Hello Hello! How are you?
I’m back with something a bit different today! Before I started my blog I decided that one of the things I really wanted to add to it was bullet journaling posts! I tried bullet journaling a few years ago but gave up, and last year I started again, this time aimed at books only, and I totally fell in love.
I think that one of the reasons why bullet journaling didn’t work for me the first time was because there was SO MUCH information about what bullet journaling is, the supplies, the different spreads, inspiration, and a myriad of other things that totally dragged me in, but didn’t really help me out when I was lacking inspiration and motivation! I probably don’t update my bullet journal as fast and as often as I would like, but I find myself reaching for it all the time, whereas my first one was just gathering dust on my shelves.
In this series, I’m going to aim at giving you the basic information and advice you need to start your bullet journaling journey, or even find some new inspiration that you were maybe lacking. I spent so long researching, reading blog posts, looking at Pinterest photos before I actually went for it, and I realise now that I probably didn’t need all that. I purchased so many supplies the first time around, and now that I bullet journal regularly, I don’t use half of it, but keep going back to my favourites!
Thinking about starting a bullet journal?
One of the things that stopped me from starting a bullet journal straight away a few years back when it became a trend was the fear of wasting my time or my money. Yes, bullet journaling takes up a bit of time, and you do have to spend a bit of money at the start, but in the grand scheme of things, when you get used to your technique and find your passion and your way to do it, you won’t even see the time fly by!
The first bullet journal I had was a basic one for everything, and I think that was maybe where I went wrong, for me personally. Bullet journaling is unique for everyone, you may want to have a solely bookish one, like me, or you may want an artsy one, a professional one, a private one, a cookery one, the list goes on. But as long as you find what works best for you, you’ll be rolling in no time!
The second thing that terrified me when I was researching about bullet journaling was what it all meant, and to make it as simple as possible, a bullet journal is a notebook in which you keep track of things you want to do, things you are doing, things to remember, etc. I like to think of each page or “spread” as it’s own little notebook, where I keep everything about one single thing in the same place, for instance, I have loads of spreads in my own bullet journal (affectionately called Edward), but they are all separate and for one thing (bookish goals, monthly TBRs, calendars, lists, etc). What makes a bullet journal different from any other scrap of paper or book where you take notes is that everything is not mixed on the same page, each thing has its own place, and that makes it so much easier to keep track and not lose anything!
What you have to remember about bullet journaling if you are thinking about starting one, is that it will be yours, unique to you, and when you put your mind to it, it is so EASY. All of the information you can find online makes it sound incredibly hard, but at the end of the day, once you get the hang of it, it’s a pleasure to do!
What do you need to get started?
If you are still unsure about jumping on to the bullet journaling wagon, maybe this will help you: the ONLY thing you need is a notebook and a pen, that is it! Of course, a lot of people who bullet journal have a huge number of different supplies, and you may add to your stash once you get used to it, but the easiest way to start out is by not overwhelming yourself with a million different pens, stickers, rulers, etc.
Before I got started with my first one, my mum and myself bought loads and loads of different things I thought we “needed” and that I found online, we set it all out on an enormous table in front of us and then we just sat there, looking into the void. But when I started bullet journaling again last year, I just had a few ideas I had screenshotted from Pinterest to give me some direction, a notebook, a ruler and a few pens, and I was away in no time.
You can buy any type of notebook you want to bullet journal in, if you want a cheap one, go buy a cheap one, if you want an expensive one, go buy an expensive one, you do you and don’t worry about people telling you that you “neeeeed” a Leuchtturm 1917 to bullet journal, or any other really fancy/popular one, because you don’t! You can bullet journal with anything you want, any size of notebook and any brand, the actual notebook doesn’t really matter, it’s what you’ll put into it.
I started out with a Leuchtturm 1917 because I thought it was the only one suitable, but I actually ended up not really liking it, and I think that was part of the reason why I didn’t continue in it. Yes, they are nice, pretty, but they are expensive and I do regret having bought it and then only used about 20 pages. Some people swear by Leuchtturm, but I would recommend you starting with just a simple notebook so that you can see how things go for you, before forking out for an expensive one that will get forgotten.
