Choosing the Right Journal for You

Inspiration can strike at any moment, so you ought to keep some means of note-taking handy. Here are a few tried and true methods, and a few tools you may have overlooked.

The Moleskine: A journal made of collective memory (2/3 absinthe, 1/3 big game hunting). If your family has been wondering about you—is she? isn’t she?—just bring a Moleskine to the next reunion and scribble intensely beside the deli platter. You can describe their scandalized whispering.

The Black & White Mead: The Moleskine that proves you’re not trying to prove anything. Can also be used to teach phonics to ink blots.

The Spiral, The Faux Planner, The Legal Pad: Ideal for students or teachers. Maybe you’re taking notes on this wildly engaging administrative meeting (strategic nod). It certainly seems to be the case (tactical eyebrow).

The Recycled: Risk—People will think you’re preachy. Benefit—Less conversation, more time to write about trees. Benefit—Forest creatures have been known to approach and bless those using The Recycled.

The Dragon-Skin-Live-Eel-Bound: Risk—People will think you’re environmentally insensitive. Benefit—More time to write about dragon hunting. Benefit—Dragons and eels have been known to approach those using this notebook, lending “urgency” to the work.

The Military Grade All-Weather: Will resist your tears (as you struggle to communicate how a lamb resembles your first love).

The iFad: Text your epiphanies to a random contact, post them on facebook, or leave a comment on the first Youtube video you find, thus creating an electronic trail to your “penguin lodged in a waterslide” image.

Journal-less Methods: So you’re without journal, but not without hope. Time to MacGyver. Look around for diner placemats, napkins, pocket receipts, desk tops, your hand!, bathroom stalls, a passed-out forehead, grains of rice, a romance novel, rearview mirror and lipstick, etc.

Pen-less Methods: Well, this is really embarrassing. What kind of person are you? You don’t have a pen? pencil? crayon? tube of lipstick? No one will help you, obviously, because people who don’t carry writing utensils should be selected out by natural law. But we minnesota review editors are bleeding hearts, so here you go: Look for fogged windows, muddy cars, a sky-writing plane, a chisel and stele, snow or sand, a tattoo shop, wall ivy to espalier, uncut bushes for topiary letters, bored-looking people for sports-fan letters. If none of these possibilities present, see “how to scam a pen” below.

How to Scam a Pen

1. Dishevel hair. Tear blouse or jacket.

2. Rural or small town setting: Cry. Suburban setting: Cry mugging. Urban setting: Strip and be patient. Someone will call the police eventually.

3. Ask the Good Samaritan or responding officer for a pen. (Disclaimer: Pen will be useless until handcuffs are removed.)


Meaghan Russell was just startled by a boxelder that flipped from her poetry notebook, unfazed, and without comment. She wears boots.

Quinn White is a poetry student at Virginia Tech.


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