Issue 8: The Written Word
Greetings, friends! It’s a new week filled with new opportunities. What will you do with the next seven days to reach your goals and dreams?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In this issue:
- Comic Books!
- Writing Advice
WHAT HAPPENED LAST ISSUE?
In issue, 7 we talked about video games. Specifically, short ones, and how you—as a player—can still find enchanting, moving, and worthwhile interactive experiences that last only a few hours. I also shared my favorite games from video game publisher Annapurna Interactive. If you missed it, check it out!
Something stinks here.
It smells like… like… nerd.
I beg your pardon. I don’t smell anything.
I can’t help but feel like you’re going to spend this issue talking about something dweebish. Sometimes I just get… oh, I don’t know… let’s call it a vibe.
I promise, this is going to be a good newsletter.
In fact, let’s move on to the main topic at hand.
WRITTEN IN LONGHAND
It’s no secret that many writers have obsessions. While the writer's classics are typically drugs or alcohol, I’ve developed an obsession of my own. And while my particular fixation isn’t deadly, or even harmful to the body, the potential is there that if not kept in check, my own dark habit could be ruinous to the wallet.
After years of denying it, I realize now that acceptance is the only way to move forward. The first step is always admitting you have a problem, right? Let’s do that, because I really need to clear the air.
I’m obsessed with notebooks.
I love notebooks. It’s possible that I even hoard them. However, I don’t treat them like they’re precious tomes only to be used in inspired moments of sheer writing genius. I write all over them. I throw them around. I bend them. I abuse them.
Once I transitioned into writing as a day job—whether that was as a journalist, freelancing, or my current role as a game writer—I found that my brain had rewired itself, equating looking at a computer screen with work. In order to be inspired, I had to get away from the computer, and those notebooks I’d hoarded were suddenly filled with ideas (both good and bad).
Now, before I ever start writing a new project—be it a comic script, short story, or novel—everything starts in a notebook where I can scribble down ideas and work through the outline process in longhand. There’s something about pen on paper that allows me to shut out the noise and notifications and spend time sharpening an idea or finding the right order for the words.
In an effort to validate spending (too much) money on notebooks, I now see it as a journey to find the best ones. When I say “best,” I’m not talking about quality. There are no gilded covers or golden-flaked pages in my collections. “Best” here references the notebooks that fit seamlessly into my workflow and make using them a pleasure. And because I know there are writers in the audience, I decided to compile a list of my current favorite notebooks in hopes they might be what you’re looking for as well.
Seriously, Wes? You’re gonna talk about notebooks? This is so boring.
Stay out of this, brain.
Best All-Around Notebook: Baron Fig
Born via a Kickstarter campaign in 2014, of which I was a supporter, Baron Fig has become my go-to notebook company. While their flagship product, The Confidant, is a hardcover notebook perfectly sized at 5.4” x 7.7”. The cover is clothbound and sturdy (though it does attract cat hair like no one’s business), and the paper weight is 90 gsm, acid-free. The inks I use don’t seep through pages or have a ton of ghosting, but since my notebooks tend to be filled with illegible madness, I wouldn’t mind if it did. The flagship version of the Confidant is a great size, but if you prefer larger or smaller notebooks, this model also comes in Plus (7” x 10”) and Pocket (3.5” x 5”) versions. I prefer the ruled notebooks, but the company also offers the majority of their products in blank and dot grid formats as well.
What I truly love about Baron Fig’s products is the versatility. The Confidant is a great travel notebook, holding up well in a bag, and the company also offers a softcover notebook called The Vanguard, which can survive any beating you can throw at them.
Over the years, Baron Fig has branched out to other products such as pens, travel bags, and desk accessories. I own at least one of nearly everything the company sells, and I have yet to be disappointed.
The Confidant is $19 for 200 pages. While the price point might be considered high, for me, the size and paper quality can’t be beat. Best of all—and an absolute necessity for my workflow—The Confidant lies flat, allowing me to copy my notes over to the computer without losing my place in the notebook, or having to lose a hand awkwardly holding it open as I type.
If you’d like to treat yourself to some Baron Fig products, use the link below, which will save you $10 on your order.
