Do you find yourself trying to juggle multiple assignments from multiple editors, all with shifting deadlines, unique editing procedures, and their own set of guidelines?
On top of the day-to-day tasks that keep you on deadline, what about organizing your pitches, reprints, and answering calls for submissions?
If you’re like many busy freelancers, you’re constantly switching between your phone calendar, a spreadsheet with assignment information on your laptop, emails with guideline information, all the while generally hoping you’re not missing anything. You’ve probably tried a few data planners and complicated “organization systems” aimed at sorting out the schedules of busy professionals.
The problem is, none of them work well for freelancers. The very nature of the job means your workload looks different from any other freelancer’s, so it would be impossible to grab an off-the-shelf planner that would adequately meet your needs.
One way to keep your life organized is starting from a blank slate, using a blank journal to customize your needs. There are a few ways you can structure these blank notebooks, one of which is bullet journaling.
According to bullet journal method creator Ryder Carroll, all you really need is a pen, some paper, and a desire to live the “more productive and meaningful life.” However, with a plethora of choices, you might be hit with decision paralysis after spending way too much time wading through the endless options.
Two of the most popular blank journal creators are Leuchtturm1917 and Moleskine. While both offer a welcoming, high-end space to start organizing, you’ll want to explore the distinct features of each before making an investment.
Both Leuchtturm1917 and Moleskine offer higher-end blank journals that will look great on your shelf. Though similar in some ways, they are not interchangeable. Depending on your style, one or the other is likely to appeal more to you.
Leuchtturm1917 Classic Notebooks
Founded in 1917, this German-based business has been churning out quality writing supplies for more than 100 years. Some Leuchtturm1917 products have been manufactured the same way from when the company began.
Leuchtturm1917’s classic notebook line includes several size and color choices and can be ordered with either a soft or hardcover. The company recently expanded its notebook line to include pre-dotted journals aimed at bullet journaling enthusiasts.
All Leuchtturm1917 notebooks include an inside pocket and an elastic enclosure band. Leuchtturm1917 features a thread-bound structure that allows the journal to lie flat when it’s opened, a big plus for writing.
One distinct feature of the Leuchtturm1917 notebook is the inclusion of numbered pages. For those who like to catalog their journals or create tables of contents and indexes, it can save from time-consuming hand numbering. This is very useful for archiving interview notes, which you should do for at least a year, according to many professional journalism sources.
- Trusted brand with a lengthy history
- Includes two sturdy bookmarks
- Includes stickers for labeling and archiving
- Ink-proof paper
- Complicated return process
- Hard to find in retail stores — shipping will add to cost
Moleskine Classic Notebooks
Moleskine hasn’t been creating journals for as long as Leuchtturm1917, but the company has nonetheless gained a loyal following. The company strives to create journals that carry on a journal style that has been around for more than 200 years. Read our full review of Moleskine’s notebooks here.
Moleskine’s Classic Collection features multiple colors and a choice of sizes and covers. All Moleskine notebooks include an elastic enclosure band, rounded corners, lay-flat construction, and an “in case of loss” section inside the cover.
A nice feature of all Moleskine products is the inclusion of a quality control card. The quality of many journals on the market suffers from the imprecision inherent to mass production. Moleskine prides itself on offering a high-quality product and makes sure to communicate that with the buyer.
- Excellent quality control
- Widely available in retail stores
- Choice of page layout: dotted, ruled, squared, or blank
- Portability — lighter paperweight means a lighter journal
- Paperweight is lighter — more prone to ink bleed and not suited for brush lettering
- Includes only one, flimsier bookmark
We all want something different from our trusty notebooks. Go ahead and get picky! Whether you’re a value-seeker, a paper-quality snob, or a conscientious archivist/note taker, there’s a Leuchtturm1917 or Moleskine notebook for you.
Both brands offer a wide selection of total pages and the ability to choose a layout (blank, dotted, grid-style, or lined). Leuchtturm1917 defaults to numbered pages. If you’re looking for more pages without tipping the scales, you’ll want to focus in on Moleskine (read more about paper weight below).
Winner: Leuchtturm1917. Why waste time hand numbering?
Leuchtturm1917 and Moleskine are clearly keeping an eye on each other. Prices are nearly identical, though Moleskine’s hardcover costs a bit more. However, it can become a bit of a scavenger hunt to locate a Leuchtturm1917 in a store near you, which means you’re going to have to cough up shipping fees.
Winner: Moleskine. The ability to walk into your neighborhood craft store and grab one is both more convenient and more affordable, assuming you don’t “take a quick peek” at the marker selection.
Sure to impress the pickiest paper enthusiast, Leuchtturm1917 is a more elegant offering, featuring weightier paper stock (80 grams per square meter [gsm]) and an option for gilded edges.
Moleskine’s pages aren’t as thick at 70gsm, and ink bleed can be a real issue if your favorite pen or marker isn’t compatible. On the other hand, thinner sheets mean less weight overall. If you’re throwing this notebook into an already stuffed backpack, you’ll be happy not to make it even heavier.
Winner: Leuchtturm1917. Ink bleed is simply a deal killer to many BUJO fans, and rightly so.
Cover Quality and Finish
Just when you thought you’d narrowed it down, here comes the cover choice. Both brands offer a full complement of colors for their hardcover varieties. The typical offering in stores is a black soft or hardcover, so if you want a splash of color, you’ll likely need to have it shipped.
Winner: It’s a draw. Both brands offer quality notebooks with sturdy, attractive covers that can be ordered in many shades.
Each brand’s classic notebook line offers journals in multiple sizes, from small “jotters” to large format master journals. Leuchtturm1917’s medium option is 5.75” by 8.25” while the Moleskine medium measures 4.5” by 6.9”.
Winner: Leuchtturm1917. The medium is significantly larger, so you’re getting more journaling space for about the same price (minus shipping). Still, the Moleskine notebook might fit better in your specific bag, so your mileage may vary. Since this notebook is both smaller in size and contains thinner pages, it’s lighter, so reporters on the go might prefer it.
Leuchtturm1917 offers 2 bookmarks that are stiffer than the single, floppy bookmark that comes with Moleskine notebooks. Both notebooks offer handy pockets inside the back cover and a place to record your contact information inside the front.
Leuchtturm1917 is sure to please archivists, thanks to the inclusion of numbered pages and labels. This can be very handy for people who need to retrieve notes later, like a reporter or research writer.
Winner: Leuchtturm1917. Even if you don’t archive your notebooks, Leuchtturm1917 does provide two quality bookmarks. It can be surprisingly helpful to be able to mark two sections at once, for instance, if you need to reference two sets of interview notes for the same assignment.
Use Leuchtturm1917 if:
- You want to index your notebooks
- You use pens and markers with thin ink
- You want luxe features like gilded edges
Use Moleskine if:
- You need a notebook today
- You like a larger standard-size page
- You value portability
Once you’ve settled on the best choice for you, it’s time to marry your old school sensibility with the convenience of modern tech! Set up a beautiful, free writing portfolio to showcase all that new work you’re sure to generate thanks to your excellent organizational skills.
Musings and updates from the content management team at Clippings.me.
Bethany McKay is a multiplatform writer, editor, and social media manager. She has more than a decade of newspaper experience and subsequent work in publishing, editing and organizing a variety of publications, such as reports, college textbooks, and science, law, and business books.