June 25, 2016

Outdoor Community Question ~ Blogging and a Journal By Hand?

Moleskin for Outdoor Journaling

Moleskine Sketchbook for one Commenter

I’ve always kept a handwritten journal.

I started with a diary that had a heart shaped locking clasp that my brother delighted in stealing and breaking into. After I’d pummel him, I’d of course record the horror of my experience.

After time my diary evolved into a journal and I’ve always maintained one.

Once online ‘journaling’ surfaced, it was an easy leap for me. In my opinion, online blogging is the electronic and public version of keeping a journal…without the heart shaped lock. (or need to pummel anyone)

Which brings me to my Outdoor Community Question….

Did you maintain a journal of sorts before you started blogging
or is blogging your first experience in keeping a journal? 

And following in on that question, if you do still maintain a handwritten journal, what type do you use? I’m always on the lookout for the best Outdoor friendly journals…

Currently, my all time favorite journal is the Moleskine Sketchbook LargeIt’s a hardy journal that can withstand my Outdoor Lifestyle.

Bonus: For this community question, I’m going to send one commentor a Moleskin notebook to try out. I’ll have the RNG pick one winner from the comments and I’ll post the result in the OBN Friday Notes. Good luck!

About Rebecca

When Rebecca isn't running the Outdoor Blogger Network, she is off Fly Fishing her favorite rivers. Occasionally she writes about those adventures at The Outdooress.


  1. 1

    I have not one but two journals in front of my as I type. Oddly I don’t really use them for blog notes but to write to myself. They started out as a simple list of notes on the deer I took, when, where, with what. Then I added fish and other critters, too. Now I make short entries to remind myself in the future of that day. I started these before I started blogging and I keep them up because of the tradition of outdoors people doing the same since we have been outdoors.

    Computers are nice and have their place but many times the look and feel of that journal brings on memories that a keyboard and electrons simply can’t.

    • 2

      Agreed about the look and feel of a journal. Plus, like you, I can go back to season of my past and see how the fish were biting, what fly worked when or where and it’s a great way to store my memories.

  2. 3

    Yes, I did keep a handwritten journal and still do. The handwritten one also contains sketches in pencil and watercolour and is written in a different style. I also write rough notes when out which are then used to update both my journal and blog.

  3. 4

    Yes, I have a journal, actually two, but use them more as a writer’s notebook than a consistently maintained diary. The smaller journal, the one that travels with me, is the small version of your Moleskin. The larger, that sits beside me at my desk, is a Markings by C.R. Gibson.

    Most of my blogged essays begin as a series of notes, phrases, and concepts gathered in the pages of these books. There’s something about pen and paper that nurtures the creative process.

  4. 5

    I’ve always kept one of those college type black composition books. When I started bowhunting, I kept notes in there as well as drawings as to where my rest markings were, length from cam to peep site, etc in case something went haywire on a trip. I refer back to older ones occassionally. For instance, on my bison hunt I kept everything from gas receipts to google maps I printed prior to driving the 2300 miles to my destination. Currently I work out of two composition books. One is for hunting notes, the other for BowAmerica (who is writing what and when, companies contacted, layout of stories, etc). If my writing was…prettier…I would be happy to throw some money at a good journal. Did that once but became disgusted as my writing was not as neat as my journal and I felt like I was ‘letting the journal down’. Oh well! I still like to write rather than type. (Although, I can pump out these keys pretty fast now compared to when I was in school. I was taught how to type on a manual typewriter and my class was the first one in our county to have access to a computer)

  5. 6

    I have kept a journal for decades and have several varieties that are specific in nature. I have kept a personal journal since I was a very young girl with all the trials and tribulations that come along with growing up. Then I have another that is perhaps my most cherished and favorite because it is all about waterfowl hunting in some of the best decades of my life and unfortunately the company no longer exists. I am almost through my second of those and I have a third waiting in the wings that one of my very dear friends gave me as a gift only a couple years ago and how he came about it is a story in itself. Anyhow, I then have a big game journal and also a fly fishing journal. For me, the time spent outdoors in any of these pursuits are simply the best days of my life.

