper ones (£9.99) I’ve found to be decent quality. Though I must admit, expensive fountain pens are just something totally different :-)

  12. Angee Robertson June 14, 2012 at 16:04 # Reply

    Hi Dolly,

    This is a really great article and I manufacture a journal. May I use this article on my blog, http://www.sheicjournals.com, giving you full credit of course.


    • Dolly Garland June 14, 2012 at 22:22 # Reply

      Hi Angee,

      Yes, absolutely you may use the article on your blog as long as it’s properly credited.

      I like the concept of sheicjournals. Cool idea.

      • Angee Robertson June 17, 2012 at 16:19 # Reply

        Thanks Dolly! I will give you full credit for it. It will publish on my blog on Wednesday.

  13. Blaze June 14, 2012 at 18:59 # Reply

    I love journals with recycled paper, they feel good under my hands. And I’ve also loved a journal with thick gold edged pages too. I guess I just love anything I can write on, including post-it notes!

    • Dolly Garland June 14, 2012 at 22:25 # Reply


      I love post-it notes! All colours and shapes. I might be using them tooooo much :)

  14. Stephanie September 7, 2012 at 01:39 # Reply

    I know I’m a couple of months behind, but I use a visual art diary.
    They’re acid free, the pages are thick enough for a fountain pen or those really inky fineline markers, and they have a metal spiral binding that makes it easy to fold over pages time and again. Also less than $5 for an A5 size.
    I don’t mind the blank pages. In fact I find it intriguing to watch the size and level-ness of my handwriting change according to mood and place.

    • Dolly Garland April 7, 2013 at 17:18 # Reply


      You make an interesting point about hand-writing. It does change depending on the circumstances of writing.

  15. Mimi Booth February 25, 2013 at 03:04 # Reply

    I’m new at this. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I have also been diagnosed with a complex partial seizure. My right hand tremors. I have horrible short term memory.Today is a great day. I grabbed a yellow legal pad and wrote about my day. I am not good at e journaling. I feel detached from my emotions. I have found old journals that’s unfinished over the years. They are interesting! Does anyone scribble on a pad or napkin and later transfer it to a journal? Or rather, do you edit and rewrite before transferring into a high quality journal? Sorry. My words and thoughts are getting jumbled.

    • Dolly Garland April 7, 2013 at 17:21 # Reply


      Apologies for delayed response. In my opinion, e-journaling is not the same. I know it works for some people, but I find that the act of actually writing by hand, contributes a lot to quality journaling.

      I don’t edit or re-write what I write in my journal, because the whole point of journaling for me is that it’s supposed to be free, heart-to-heart with the page. If I edit, re-write or censor then I lose the value of raw emotions.

      I do sometimes scribble things on a pad or a post-it if I don’t have my journal, and then write it down later.

  16. Shai February 27, 2015 at 05:26 # Reply

    Dolly, I completely agree with this view! When I first started I tried writing in spiral bound notebooks, but I wasn’t consistent and never completed an entire notebook. It never felt like a special, sacred space to me. For Valentine’s day three years ago I received a beautiful paperblanks journal, and I credit it with helping me to cultivate a more consistent journaling habit. I found I was more excited to record my thoughts in a higher quality book, and therefore I was more likely to write.

    Nowadays, I bind my own journals together. Bookbinding has, surprisingly, helped my journal writing develop even more. Being able to customize my book makes the journal not only special, but feel more intimate. And this feeling of intimacy helps me be more open and honest in my entries.

    • Dolly Garland March 15, 2015 at 02:04 # Reply


      That’s wonderful – customising your own books. I completely agree about Paperblanks…I love them. For those of us not into bookbinding, notebooks like paperblanks are a beautiful product.

      Yes, I personally do feel that quality is important, and that also it’s essential to feel that your notebook is special….because after all you are sharing your most intimate thoughts in there, it deserves a bit of specialness.

  17. Chinese Swords for sale April 21, 2016 at 03:27 # Reply

    Exp?dition et le produit rapidement comme d?crit. Great service.


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