Shop Baron Fig with this referral code: https://go.referralcandy.com/share/C967TBH
Best Luxury Notebook: Leuchtturm1917
Anytime I want to splurge, the A5 Medium Ruled Leuchtturm1917 is where I go. Writing on these things… well… it’s like butter. I had originally purchased one as a Bullet Journal (and quickly realized that the organizational system I’d created for myself was more efficient than Bullet Journaling) and ended up using the notebook for a work project. It was a pleasure to use.
The book’s 80 gsm pages—all 250(!) Of them—are thin-yet-silky, and more importantly… numbered. Each notebook also has a table of contents where you can correlate different projects with different pages as well as sticker labels to demarcate the contents. A writer’s dream.
In line with my other requirements for a notebook, the Leuchtturm1917 also lies flat. Not so much lies, as… relaxes, as though it’s enjoying a poolside vacation. This thing knows how to make itself comfortable.
Leuchtturm1917 notebooks come in a variety of styles, shapes, colors, and interiors (ruled, dot grid, blank, graph) so there’s a little something for everyone. These beauties retail between $14-$20 each, fluctuating depending on the day and weather. You can currently snag the A5 hardcover for around $21 on Amazon.
Explore Leuchtturm1917 here: https://www.amazon.com/Leuchtturm1917-Notebooks-Hardcover-Medium-ruled/dp/B07ZXHGXDS
Best Budget Notebook: Huhuhero
At this point, I have so many blank notebooks crowding my shelves, drawers… the floor (seriously, it’s becoming a problem), so when I need a new one, I grab whichever one strikes my fancy… maybe I’m drawn to a specific color that day, or maybe I’m up for trying a new brand. But as a writer, I’m also inclined to be frugal, so finding a budget notebook that still gives me what I need is key. If you run a search for “notebook” on Amazon, you can bet that I’ve taken nearly all of your $10-and-under search results for a spin. Many were fine. Passable. Adequate. But the feeling of a notebook is important to me. When I work in them, it challenges all of my senses and I need it to be a tactile experience. The best notebook under $10 that I’ve found is Huhuhero’s ruled version.
These 5" x 8.25" books are taller and slimmer than your average bear, but the 120 gsm paper is thick and meaty, able to handle whatever pens you may throw at it. If you’re a fan of the Field Notes paper, the weight will be familiar and right up your alley. (For the record, I love Field Notes, too, however, I find pocket notebooks to be too small for me and I often fill them up in a single writing session. Then I have to keep track of multiple, tiny notebooks, which quickly devolves into a nightmare when my daughter comes into the office, sees them, and gets grabby).
Huhuhero keeps it simple. You don’t have to be fancy when you do something well. They don’t have a ton of variation in their books, other than the color that decorates their strong, sturdy covers. While the faux-leather covers succumb easily to scratches, scuffs, and cat teeth (long story) the 128 interior pages remain well-protected.
Like the notebooks I profiled before it, the Huhuhero notebooks lie (mostly) flat, include an enclosure band and bookmark ribbon, and won’t break the bank at $9.50. If you try it and like it, Huhuhero offers the notebooks in bulk via Amazon, allowing you to score five books for $30, or 10 for $50. Then you too can be swimming in blank notebooks and visitors to your office can wonder what’s wrong with you.
Shop Huhuhero here: https://www.amazon.com/Notebook-Journal-Classic-Premium-Journaling/dp/B07DCSJ35B
Best Custom Notebook: Denik
I only recently came across the Denik brand when I saw some crazy notebook designs being advertised on social media. (what can I say? I’m easy to market to.) Denik sources their designs directly from the talent, allowing budding artists to have their work seen by creatives all over the world. Despite offering various sizes, shapes, and interiors, Denik’s classic layflat gets my endorsement. I prefer hardcover notebooks, but these 5.25" x 8.25" softcovers get the job done without sacrificing quality. Not only can you get some amazing designs, but each classic comes with 144 pages of lined, blank, or dot grid pages bound in smyth sewn library-quality—a rarity for a softcover notebook. Prices range by design, usually $10-$12.
The other appeal of Denik’s products is that they make customized notebooks extremely affordable at roughly $15 per unit. Denik’s online design tools makes uploading and laying out your custom images extremely simple, and shipping is fast. It’s always nice to be able to identify a project just by the cover, so I splurged on a couple of custom Unit 44-themed notebooks in which to keep my current and future ideas. They came out great and make me smile each time I open them.