  6. 7

    I used to keep a sketch book like journal. Notes and sketches of paintings I wanted to do. Found an old one from 30 years ago that I had forgotten about. I was already combining words and images, no different than I do now. Still have sketchbooks lying around, but they’re kind of cumbersome. Now I have stacks of pieces of paper on my desk that drives my wife insane.
    Nothing fancy on the sketch books, but had to be 100% rag paper. A bit of a texture since I was sketching in it. There’s nothing like the feel of good paper.

  7. 8
    Tim Borkert says:

    I blog to help others, I write in a journal to help myself. I view them as two totaly different things.

    I have a leather bound journal that I use to record recipies and take other useful notes that I know I will need later. My memory is broken, so this is required. I hope this journal is still arround when I am gone for my kids to learn from. This has largely been replaced in day to day use with my iPhone and Evernote. I still use it for things that I want to remember forever.

  8. 9

    I usually keep an online journal, but just jot down random notes. I have always loved the idea of a handwritten journal, but have never been able to write consistently.

  9. 10
    Robert LeHew says:

    I keep several journals going at once. I use the aforementioned Moleskine. I prefer the Reporters model in 5×8 inch size. This is my daily journal. I also use a Levengers Notbilia refillable notebook in 6×9 inch size. This is a leather journal cover containing the venerable B&W marbled Composition book. I keep an adventure journal in a Jenni Bick refillable leather cover. This journal is only used for special occasions. Finally I like to record random entries on my computer using Life Journal software. Great product with options other than straight journaling. It allows me to make a daily mood graph, a monthly subject list and dream journals.

  10. 11

    I can’t stand writing things out in hand other than general notes or plans, other than that I use the computer. The blog is my journal of the outdoors bringing in everything I do including photos, videos, etc. I figure typing 50+ words a minutes sure beats cranking out sloppy penmanship at 8 words a minutes.

    However, I can’t always take the computer with me so a decent journal or notepad would be useful at times. I do jot things all over my Delorme Atlas if that counts for anything. Have a great day.

  11. 12

    I have journaled since I was 14 years old, if not earlier. Everything from life happenings to training notes during my equestrian days. I kept logs, quotes, jokes, tips, tricks, and all the meanderings of my travels. My journals, over 21 at last count, has recorded accomplishments, defeats, joys, trials, injuries, love, hate, marriage, divorce, ups and downs and nearly ever mile stone of my life. I found comfort in my journals and even pain in recounting and reminiscing. I have visited the good days with joy in my heart. Skimmed through the bad days that still cut like a knife. Reliving some pain reminds me that the journey may not have been all sunshine and roses….but it has made me who I am; for that I am grateful of my choice to be a journaler…if it is a choice at all.

    It is bred in my nature…born from a healthy sense of wonder, recorded adamantly but yet scribed meticulously chosen journal. For me, leather was my premier choice. A travelers style leather binder with refillable bound pages, preferably with college ruled lines. Not always though. Looking back through my journals they have matured with me evolving through the years from the simple hard back bound journals slathered with whimsical designs, animals, to majestic glories. Evolving into the later years of textures, oddities and leather.

    I still journal to this day, however my journaling has been molded into a recordation of quotes found along the way, mementos, important milestones, facts I want to remember, accomplishments and failures; not so much the weekly,or often daily recordings of the ongoings of life.

    I still dream of the day, hopefully many years from now, that I will be sitting in a high back rocking chair on the front porch of a nursing home reliving life through the pages of my box of journals.

  12. 13

    Yes I’ve always kept a journal and Moleskine is my FAVORITE. I have the lined journal for writing, the water color book for sketching, the thin gridline cahier for Geocaching, and a mini purple one to keep in my purse! I even sew my own Moleskine sketchbook covers with plans to one day sell them. I crave creative output when I’m stressed so I always have pen and paper ready. I would love a new Moleskine to fill up!

