Daydreaming on Paper
January 2019
New Year, Same Trusty Day Planner

Once I find or, more likely, make something I like, I tend to stick with it. My day planner is no exception. I've been using the same basic setup - a ring binder with looseleaf pages - for about 14 years now. I've used Day-timer or Vera Bradley refill pages and printed pages from Microsoft Outlook, but in 2011, I finally designed my own simple template pages and have been using those ever since. In design and in function, they are exactly what I want; all I do is maybe change the paper each year.

This year, I am using luscious, luxurious paper from Dempsey & Carroll that is an absolute joy to write on. Apparently, however, it is a bit too luscious. When I took my master planner template to be copied onto this paper for this year's planner pages, the paper kept jamming in the machines after every few copies. I waited an excruciatingly lengthy period of time for the copiers to eke out about six months' worth of pages, then decided enough was enough. I'd draw the remaining pages by hand if I had to. And that, dear reader, is exactly what I did.

I already have a long history of making things literally by hand, so the idea of drawing planner pages did not seem too crazy to me. When I thought about it, it actually had several benefits. It would give me yet another opportunity to use my fountain and dip pens, inks, and papers, and I could get in some calligraphy practice as well. (I've dabbled in calligraphy since I was in junior high school but, just as with most of my other interests, regular practice is not my strong suit.) Plus, not only would I not have to leave the house to create my pages, but I could do it in bed. WIN!

After a bit of trial and error to determine the best pens and inks for the job, I got down to work, and it did not take long before I had six more months of planner pages satisfactorily done. The entire process was pleasant and relaxing - I zoned out often when lettering the pages, which gave me many opportunities to find creative ways to fix mistakes. All in all, I am pleased with how my first completely hand-done pages* have turned out, and I think that I will probably do it this way from now on.

Here's my basic process:

  1. I drew the two-page-per-week template with a fine italic nib in my Sheaffer calligraphy pen and Noodler's ink in Borealis Black using my master template as a guide.
  2. I then drew pencil lines for all of the lettering.
  3. I lettered the days of the week using a Speedball C-5 nib and FW acrylic artists' ink in Black (028).
  4. I cut the planner pages, rounded the corners, and punched holes in them.
  5. I then went back and lettered the months and dates using a Speedball C-4 nib and the same FW black ink.
  6. Finally, my pages were done and ready to use! I erased the pencil lines and entered birthdays and other info.

Plain purple plastic three-ring binder that I bought several years ago at a thrift store

cover page insert
My personal philosophy lettered onto a piece of plastic salvaged from a report cover

Reference calendar; I keep a couple of years' worth in the front of the notebook. Very useful for planning.

photocopied pages
Photocopied pages using the master template

handdrawn pages
Hand-drawn and lettered pages

I used to create elaborate themes for decorating each year's planner pages and to fill each page with drawings, stamped images, stickers, etc. These days, however, I prefer a minimalist look. I've taken everything out of the binder except for the pages and dividers, which I make from cardstock and a round tab punch that I picked up secondhand for pennies. I still use stamps, etc. on the planner pages sometimes, but much more sparingly. Right now, I'm all about the elegant beauty of simple handwriting or calligraphy and vibrant inks. And I continue to enjoy using this modest and unassuming organizing tool to power me through each day. Its imperfect, handmade aesthetic is the icing on the cake.

Page marker made of scraps of wire and beads

I use a modified version of the Getting Things Done method; these are my simple task/next action pages

Divider tabs

*My custom template included the days of the week, but I still hand-lettered the months and dates.


Happy Scribbling!


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