I’ve always been a journal person. I’ve always written down story ideas, made notes and such, but I’ve never done it creatively before, or kept diaries or planners or even kept that crucial dream diary by the side of my bed.

I never quite grasped the possibility of journalling, of creating art-journals or anything like that. I thought my days were too monotonous for it.

Liz hugging penguins is boring!
Liz hugging penguins is boring!

I got up, I wrote, I had lunch, I wrote some more. I’d walk the dog and on weekends we’d do weekend things like shopping or going to the big country park and walking and talk about writing and reading and everyday stuff. We’d watch a movie or two, go to dinner or lunch with friends, nothing wildly exciting like base jumping or canoeing down rapids.

I looked at my life and saw colours of beige and found it uninspiring. It worried me, because I am not a dull person (or so I’d like to think) and I fretted about it. I needed to do something that wasn’t writing or the usual stuff I do every day. So I sat down and I thought about what I liked doing for me, for no one else. I allowed myself to be selfish and I realised, I can’t help it, I like writing. But I wanted to do something extra, something different with it. And no, I did not opt to do slam poetry (because people would pay me not to write poetry, that’s how bad I am at it!) but I did remember something and I went upstairs and went looking. And I found all my old notebooks and journals.

The pretty!
I went all nostalgic when I stumbled across this old journal of mine. Paperblanks do some amazing notebooks!


I rediscovered my Midori Traveler’s Notebook. I’d bought it back in January this year but I’ve not really used it or looked into what people did with them. I took it out, brought it downstairs and after reading the instructions, I put it together.


As you know, dear reader, I have always been a Moleskine girl. I have a great many of these notebooks (and a few other brands, but always returned to Moleskine) on my bookshelf upstairs in the spare bedroom. I used the Moleskines exclusively for writing. I’d have an IDEA notebook for each year. I’d write down well, story ideas, I’d get and if an idea warranted it, I’d transpose those ideas for a story into its own Moleskine journal. The story would get a name and LIVE in that notebook whilst I wrote it.  That’s how I’ve worked for say the past ten years and it worked okay.  But what bugged me about this was that I needed partitions in my notebook: I wanted a section for Characters / Setting / World Building / Plot / Names / General Thoughts etc., and I hated trying to divvy up my Moleskine into these partitions because it didn’t feel natural to do so because it doesn’t lend itself well to being partitioned. Not in my mind anyway. Especially if you outgrew the divvied up section for that subject then you’re stuck with a half-finished section and nowhere to go … *starts breathing heavily* No. Just no. I had to find something else that worked for me and a Pukka Subject Book just wouldn’t work, either.

So, here comes the Midori onto the stage. Not with a loud flourish or anything, he just kinda turned up and went ‘Hi, I’m kinda cool and you’re kinda cool and we should hang out because I can do stuff other notebooks can’t.’ And I was all: “Bro, I’ve heard it before!” And Midori was all: “Bish, listen to me. I have skills you haven’t even dreamed of!” And so I parked my doubts and I hit up websites and YouTube and I realised, slowly at first, that I was falling in love with the Midori Traveler’s Notebook as a journaling system that would work really well for me, creatively and well, sensibly?

Here’s what I discovered:

The Midori system is hugely flexible and can be used for a great many things. The set up / core Midori bit of kit you buy consists of:

The leather jacket with its elastics – you have a choice of three colours, brown (pictured), camel (it was a limited edition but demand was so great they made it a regular colour), and black.


The notebook itself / insert – when you buy the kit, your included insert is plain. But the inserts themselves, like other notebooks, come in plain paper, grid (squares), lined,  kraft paper or artist’s paper.

Everything in you first kit
Everything in you first kit

The leather jacket, if you will, looks beautiful the more you use it, especially on the brown.

