How to choose the right sketchbook

Sketchbooks and Journals are surprisingly personal things, our presences vary from one another and through season of our life. So how do we choose the right sketchbook or journal for ourselves?

I love this question because if you are anything like me it immediately says…go buy some more stationary!! Haha 😂 but just hold on a minute. I know I’m sorry, you can go and buy as much as you like after this but give me a moment to plant a seed that might give you some ideas.

Over the years I have had many different books both for drawing and journaling. There have been various requirements from me set on them, mainly for what I want to use them for and the place it needs to fit. For a long time my go to book was in fact an A5 blank page book from Lidl. It was fab, hard back, various designs, elastic to hold it shut and a pen loop. Whats not to love? The thing with Lidl is thy are not there all the time so I would be the crazy lady who got 5 at a time! It was worth it though. The stood up to all the battering from being in my bag all the time and when I didn’t like the covers I simply recovered them in something fun. Once it was a paper bag from the Highland soap company. The only downside was the paper didn’t handle much more than pencil or biro but for my out and about daily book it has been great.


I have found book size to be really important to me at various times. Depending on whats going on for me at the time affects the size of book I need. As you can see from my photo I still use a wide variety of sizes. Yes I am using all of these books (and maybe a few more) at the moment. I need flexibility! Although they do often have a general theme so that I can find the things I need in them. It’s important to recognise how they work for you.

Go Big

I tend to go big for drawing and painting. This book is for throwing thoughts and ideas at. It’s messy and quite unorganised but allows me to sort though stuff in a visual way. Now this huge book is in fact a book I picked up in a charity shop. I liked how it had the title ‘Inward journey’ and so as I use it I paint / stick / write over or work with whats already on the page. This is a great tip for choosing an inexpensive big book to work in. I do really love using old books as sketch books, there is a constant conversation going between you and the book. The downside with this is I have to prepare the pages and have space to leave it open to dry. So for this reason it doesn’t get used as often as I would like.

Hold it close

For actual journalling and writing thoughts and plans I go the opposite way, I love love love my A6 books. They are perfect to slip into my pocket when I go for a quiet walk and are great on my morning tray of Bible study notes and coffee in the morning. I find that if I have too much space to write ‘to do’s I fill it and get overwhelmed. So I go small and manageable. Remembering my limits and celebrating the wins. I have three different styles here.

A6 hardback Moleskin dot grid- I have always wanted a moleskin notebook, it was one of those dreams where you convince yourself it’s out of reach. I got this one for my birthday and in this gorgeous Red. I use this one for drawing mainly, lots of thoughts and ideas, it’s my little friend that helps me sort through ideas. Despite being what I felt was my dream book, i was actually disappointed that it cant handle a lot of my pens, you can often see them through even if it hasn’t bled though, but i used it a lot and work with it.

Small LEUCHTTURM1917 teal dot grid – apart from struggling to pronounce the book I ADORE it!!! It’s very slightly taller than A6 and the paper can handle my fountain pen which is a total joy!! I have a Kaweco Sport fountain pen I ordered from the amazing Nikki’s Supply store (watch out there are so many amazing things there). The pen writes like a dream and this pair really does give men such joy to use. This is my book I use for just writing, for planning and I have banned lists from this little fella giving me space to write ‘morning pages’ or just letters to my future self.

Moleskin A6 Soft back teal, dot grid – This little fella is my bullet journal friend. Filled with lists, trackers, plans and records of the day. The dots allow me an easy way to design each page without the restrictions of lines. I avoid lined books altogether ad I find too much restriction, the dots are just enough to keep me happy. The pages again do let some pen through so for this I use my mild liner brush pens, a zebra calligraphy pen and biro, then use stickers and tabs to jazz up what I need to. These have all come from Nikki Supply store from various peaks at her site with the promise not to buy, then ’just a little’, then ’oh I really want that one’ until you have lots of things. It’s addictive but they are always such amazing quality and Nikki does some great tutorials on her IGTV too. Well worth a peak.


Then there is a thing of complete joy!! I have recently had made by the amazing Indigo Artasians, a hand made leather bound mini notebook. It has Joy embroidered on the cover in a gorgeous teal colour on chocolate brown leather. This little treasure of mine has been made to record my adventures on Thunder my new bike and adventure companion. There will be a whole post about him and the plans coming soon, so I’m going to leave you in suspense with that for now. As for the book, the pages are thick and it feels like such amazing quality. It will be a complete joy to use. It I also available to buy your own if you would like a treat. I haven’t yet written in it, I’m enjoying having it here and cant wait to get started. Although I will admit to being nervous about writing in such a beautiful thing, I also very much believe things are to be used and so I will!

Journaling cards

Another way of journalling and getting creative is to use journaling cards. These are something I adore using. I have several different types I use. The top picture shows my Bible study cards – they are a huge pack that are joined together with a binder loop and I use bookmarks and paper clips to mark places. These are great for giving flexibility and as things change and develop I can add more to them. I have also made a set which will become a monthly event – JOYFULLY CREATIVE kit will have 3 double sided journal cards all designed to help encourage and develop creativity and finding joy everyday. The pack is quite special as it has a joy filled sticker (Ive stuck mine on my box there) and a surprise prompt scratch card to help inspire you for the month. As the months go on your collection can grow and then maybe you would like to join them together with a binder loop or ribbon whichever works best for you. I love the flexibility and being able to add different pages, even different paper in.

So what to choose?

My advice is don‘t put too much pressure on your decision, it’s ok to move around between sizes, its ok to op and change. If you are feeling particularly nervous start with something at the less expensive en of the scale so you aren’t afraid to write in it. Lose yourself a pen you love and grow you collection slowly.

In my new JOYFULLY CREATIVE kit I have included a vinyl ‘Joy filled’ cup sticker that you can put on any book you choose. So you can have a book filled with your adventures as you learn to find and create joy in everyday. Journaling, creating, writing and drawing are all so personal and although there is a lot of advice and tutorials out there, really you need to make it your own. That includes your book so play around until you find what fits you best.

This week I will be exploring books more on instagram and Facebook @thejoyfilledcup so do come and fin out more and Jon the conversation.

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