Last year, when I started bullet journaling again, I just found a notebook that I had received in a stationary set and I’ve nearly completely filled it. It has all my 2019 bookish stuff, but also a lot of very long trackers for book series and tv shows that I don’t want to move into my new one, so now I keep it as a “collection” bullet journal, so I can keep up to date with series, but not get overwhelmed by having to do it all over again!
Because I knew that I really wanted to bullet journal “seriously” in 2020, I went ahead and purchased a Dingbats A5+ Wildlife notebook and I absolutely LOVE IT. Obviously, the main selling point was the little debossed elephant on the front (it’s my favourite animal), but I found that it had a lot of good reviews and the paper quality of 100gsm really sold it to me. I believe that the Leuchtturm 1917 only have an 80gsm paper quality/weight and that was one of my main problems, everything bled through, I could see what I wrote on the back of the paper and it just didn’t feel very good. But little Edward’s paper feels thick and it feels like quality! Also, for those of you out there who are screaming at me because its a leather cover, don’t worry, it’s hand-made, eco-friendly, recyclable, degradable and vegan!
Another thing to take into account is what type of paper you want, do you want lines, dots, grids, blank paper? You can go for whatever you like the best and you can change it up if you’re not enjoying it, but you mustn’t feel the need to buy a dotted-paper notebook because that’s what the majority of people use. I started with dotted because I thought it was the thing to do, and although I like using dotted and will probably always use dotted, two years ago, it didn’t seem like I had much of an option and it took a lot of time to get used to it.
I already said that you just needed a notebook and a pen, but I want to go a bit more in-depth about some other supplies that you might like to use (photos of products are not my own).
The main things that I always pick out of my pencil case when I’m working on my bullet journal are my pencil, my rubber, my ruler and my set of Pigma Micron pens. By no means do you need to buy these pens, this make, the different nib sizes, but I find that since I’ve gotten used to bullet journaling, I do like to use different sized pens to spice up the spreads a bit. But please, don’t feel like you have to buy any of these things because any colour pen and any type of pen works just as well, just do what feels comfortable for you!
I just would like to point out some other pens and supplies that I find really useful, but only use occasionally. You don’t need to buy any of these to make nice spreads, I just like these because out of all the supplies I have used since I started this journey, these are the ones that went into my pencil case when I was packing for my Erasmus trip, they are my GO TO and you’ll see why!
A pair of scissors: I suppose this one is obvious, but because I’m not brilliant at drawing, a lot of the time I just print pictures and stick them into my bullet journal, it saves me a lot of time and stress!
Double-sided tape: Now, you may roll your eyes and wonder why I don’t just use glue, BUT, although I’m an organised person, when I’m “trying” to be artsy, I get stuff ALL OVER ME, and when I try to glue something into my book, I end up with sticky stuff everywhere, so I resorted to double-sided tape this year and I’m never going to use glue again, this stuff is awesome! I haven’t found those automatic dispensers for double-sided tape yet, but I’m sure one day I’ll stumble upon them until then I’ll just cut it off the roll! You could just use normal tape as well, but personally, it stresses me out if I can see the tape on the page!
A pencil sharpener: I don’t really like to use many felt tips in my bullet journal because I’m still traumatised from the way they bled through in the Leuchtturm, but I do use quite a lot of coloured pencils, and somehow I always manage to break the tips clean off, so a pencil sharpener is a must!
Bulldog clips: I don’t use these as much as I did last year when I started bullet journaling again, for the simple fact that Edward actually lays nearly perfectly flat (a bullet journaler’s dream!), but if you have a notebook that doesn’t lay flat, bulldog clips are very useful for keeping the page open and flat!
Unipin Fine Line pens: I use both the 0.2 and Brush sizes of these pens and I adore them! I haven’t learned how to calligraphy properly with brush pens yet, and frankly, it’s a bit of a faff, so instead, I fake calligraphy! I write out what I want with any size of my Pigma Micron pens and then for every downstroke on every letter, I go over it with the brush pen and it works perfectly! I use the 0.2 sized nib pen for actually writing things in that aren’t titles, I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s my everything pen, its a really nice dark black and it doesn’t smudge!
