A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Liz de Jager: Confessions of a Stationery Addict


If you’re ever in my company for longer than five minutes it will soon become apparent that I have severe problems with saying no to stationery.  It doesn’t even have to be pretty, let’s be clear.  As long as the pages are clean, the lines neat and the girth acceptable, I will be all over a notebook in a blink of an eye.

It’s not healthy.

My problems started as a young child when my parents indulged me and my grandmother bought me my own school journals to write in because I had in fact, destroyed my sister Maureen’s school books with my own enthusiastic drawings. It was not pretty.

What little pocket money I got growing up I spent on books and notebooks. My dad brought me home reams of computer paper and I would use this to write on, to work on maps, to do school work, before transferring them to my school books. I wrote a lot. Then they bought me my own typewriter and it was an ugly metal beast, heavier than me at that stage, and I loved it utterly.

When we moved to the UK in 2000 I discovered things like leather journals. Paperchase. Etsy. Waterstones. Moleskines.  Then we visited New York and I fell in love with the stationery in Barnes and Noble.  My heart beats wildly when I see a new, unused, gorgeous notebook because the possibility of WHAT IF is so huge.

I have very few writerly rituals but I decided to share my biggest ritual / superstition with you, and it’s about stationery.

Master Plan

I have one notebook that I always carry with me.  This is my Big Idea notebook.  This is the book where I write snippets of conversations; character ideas; interesting names or phrases as I go about my daily routine.  This is the book I use when I a story idea grips me.  I will work out the bare bones in this book and it will be an ugly higgledy piggledy thing.  When I find myself unable to think of anything else apart from this story, the potential of it, this story graduates to its own notebook.

When the idea for the Blackhart trilogy came to me, I was using a limited edition Moleskine from their Woodstock run.  I loved this book so much as it became my constant companion for obsessive note-making.

From this notebook I transcribed my thoughts and ideas into a standard black Moleskine journal.  This is what it looks like.


This book is a mess but it is my mess. It holds every single far fetched idea I have for the Blackharts, their world, the monsters they fight, the politics, the places I’ve scouted in and around London and Brixton.  It also holds images of my characters.  I am so superstitious about this book. I have to at least once a week just flick through the pages and anchor myself in the Blackhart world.  It’s become my touchstone and it is a weird thing to admit, but there you go.  I also, horrifically, misplaced this notebook for about a month and I was completely distraught. I felt like I had lost a very important part of who and what I am. When it turned up I actually cried a little.  The relief I felt was immense and when I shared these feelings via twitter, more than half my timeline expressed that they too would have felt this way had they lost their notebooks.


I’ve now sort of laid this notebook to rest because the trilogy is done in the sense that I’ve written and edited the final book but it not yet donedone.  In fact, that’s the reason this blogpost is so late going live. I’ve not had a chance to work on it at all as my deadline was today to send Judged back to my agent. I typed THE END at around 00:38 this morning and fell straight into a deep coma some people call sleep.

But, let’s not get maudlin, because I’ve been carrying a new Big Ideas notebook with me for a few months now and I’ve been working on three story ideas I’d really like to see grow more legs.  This is the current notebook.

Grimm and New


I love the colour and I love that the cover can bend – and as you can tell from the handwritten page above, I prefer plain notebooks to ruled notebooks as it makes me feel unconstrained. My WHAT IFs can play madly across the page without boxes or lines stopping it.

The thing is, I may joke about stationery being an addiction to me but in the end, it’s what I do with the stationery I’m so addicted to that counts.  These journals are my lifeline.  It’s how I make sense of the world around me and the characters and worlds that live in my head.  I may spend a lot of money on these, but I never buy frivolously.  I have a ‘stock’ shelf of notebooks which I took a horrendous photo of this morning:


And it’s pretty scary to realise that I’ve got over a hundred unused journals in all shapes and sizes stuck in there from all around the world that I’ve either bought myself of that was given to me.  I’ve not bothered showing you the box of notebooks that I have next to this shelf – these journals are all crammed full of lists, photos and story ideas.  It would seem that I am prolific, and I hasten to add that I am not at all – I share these journals with my husband Mark. He’s a writer too, so between us, we go through a lot of words.

I bring this blogpost to an end with some photos of other notebooks and journals I’ve found of my stuff on my hard drive.  I hope you enjoy them!

Finally, back in April 2013 I did a blogpost over at my personal site about notebooks and friends kindly supplied me with photos of their journals.  Feel free to swing by via this link and check it out.  Journals and stationery form a large part of our creative lives and I for one would not have it any other way!


Liz in cafeLiz de Jager

Liz grew up in South Africa and is the youngest of six kids. In the year 2000 (AD) she moved to the UK with her husband and they now live in Kent with their Jack Russell, Sparrow. Liz ran My Favourite Books book blog for several years and wrote articles and reviews for other online sites about comics, movies and best writerly coffee shops in London. Continue reading…






About Liz

Liz de Jager drinks too much tea, has too many notebooks and books crammed on her bookshelves. She is owned by a Jack Russell called Sparrow. Her website is:

One comment on “Liz de Jager: Confessions of a Stationery Addict

  1. blondeusk
    December 19, 2014

    Loved this post! I also suffer from this as well. Terrible addiction as it causes me to go missing in stationary shops for hours and emerge bleary eyed carrying a host of pretty looking notepads. I also suffer with book purchasing and new book sniffing addictions too. Thx for sharing!

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