15 Ways To Use Notebooks

14/05/2019 Lifestyle 18

15 Ways To Use Notebooks

I’m Laura, and I have a serious stationery addiction.

This is a condition that runs in my family – my Dad is obsessed with pens (seriously, he has boxes and boxes full of them, and my Mum gets annoyed because he always wants to buy more) – and it means I unfortunately cannot enter a shop where they sell any kind of stationery without buying something.

Hence the immense collection of notebooks I found rammed into every drawer of my desk when I was packing up to move back in December. Literally, they were everywhere, in every colour and style imaginable, and the worst thing is, half of them hadn’t even been written in!

So I had to have a think about how I was going to use all these notebooks, and thought I’d share my ideas here for anyone else with a pile of neglected notebooks in their drawer.

So here’s 15 ways to use notebooks:


One of the most obvious ways you could use a blank notebook is as a journal: a record of the things you’ve been doing on a daily basis. I’ve had stints of journalling throughout my life, but have unfortunately never been able to stick with it. But I know a lot of people like having that record, and it’s often said to be very beneficial at working through your own thoughts and feelings (I often feel like giving it another go!).

Bullet Journal.

Bullet journalling has become really popular in recent years, and I really love the idea of it! A bullet journal is basically a kind of planner that you set up entirely to your own liking, and can include things like to-do lists, goals and goal tracking, habit tracking, project planning etc. You can basically do whatever you want with it, and I’ve seen some truly gorgeous bullet journals on Pinterest!

I’ve been meaning to try bullet journalling for myself for quite some time, and I already have a notebook earmarked for it, along with a selection of colourful pens.

Morning Pages/Freewriting.

Another way you could use a blank notebook is to try and clear your mind, or find some inspiration when you’re struggling. ‘Morning pages’ is an idea from Julia Cameron’s famous book The Artist’s Way which involves writing three pages of writing every morning. You’re not allowed to think too much or stop, and it doesn’t have to be about anything in particular, you just have to write your three pages.

Similarly, freewriting is where you just sit and write with minimal thinking, and is a great way to just get into writing if you’re finding it hard to get started. It’s also a good way to work through specific things, such as if you were struggling to get into the mind of a character you’re writing in a bigger work, you could free write about them to try and get their voice down, or learn more about them.

Experimenting with writing prompts.

Another good exercise if you’re struggling for writing inspiration is writing prompts, and by hand in a notebook is probably the best way of experimenting with them. You can find loads of great writing prompts online and on Pinterest, so why not pick one and sit down with your notebook and see if it gets the creative juices flowing!

Ideas notebook.

If you have a small notebook that you can easily carry around with you, you could use it as an ideas notebook. I know if I think of an idea for a story or blog post and don’t write it down within ten minutes I’ll probably forget it. So making a note of them somewhere is essential.

Plus on days when you’re feeling uninspired you then have a notebook you can flick back through and easily find inspiration.

Plotting novels/stories etc.

When I’m working on a bigger project like a novel, I always plot it out by hand in a notebook. I find it much easier to look at my plan in a notebook rather than searching back through computer files looking for character profiles and my outline, and it’s a great way of using a notebook.

I find this especially useful when I’m writing fantasy with a lot of world-building, as I can essentially use my project notebook as a story-bible, where I write down all the rules of my world so I can keep things consistent as I’m writing.

Rough drafts.

Most people these days seem to automatically start writing on their computers rather than by hand, and for the most part, I’m right there with them. But occasionally when I’ve been struggling to get into a project I’ve decided to mix it up and start writing a rough draft by hand, and it can be so refreshing! Especially with short stories, this is a great way of getting a rough draft down quickly, plus you can automatically edit it as you go along when you type it up.


Another great way to use a notebook is for lists! It could be your basic shopping lists, to-do lists etc. Or you could even keep lists of things like TV shows you loved, books you want to read, etc., that you can keep on adding to as you go along.

If you’re a blogger you could then turn these into blog posts, because everyone loves a list post!


I have a beautiful, sparkly silver Paperchase notebook that I recently started using for recipes, and it’s been really useful!

When I cook I usually find recipes online, but my boyfriend and I are so picky we generally have to make adjustments to it, so that it doesn’t include things we don’t like. So if I make something that we like, I then write out the recipes with our adjustments into my recipe notebook so I can make it again and won’t forget how I did it. So far the highlights include a delicious Potato Curry Soup (sounds weird, but it’s yummy!) and my own version of a Chilli Con Carne (with all the veg blended up so I get the nutrients, but not the gross texture…I told you I was picky!).


Writing poetry isn’t for everyone, myself included, but sometimes I like to experiment with different things just for fun or when I’m struggling with other types of writing, just as a palette cleanser of sorts. A notebook is probably a much better place to experiment with poetry than a computer screen, so it’s definitely an interesting way to use up any blank old notebooks you have lying around.


You could also use a notebook to keep a log of your favourite quotes. If you keep it by you whilst you’re reading you could add to it as you find them, and then on days when you perhaps need a little inspiration or encouragement, you could flip back through your quotes notebook.

Book review notes/journal.

A great way book bloggers and readers can use notebooks is to keep notes about books they’re reading, or as a reading journal. I keep meaning to start a reading journal myself, as it would make writing my reviews much easier, and whilst my blog is my online record of my reading life, it would be nice to have a physical one!