My first Midori is a brown. It’s my everyday journal where I do Morning Pages and record thoughts and try out my hand at being creative and arty. Yes, I’m terrible at it but who cares, it’s for me to play around with and being able to make something using washi tape / inks / fountain pens and stamps is incredibly liberating. You’ll see it’s the one I most take photos of and put on Instagram. This one is crammed full of inserts, including a plastic wallet that houses postcards and bits of ephemera that are ideal for on the spot journaling in coffee shops! I love it utterly and it goes with me everywhere. It went all over France with us when we were on holiday a few weeks ago and I kept a dedicated notebook for everything that we did, and I included notes, receipts, stickers and photos too.


I can see you thinking: but what if your insert / notebook gets filled, what then? Well, the Traveler’s Company came up with a solution to that and you can store our filled up notebooks in a special folder. And the inserts themselves aren’t ruinously expensive, so you just swap out the old insert for a new one.


The one you won’t really see, and the one that prompted me to write this blogpost is my Blue Midori Traveler’s Notebook. The blue is a near-sold-out and very rare limited edition the Traveler’s Notebook company brought out a few years ago. I found a store in the Netherlands with a small cache of these and got one couriered to me via Mieneke visiting the UK, which was great.


The blue (the one on the left, pictured above) is really my workhorse for writing / working on the new novel.

I have 3 inserts in this one – the first insert is my general ideas insert for writing down thoughts and things on new stories or just random throwaway ideas I get whilst cooking or doing the dishes. I enjoy this notebook as it’s without any embellishments and it’s not for anyone to see and is for my eyes only.

The second insert is The Business: I’ve completed the new novel, the first draft at least, and what I’m currently doing is reading through it, intensively, chapter by chapter. In this notebook, as I’m reading I will make notes under my chapter headings (again, it’s ugly and not for anyone’s eyes except mine) about things to fix or watch out for. I make notes of repetitions or jarring bits that don’t flow properly.  It’s the overall big scheme of things edit that I’m using this for.  If there’s anything wrong or what I know I need to adjust, I make notes about it in this one.

The third insert is what I call the Story Bible. Here lives my map (so ugly even my agent laughed at it) and everything about my world I’ve created. Fantasy worlds, man, they really make you use your noggin. In this insert I have details about my CHARACTERS, who they are, what they’re doing in the story, their overall histories, basically.

I also have everything about the world in here as I know it THUS FAR, which is the important bit! I know the age it’s set in, the technology, the magic, the politics, the socio-economic classes, the religions, the everything basically. As I’m reading the draft through, I can add details down I’ve added in the novel but it’s not in my bible or I can take it out in the draft if it jars with what I’ve already got down in my journal. A very handy thing, this.  In this notebook, working from the back, I have a Randomly Met Character List of characters my characters run into. I write down their name, where they met them, why they met them (to give it context) and it’s also a handy way to log what names I’ve used. Otherwise everyone my characters meet will be called Gekoski or Rachel or whatever.

The view from the top.
The view from the top.


And this is what I like about my Midori Traveler’s Notebooks – the fact that I can curate the inserts, what each one would ‘do’ i.e. if I want to include my bullet journal insert, my daily writing journal and my art journal within one cover, I can. I’ve found that 3 inserts work well for me within one cover as it doesn’t make it too bulky and there’s space to add a dashboard or a set of plastic folder for cards and things, which is ideal for receipts and business cards.

My blue with its 3 inserts and its pretty dashboard is great. I look at it and I know that everything contained in that little set up is the best it can be and it will help my current writing project become the best it can be, in turn. I still love my Moleskines but I’ve not written in a single Moleskine since around May this year, which, if you know me, is a revelation.

Working on edits in the sun, Summer 2016.


There are a great many videos about the Midori Traveler’s Notebooks, how people set them up, what they use them for, and I sort of became addicted to watching as many as I could. The one thing it did teach me really well was how to cram the most inserts in using only a few elastics!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my walk-through of the notebooks and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I talk about the overall awesomeness of the MTN!

2 thoughts on “An existing interest: exploded

  1. I’ve really enjoyed seeing your journaling journey play out via instagram. It’s nice to read the backstory of how you got there.

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