I’m unsure of Denik’s paper weight, but it’s on the thin side with more ghosting than some may want, but again, if you’re just filling notebooks with scratch ideas, recipes for world domination, or other madness, you’ll find the interiors to be completely adequate.
Worth noting, even if you’re not a writer, custom notebooks make an excellent gift for your favorite writer… or if you are a writer, custom notebooks are a great way to share your branding with others. Just sayin’.
See? That wasn’t super nerdy, right?
Whatever helps you sleep at night, Wes.
Thanks for that.
For my writers in the house, I urge you to check out any and all of these notebooks, or add them to your wishlist whenever your birthday rolls around. You won’t be disappointed. Or maybe you will. We all like different stuff, and that’s cool.
Are there notebooks that you love, and connect with? Drop a comment and tell me about it! After all, I’m always on the hunt.
COMIC BOOKS—PART OF A BALANCED BREAKFAST.
The Alterna Comics Spring Preorder campaign soldiers on and is currently InDemand. Meaning that technically, it’s not a crowdfunding campaign anymore. It’s just… y’know… online shopping. If you haven’t secured your copy of Unit 44 #5, you can still get it for just $2. Also, consider picking up the Unit 44 volume 1 Giant, which collects issues #1-4 of the series!
Preorder your copy of Unit 44 #5 right here (shipping in June!): https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/alterna-comics-spring-2022-pre-orders-indemand/x/12116917#/
I’ve been doing the rounds to talk up the book to anyone who will listen. A few weeks ago I visited with the man himself—Alterna Comics publisher Peter Simeti—cramming everything you need to know about Unit 44 into 30 minutes! We also had a surprise guest in the form of Unit 44’s new artist, Aleksandar Jovic! It was a great time and we’re sorry you missed it, but you can catch the replay below.
And since my promotional efforts are unstoppable, like an out of control freight train, last week I was a guest on Indie Comics Relay and enjoyed an even deeper discussion into Unit 44, some of my past comic projects, and writing video games for a living. Check it out!
Silverline Comics’ Kickstarter campaign, featuring my sci-fi/action book The Obsoletes, is still funding! We have 6 days remaining and are looking for just over $1,000 in funding to bring the first issue of The Obsoletes (as well as Beyond the Stars #1 and Krey #1) to life. If you haven’t supported Silverline (and me, by extension), consider jumping in on this one. I’m super proud of this book, and if you already enjoy my comics work, you will find The Obsoletes to be just as delicious.
The entire team for The Obsoletes (me, along with artist Aaron Humphres, inker Jose Fuentes, and colorist Haley Martin) went on the Critical Blast YouTube show last week to discuss what we have in store for readers! If you missed it, be sure to catch the replay.
Preorder your copy of The Obsoletes #1 right here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/silverlinecomics/scifi1
Ever struggled with writer’s block? Of course you have! We all have! And for those writers who may not have tussled with getting their ideas onto the blank page, you’re a total liar!
A great way to break through whatever creative blockage you may be experiencing is to get a change of scenery. Write somewhere new… Go to a café. Go to a library. Go to a friend or relative’s house. Go outside. Go inside. Get out of your usual habitat.
But also, change up your medium. If you typically write on the computer, grab some paper and pen and try drafting longhand. Write in a notebook. On notecards. On napkins. In the sand. In the dirt. On a whiteboard. With a marker. Some chalk. A stick. The sky is the limit.
Force yourself out of your normal environment and see how it affects your thinking. Because it will.
If none of that works, try a repetitive physical activity, one where your body can go on autopilot, and your mind can wander, discover, and dream. Take a walk. Take a shower. Pick up sticks in the yard. Clean trash out of a ditch. Maybe help the planet a little bit in the process, huh?
Sometimes a little bit of change can be exactly what the mind and body need.
Once again, I have written longer on this newsletter than intended. Typically Substack will warn me when Gmail is at risk of truncating my emails. Now I’m being warned that this email is too long for human consumption. Ah well.
Our other features will return at a later date. Or new ones will be added since my Oral History links have gone unread.
Until we meet again!
I’m Wes Locher. I’ve been writing professionally for a decade. I write comic books, video games, fiction, and nonfiction. I write whatever seems fun, cool, and inspiring. I also love helping other writers to demystify the process of making a living through words. This is my newsletter.