Make Your Paper Notebooks Useful: Create a Hub Journal

A hearty thank you to Loura for allowing the Analog Office to share this photo of her marvelous journal!

One of Loura’s resolutions for 2023 was to use her journal, daily.

SO many things I love about this journal. Loura is using this as a hub for all kinds of thoughts and ideas. All kinds of thinking on paper is happening here!

She’s using it as a commonplace book, to collect quotes that resonate for her.

She’s using it to draw in the margins, a time-honored way to annotate one’s texts.

She’s using it as a journal, to process her thoughts and feelings about daily events in her life.

She’s using it as reading notes, to process her thoughts and feelings about things she has read.

She’s using it as a writer’s notebook, writing down her wonderings about grief and love. (Two things I suspect we all wonder about, at some point…)

She’s using it as a design notebook: incorporating space, lines, illustrations, lettering variants, and color to help the eye, and the mind, navigate the page.

Let’s just sit back and savor this for a moment:

journal page spread with

Let’s also think about some cool options you can try out, by keeping a journal like this.

But first! I want to say, all by itself, if she does nothing else with it — if she doesn’t even write another word in it — this journal will bring joy and all kinds of memories to her, many years from now.

It is a treasure, complete to itself, just as it is. She need do nothing more with it; it is a joy to see and to read, and in this tech-saturated world, her personhood, her life, shines forth from this. A treasure: just as it is.

Her journal here is also something I know — from being lucky enough to have inherited some writings from my own antecedents — could be appreciated by generations to come.

That being said: I’m calling it a “hub” because you can spin a book like this out — if you wished to — into all kinds of things.

  • You could keep a multi-purpose notebook like this as a kind of capture notebook and move actionable things into your productivity system.
  • You could spin off a dedicated commonplace book or zettelkasten system from this.
  • You could write longer essays or blog posts (or letters… or books…) from thoughts and quotes recorded here.
  • You could start “Thoughts On…” files for yourself recording the life wisdom you earn, to remind yourself of what works to keep your life humming along, and what does not (as Sivers points out, we do forget how things actually make us feel; in the moment and in the immediate aftermath)
  • You could test design layouts here that move into publications.

Maybe I’ll work on improving my handwriting again…!

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Tip o’ the Fountain Pen

To Loura, who posted another cool journal page spread right here. (Accessed: 13 February 2023)


‘Medieval Monks Wrote in Their Books and So Can You – Another Word’ (2018), 12 November. Available at: (Accessed: 7 February 2023).

‘How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book”’ (2013) Thought Catalog, 28 August. Available at: (Accessed: 7 February 2023).

‘Reading’ (no date) annie mueller. Available at: (Accessed: 7 February 2023).

‘Making and Using a Writer’s Notebook,’ North Dakota State University (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 7 February 2023)

Benefits of a daily diary and topic journals | Derek Sivers (2019), 28 January. Available at: (Accessed: 7 February 2023).

Department of Shameless Self-Promotion: I wrote about journaling as a tool for action at my other blog,

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