7 Essential Tools For Journaling and Hobonichi in 2021

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I’ve always been a fan of using a physical journal for writing. Whether I’m processing emotions, chronicling something that happened that day, or starting a new project, if I really want to connect with my thoughts, I’ll do so with a physical pen and paper. I’d like to move to electronic materials someday to be more environmentally friendly, but so far, I haven’t found the tool that can fulfill this purpose.

This year, in addition to my usual journal, I’m also trying hobonichi for the first time with the Hobonichi Techo Cousin 2021. I’m excited to have a legit reason to buy more fun stationery supplies! I bought some stickers and washi tape to get me started, and of course I’ll be using my long-time favorite pens and other supplies.

Here are the stationery supplies that I’ve been using and will continue to use for all my journaling needs in 2021.

Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pens

I’ve recommended these pens to a couple friends, and they’ve said that these Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pens are now their favorites! These are the only decorative pens I use for journaling, drawing, doodling, and all the fun things. Depending on the paper you’re using, they don’t bleed or ghost much, and as brush pens go, they’re great for beginners since the tips are not too soft or too stiff. They are available in lots of different colors, and last year they released a nice pastel set, too!

PILOT G2 Premium Rolling Ball Gel Pens

I like to write in my journal using different colored pens, and my favorite ones are these PILOT G2s. Different colors help break up the text and are a nice way to indicate a new topic or draw attention to something I might want to refer back to later.

These are great because of the color variety, and they are refillable rather than disposable. I had a hard time finding the refills, but good ol’ JetPens never fails to have all the stationery I need: Here is my list for the PILOT G2 0.7mm pen refills.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen Superfine Fineliner was recommended in an art journaling class I took a few years ago. I really like this pen for outlining, when I need to write on a surface that normal pens would smudge on (this one doesn’t), or if I have a smaller space to write in.

Pen and pencil cases

I actually received this Raymay Clam Pen Case from Maido in a Box: Vol. 6, and I’m so glad I did! I wouldn’t have bought this on my own because I don’t love any of the colors, but the functionality was so good that I kept it. This sturdy case fits all 24 of my Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pens plus the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen Superfine Fineliner, though not much else. It might have space one or two more pens, but I can’t fit anything in the little inner pocket, which would have been nice for washi tape or a white-out roller. I haven’t traveled with it, but the magnetic closure and structure feel quite secure, so I’m not worried about tossing it into a bag, even as full as it is.

I’m a huge fan of the Delde Pen Cases by Sun-Star because they can be sealed up for sideways storage or for travel, but when you’re ready, they also become the stand so you have easy access when you’re writing or drawing. The cherry blossom (sakura) one I have was a limited edition, so it’s no longer available, but they have a lot of other prints available.

This pen holder has smaller capacity than the Raymay. I have 17 of the PILOT G2s in there plus a mechanical pencil and an eraser tucked into the pocket on the inside. It is not big enough to also fit the set of metallic PILOT G2 pens though (I tried).

Dot-grid notebooks

I used to use lined journals exclusively, then in a Secret Santa exchange one fateful Christmas, a coworker gave me a blank journal — no lines. At first, I felt like it was a little too much freedom, but then I started feeling liberated by the blank pages. I started drawing and purposely writing crooked or sideways or upside-down. It was wonderful!

With the onset of bullet journaling, I tried using dot-grid notebooks and now they’re my favorite. They have enough structure if I want to write in straight lines or draw something symmetrical etc., but the dots are unobtrusive enough if I want to write or draw outside the box, so to speak. Scribbles That Matter is one of my favorite brands for notebooks, especially in the larger B5 size.

White-out tape

I couldn’t find the white-out tape that I use. I’m guessing because I’ve had it forever and they don’t make it anymore. But this is what I am planning to buy when I need a new one.

I don’t use white-out tape a lot because I’ve found that writing over it doesn’t work well and ends up bleeding and smudging. But I do like it for cleaning up drawings or touching up brush calligraphy where I might have a stray stroke or smudge that I’d like to cover to keep the drawing clean.

Closing thoughts

There you have it! All of my favorite supplies after I tried many different types of pens and storage solutions for stationery tools. Pens and other tools are such a personal choice and depend on your style and how you use your tools, so you might need to do a bit of trial and error before you find what you like the best.

Keep in mind that what’s popular may not necessarily be what you like. For example, when I first started brush calligraphy, I thought I would end up using these Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers because they are so highly rated and popular with brush calligraphers. But when I tried them, I ended up not liking them at all. I thought it was because I was a beginner, but even after I got more comfortable with brush calligraphy, I realized that I just didn’t like the super soft tip. The extra long pens are also a little more difficult for my small hands to maneuver. Thankfully, I discovered the Pentels and have been using them ever since.

The point is, don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun!

Teena Merlan