Uniball Signo 207 0.7 in Blue Black: When I’m not using my black Unipin 0.2 or any of the other coloured pens I’ll tell you about further on, this is the gel pen that I use to write things in with! I don’t really like using blue pens in my bullet journal because blue means school and lessons for me, but I like this one because the blue is very dark and it only just stands out as different, so it’s a nice change when I don’t want stark black everywhere!
Tipp-Ex Mouse: please don’t laugh, I don’t know what these are called, but it’s the sticky mouse reel version of the actual liquid white-out stuff you use over errors (if you know what I mean)! I don’t like using the liquid version because I’m never patient enough to wait for it to dry, so I use the mouse version instead when I make some mistakes and it’s really useful when you inevitably mess up something in your bullet journal! I don’t use this actual make because they all seem the same as me, so feel free to buy whichever you prefer!
Faber Castel PITT Artist Pen in Cold Grey III 232***: Sorry for all the long names, but this is one of the other “colour” pens that I use for titles quite a lot. It’s really useful to create “drop-shadows” and it’s a really nice addition to any spread where you don’t want colour, but don’t want it to stay black! It does have a brush nib, but it’s really easy to use, as are all the other colours of this same make, I just really like this one the most!
Zebra Midliners: I bought the whole set of these about 4 years ago and I still use them today, they have a really long life, and I love the colour range! What I like the most about these is that they are double-sided, on one end there is a thick “highlighter” type of nib and on the other more of a felt tip pen type of nib. I mostly use these for my colour coding on my calendars and monthly spreads, but they are also great for titles!
Washi tape: By no means do you need any washi tape, and believe me when I tell you that you will become addicted, but it’s always a nice little touch to add to a spread to make it a bit extra! The first washi tapes I got were from Amazon, in a set of about 20 different motifs for about 5 euros if I remember correctly, so you don’t have to run to your local art shop and fork out 5 euros/pounds/dollars for a single roll, shop around, look at different models and pick a few you like to start with if washi tape is something you feel like you want to add! When I left for Scotland in January, I forced myself to pick my 12 favourites, one for every month and I think that’s all I actually need, instead of the hundreds of rolls I have at home!
Stickers: I also sometimes use stickers, some I get from Wish, but recently my mum bought me a sticker book with flowers, cute little animals, banners, the days of the week, stars, hearts, etc, and I’m really enjoying using the different stickers included
Arteza Fineliner 0.4 Pens: When we started off on the bullet journaling bandwagon, we purchased this set off Amazon and it hasn’t let me down. I used to use the Stabilo pens that are basically the same, but I find that these nibs are easier to work with and they have a better colour range, don’t run out as soon and are just generally better quality. I have loads of different coloured pens like these at home, from a range of brands, different types of nibs and ink, but I think these are my favourites, they are thin and add a nice touch of colour!
Tombow Dual Brush Pens: This is another thing that you don’t NEED, and I still haven’t worked out how to use them properly yet, but what I really like about these is the actual brush nib because if I have quite a lot of page to colour-in in a certain colour, for example, a title header or box, it just takes one swipe and it’s done, and it doesn’t leave those weird marks a normal felt tip pen would! These ones are a bit on the expensive side, and you don’t need to buy them, especially if you are not going down the calligraphy route, but if you do decide on a brush tip set of pens, I would really recommend these!
Pencils: I use coloured pencils a lot in my bullet journal and one thing I HATE is the BIC colouring pencils, I don’t understand why they are waxy and rubbery, so I try to stay away from those as much as I can even though I have a couple in my pencil case! My favourite pencils are the Giotto Stilnovo pencils by Fila because they are more of a dry “consistency” and are easy to rub out if you mess up!
Phewww that was a long one! I know that this seems like a lot but remember, you DON’T NEED any of this whatsoever, you can pick one of these types of pens/supplies, or you don’t have to pick any. You don’t have to have and use washi tape, stickers, pencils, pens, etc. You just have to remember that you have to be comfortable with your supplies, find your favourite pen and notebook and roll with it, as long as you do you and you have fun, then bullet journaling should be a blast!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post, see you soon and keep your eyes peeled for my next post in my Bullet Journaling series!