  13. 14

    I have kept a journal since I was 12….and love paper journaling. Just seems like paper will never go out of style (at least for me.) I treasure that box of journals in the basement (that I am hiding until I am dead! ;) ) I LOVE Moleskine and think they are some of the VERY best. Would LOVE to win – I desperately need a new journal! Thanks for the chance!!!

  14. 15

    I kept a journal in middle school, but don’t know what happened to those. Recently when I moved, I found that I had written more in my adult life than I had realized, including notes on my trips to Europe, about my daughters birth, and the collapse of my marriage, followed by traumatic accounts of my desperate search for my daughter in Hawaii. Needless to say, I’m much happier writing about fly fishing. I gave up on writing for a while, save for some odd pieces written for friends, then found my home in the blogosphere.

  15. 16

    I use the Piccadilly Medium Notebook without lines. I use it like a lab notebook. I cut and past articles of interest and I write my fishing reports and insert photos from each trip. It has gotten kind of messy since I have no way of really looking anything up in an index. I have to narrow it down to year and then flip through the pages until I find what I am looking for. Despite that, it is nice to sit down and go through pictures and narratives from years gone by.

  16. 17

    I have kept journals in the past. Now mostly I do it online. But, I have a small portable I use as a journal of sorts. I sketch and paint with watercolors in it. I also write my thoughts out and that usually goes with what I’m sketching or painting.

  17. 18

    I love the moleskine too. But I prefer channeling my inner Ernest Hemingway (he used them!) with the smaller 5 x 8” version. I’ve used both the soft cover and hard cover ones. Both have their drawbacks. The hardcovers are uncomfortable to sit on if you slip them in your back pocket, but the soft covers bend too much if you sit on them. I usually use the softcover in a front pocket if I’m out in the woods or travelling.

  18. 19

    I still keep a handwritten journal containing location, flies used, species caught, weather, water conditions, etc. I hope that someday it will afford my kids and grandkids a little more insight into my life. The same is true of my blog. I figure someday to have it bound, and make it available to my children and their children. No grandchildren yet – just looking ahead.

  19. 20

    I did, yes. It held all of my outdoor activities, including weather, flies used, where I went, budget, who was with me etc. Then one day I lose the journal and all of those precious notes. I therefore decided to start a blog to combat losing it or damaging it, and I kept my blog private for about a year. Then I decided to open it up to the public and I’m glad that I have because I have met many great people.

    I do keep a separate journal though, which is more of my thoughts. I am struggling making my posts more personal because of my general shyness, but I am making great progress.

  20. 21

    What a great idea! This would come in so handy for recording my shooting results when tinkering with reloads out at the range! I also like Rebecca’s idea of using it for recording fishing information. I spend way to much time trying to remember what worked in the past and when as I return to an area!

  21. 22

    I have a leather bound “roman” journal that was a gift in high school. I’m a scatterbrained and irregular journaler/blogger but the thing I a consistently use my journal for is on big trips and significant events (graduations, wedding day, etc). I also try to tape labels, cards and odd things in it like coins when I can. Entries are few and far in between but it is fun to read through the changes. The size is very travel friendly but the binding is a bit stiff making it a little awkward to write in. Great topic!

  22. 23

    I often keep a journal, though have lately drifted in favor of small scraps of paper or napkins! I think that a new moleskin would do me wonders as I try to engage my new years resolution which is to A) get more organized in my writing and B) write more!

  23. 24

    I have kept a hand written journal now for about twenty years. Unending volumes of thoughts, events, places. I make it a habit sometimes to refer back to older volumes, for instance today (Jan. 18), if I am having a bad day, I can look back over all the Jan 18s in my journals and find that I had some pretty good days on that particular date. Each of my children and my wifes birthdays, I write them love letters in my journal, I sketch certain places, I even rough draft some blog posts. And in keeping with the exact opposite of the electronic age, I write with a dip pen and a jar of india ink. It slows me down and requires me to think and digest each word as it is commited to paper. I have thrown my hat in the ring for a lot of things on this network, but if anything fits me and my style, it is this offering. If you do not keep a journal, you are really missing out on a great, if not the greatest, form of your writing life. So…yep! Throw my name into the RNG!