Goal tracking.

If you don’t want the trouble of setting out a whole bullet journal, you could use a notebook simply for goal tracking. So, for example, if you’re a writer who wants to write so many words a day you could use a notebook to log your daily word count. Or if you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier you could write down what you’ve eaten that day and your weight progress etc.


If you’re working on a big project that requires a lot of research you could use a notebook to help you keep track of it.

Doodling/art journaling.

You could also use notebooks for a more artistic reason, and fill it full of doodles and/or art! Doodling is said to be therapeutic, and art journaling is a good way to experiment with different art styles and mediums, so if you have a spare notebook you could see if it works for you!

So do you have a lot of blank notebooks lying around? What do you use your notebooks for?

18 Responses to “15 Ways To Use Notebooks”

  1. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators

    I love the aesthetic of having a notebook collection, but I don’t tend to use notebooks very often. I tried bullet journaling a while back, but I’m a perfectionist, and I got frustrated when my spreads didn’t come out the way I planned and stopped using it. At this point I mainly use notebooks to take notes in class, and I focus on durability and practicality rather than aesthetic for that!

    • Laura

      I’m in the middle of trying to set up a bullet journal, and to be honest, I am finding it kind of frustrating. I see really nice spreads and things on Pinterest, but mine never come out quite how I want. I’m going to keep going though so I can give it a fair go.
      I’m very much into the aesthetics of notebook collections too, but I should probably start going for durability and practicality too, to be honest. I have loads of really pretty notebooks I’ve never used just because they aren’t that comfortable to write in, which kind of defeats the point of having it! πŸ™‚

  2. ShootingStarsMag

    I’ve had to weed out a lot of notebooks because I often get them as gifts and I just don’t use them as much. I used to journal all the time but not in years. I’d love to start a notebook of quotes – I used to have one. However, I do have an entertainment bullet journal where I keep track of monthly playlists, movies I saw, books I read, etc.


    • Laura

      I love your idea of an entertainment bullet journal! I’m in the middle of setting up a general bullet journal so I may include something like that in it too πŸ™‚
      And best of luck with your quote notebook. I think it’s nice just to have somewhere to keep a note when you read something that really resonates with you, or you just really like.

  3. Inge

    Great post! I have a very messy blog draft with the same idea, but I know I can always count on you to write exactly what I’m thinking. :o) I use one notebook daily for gratitude journalling, where each night I write down all the good things that happened. And then I’ll use a random notebook for everything that comes to mind when I’m trying to sleep.

    • Laura

      Haha, sorry! That usually happens to me, to be honest, where I have a blog post idea and then I see that someone else has posted pretty much the same thing. I’d love to see what ideas you have for using notebooks though! πŸ™‚
      I’ve always like the idea of gratitude journalling, but I’ve never tried it. Maybe I’ll give it a go! I like the idea of having a notebook to write things down from when you’re trying to sleep too, but I’m one of those annoying people who can fall asleep almost as soon as my head hits the pillow (or sitting on the sofa when I’m supposed to be watching a TV show…I’m just a very sleepy person!), so it probably wouldn’t get much use.

  4. Eileen Merwin

    I never thought of keeping different nb’S for different purposes, so plot lines get tangled up with budgets and doodles. Maybe that’s why I always toss them. Your approach is much saner. As of today, one for fiction, one for planner. Thanks for the post!

    • Laura

      To be honest, I think my method of having a different notebook for different things just came from the fact I love buying notebooks… It does help me keep stuff organised though, so I hope you find the method helpful! πŸ™‚

  5. Ashley

    I really love putting pen to paper and find all sorts of excuses to write and not type! There are some great ideas here -I keep meaning to give bullet journaling a go! xxx

    • Laura

      I really like the feeling of writing by hand too. It just makes a nice difference from always typing! I hope you enjoy bullet journalling! πŸ™‚

  6. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

    I don’t anymore, but I journaled for a long time. It definitely helped me sort out my thoughts and helped me learn more about myself, and on occasion it’s fun to look back and be reminded of good days I had or funny things that happened! I love the idea to use empty notebooks for freewriting or experimenting with prompts and other types of writing. I could never plan a novel in a journal though, I’m way too disorganized, I need to be able to move things around and crtl+f to find things lol.

    • Laura

      It is really nice to look back at old journals and remember things that happened that you might otherwise have forgotten.
      And I can definitely see why planning a novel in a notebook wouldn’t be everyone’s preference. It is kind of a pain when you want to add bits to your plan and have no room for it!

  7. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I use my notebooks mainly for to do lists. I do have a bujo but even that is mostly to do lists and travel plans. Basically just lists in every notebook I own lately. I do wish I wrote more, I used to enjoy writing and art so maybe I should employ notebooks for a little more creativity too.

    • Laura

      Keeping lists is definitely one of the best ways to use notebooks. I would be so disorganised otherwise! It is nice to use them for more creative things now and again though πŸ™‚

  8. Gayathri

    I attempted BuJo until I found I suck at both arts and sticking to a new habit. So I don’t even know where that notebook is currently. And Yes, I am obsessed about notebooks and color pencils.

    • Laura

      I’m pretty bad at both arty things and sticking to new habits too, so it probably doesn’t bode well for my own attempts at bullet journalling! I’m going to give it a go though πŸ™‚

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