  24. 25

    I’ve been keeping something called a ten year journal for five plus years now. Its basically a journal with 366 pages but each page has a 4-sentence space for every year. So mine has 2006-2015 on every date which makes looking back really easy. Its pretty fun too- I’ll record what I do in a day and find out something like two years ago I was out on a backpacking trip, three years ago I was in the middle of finals season ect… comes in pretty hand when remembering birthdays and anniversaries!

    If you’re curious about what a ten year journal is, I’ve attached my blog post about it with some pictures. Its a really helpful and wonderful way to journal!

  25. 26

    Not so much a journal but I keep notebooks for work and for some of the technical stuff I have to do. My outdoors stuff are either the quick sketches I knock together for my blog (take 5 to 10 minutes) or I have a sketch book with much more detailed work here is a link for anyone who might be interested http://www.flickr.com/photos/elementowl/4868436182/in/photostream
    I enjoy blogging but I am still very much a fan of pen & paper. (please discount this comment for the moleskin sketchbook giveaway – I have plenty of sketchbooks and it would be a waste to send me another from across the Atlantic)

  26. 27

    I have always taken the time to write about my outdoor adventures. I was not consistent with my writing until I started blogging however.

  27. 28

    I used to keep a diary when I was about 10 years old. I remember it well snakeskin (fake) red cover. Haven’t a clue what I wrote, or whatever happened to it, but boy I wish I could get my hands on it now!

  28. 29

    I have kept a hand written journal for at least 8 years. It evolved a lot over that time. I intially began recording information about hikes I went on. Things like miles hiked, time it took, pros vs. cons on the trail, and anything notable. Eventually the journal moved towards what looked like a naturalist’s journal. I began keeping accurate observations of weather, animal, and plant observations (bloom times, migrating animals, unusual sightings, storms, etc.) These observations began to include observations in the backyard throughout the year, not just what I saw on hikes or while kayaking. Now I have several journals dedicated to various subjects (Nature observation, tenkara fishing, saltwater fishing, etc) When I got into the “blogging thing” I found a new way to journal and some of my other journals have suffered a little but I try to keep up with the hand writting of things. If one wants to get a better understanding of Nature there is no better way than a HAND WRITTEN journal. You can learn so much by having to focus more while trying to keep an accurate jourrnal…you always will see details that you would otherwise. They also have incredible predictive power when you review was you have written. By keeping them I can tell you (at least for the area I live in) within days when the first orioles of the year will show up, which trees bloom first oaks or maples, what is the best tide to fish, when the first fireflies should show up, etc. I think journaling electronically or by hand should be mandatory for kids of all ages in school. It’s a great tool to hone your observational skills and learn from past experiences.

  29. 30

    As an artist of sorts, I have used the moleskine in the past and love them. To be honest when they marketed it with the connection as Ernest Hemingway’s note book I was hooked. Great little sketch books and I would love to fill another one with fish and fly sketches. Great promo OBN!! Right up my alley.

  30. 31

    I have kept a fishing journal for quite a while now. I am running out of things to write in so this Moleskine looks like the perfect thing. I have just started blogging a while back and choose to use this as my other means of journalism. Tight lines.

  31. 32

    Ok, I’m call it on the giveaway part of this community questions. 1-31 comments are in for the journal. I’ll announce the winner here in a bit….feel free to keep giving us all feedback though!

  32. 33

    I attempted a few journals in the past but never really stuck with them for very long. I do carry a Moleskine notebook when I am on the river. I have found I keep my blog up to date on a fairly consistent basis as long as my “life events” don’t get in the way. Pretty much beyond that. I do have to say that blogging has allowed me to truly express myself. I will continue to keep up with my blog until I am no longer able to do anything.

  33. 34

    Blogging got me to use a journal. I use a small top spiral and take notes as I walk. The notes are essential to jog my memory when I sit down to write by draft. The details vary depending on how familiar I am with a place – or if I only want to note what’s in bloom.

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