NaNoWriMo: My plans this year.


Last year I took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I was drawn to this challenge after completing a Creative Writing course and I had an idea floating around in my head that I wanted to explore. I took the decision to write by hand, believing this would slow down my thoughts, allow my mind to digest the ideas and also not increase my screen time any more than I needed to. It was a great way to use my fountain pens and notebooks - I went through the full set of Baron Fig School Set three pack of Vanguards during the month. I wasn’t successful in completing the challenge but I did come out with a story more developed that I ever thought I could.

One year on, this half completed rough, first draft sits partially in my markdown editor, partly still in notebooks, completely unedited. I already feel a large amount of guilt because I’ve done nothing with this over the course of a year and I don’t want it to continue to sit there.

For this years NaNoWriMo I am going to get my first draft into my markdown tool - edit it, spot the gaps, see where extra content is needed, re-write sections, add to it, plus a whole lot of other things I am blind to at the moment. This year NaNoWriMo is a chance for me to focus and figure out whether my story is any good. Honestly I am a bit nervous about re-reading it, but that’s my inner critic and that person is completely unhelpful. It’s a start point and something to work on and improve.

The back end of the year always feels like challenge central and after just completing my first Inktober it does feel like I am flitting from one creative pursuit to another. I do find these collective challenges helpful to focus and in giving me a degree of accountability and that is how I will approach NaNoWriMo this month. No 50,000 word goal, no new story, I’m just using the month to work on the foundation I created last year and perhaps find a way to develop my story.

The tools.

Now this is a stationery blog, not a blog about writing, so I will be using some tools to try and complete NaNoWriMo this month. As one of my goals is digitising my draft I will be using my laptop or iPad to digitise everything, Ulysses is my markdown editor of choice.

However for the things that come up and that I spot for development I will use the Baron Fig Strategist notecards. I plan on putting one point on each card in order to keep everything very simply and so I can move things around if I need to. For anything that needs more thought and brainstorming I will venture into a Confidant notebook.

Overall thoughts.

I will of course share my learnings from my second NaNoWriMo and anything that I accomplish during the month. As always I enjoy hearing of other peoples experiences and pursuits too so please share and good luck to anyone who is taking part.

Mid-Week Mini: My First Inktober Completed.

Today is the last day of Inktober and I have drawn everyday this month. I am really pleased with what I have produced, that I was able to stay focused and to complete a drawing each day.

In this post I have included each drawing I completed, the good, the bad and the ugly.

My Inktober drawings.

Things I have learnt from Inktober.

I have enjoyed drawing with a Tombow brush pen. I like the line width variation from using one pen. It’s handy to just have one pen to use, rather than several drawing pens with different nib sizes. I had never considered using a brush pen to draw with but it works really well.

I restricted myself to using pen and pencil only. I didn’t want to distract myself with anything else. This has made me start venturing into line work but I really have no idea what I am doing. I have looked at a lot of other sketchers trying to see where and how they use their line work to guide my own drawings.

During this challenge I have found that I have no imagination and need to copy or follow something. Finding the time to sketch is tricky and means I am mostly drawing in the evenings. I have found Instagram and Pinterest the best tools and I have been drawing things that I find interesting. I make a note of where the drawing has come from and found this really helpful in developing my skills. Getting my perspectives right is still a major challenge and I just can't seem to wrap my head around this.


Overall thoughts.

I am really pleased to have taken part in Inktober. I have found drawing extremely calming and a good way to keep myself occupied especially at times where I normally waste time. In some instances my daily drawings have linked back to my day and my Inktober sketchbook has almost become a mini journal. I didn't plan that but I have drawn about things I have on my mind and things I have done. As always the test now is whether I can continue to draw regularly. Every day may be tricky, but finding a balance and routine is where I need to be.

Plus I already have my next sketchbook lined up, so I need to make sure I carry it with my and sketch whenever I can.

Pelikan M400 Special Edition Brown Tortoiseshell fountain pen review.


The Pelikan M400 brown tortoiseshell has been a prized possession of mine for two years and for some reason I haven't reviewed it. In today’s post I will give you my thoughts on this fountain pen but also a little background into my buying experience.

My buying experience.

This fountain pen is the nicest fountain pen I own. I bought it at my first London Stationery Show in 2016. I went the show curious to see what a pen show would be like and what pens would be on offer. I was on the hunt for a Pilot Custom Heritage 92 which I didn't find. Instead I was lured in by the beautiful Pelikan fountain pens and took advantage of being able to test out the different pen sizes and nibs. This proved invaluable.

Initially I was looking at the 2016 limited edition M205 in Aquamarine but holding this it felt too small and more plasticity than I had expected. I was really disappointed because I’d loved the look of this online, but getting it in hand it didn’t feel special enough and I knew I wouldn’t be happy with this purchase long term. I quickly upgraded to the M400 enticed by the Pelikan Souveran in green. I had a budget in mind and this maxed it out but buying one high quality fountain pen was worth it.

My husband and then newborn actually joined me at this show. This isn’t something I would normally do because I like to concentrate on my stationery shopping trips but this was a unique time. We probably thoroughly irritated everyone pushing a huge pushchair around the show but it turns out having them with me proved really useful. (My then four month old son was also given his first fountain pen, now tucked away in a drawer for future use.) My husband was the person who upsold me to the brown tortoiseshell M400. I had seen this pen from Liz’s blog posts and had already thought how beautiful it looked. The colours are classic and simple but the design really made this fountain pen look stunning. But it was out of price range for me so I'd ignored it.

My husband convinced me (this part wasn’t very hard) that this was the better buy. There was only one left and it was a limited edition pen, I could buy the green any time. He sealed the deal by offering to buy the pen for me as a pushing present. (Small side note here because I am not sure if this is a common thing or a British weirdly phrased thing. So a pushing present is something you’re bought after giving birth. This can be in the form of an eternity ring or jewellery.) My eyes lit up immediately because for a stationery addict what better way to celebrate a huge life event than with stationery. This fountain pen was beautiful and would forever be associated with my son. So I bit his hand off and handed the seller my husbands card immediately.

Buying at the pen show was invaluable. I was able to touch, feel and use the fountain pens I was interested in which showed me that the M205 wasn’t the pen for me at that particular time. Testing out the different nibs, trying a gold nib and looking at the different widths all really helped me feel confidant in my purchase.


The Pen Specifics.

Now let’s get into the actual review itself and discuss the specific features of this fountain pen and the things I love.

Size of the M400.

The M400 is a small pen. I had no concept of the size progression on the Pelikan pens and honestly I would have assumed they were bigger. Comparing this to other fountain pens I own its far smaller than the Lamy Safari/AL Star/LX, smaller than the Sailor Sapporo but larger than the Kaweco Sports.


It fits almost perfectly in my hand and unposted the barrel is still a good length making it comfortable to write with.

Barrel design.

The barrel design on this brown tortoiseshell special edition is stunning. The tortoiseshell design has deep dark browns, golden tones and light almost pearly white sections.


On top of the special barrel design and the gorgeous colouring there are also the other typical Pelikan elements to this fountain pen. There is the Pelikan bill style clip which I have always thought looked really attractive and makes these pens so distinctive.


There is the Pelikan logo on the cap of the pen, again very subtle. Around the pen cap etched on the gold section is the name of the pen. The cap in general is really nicely designed and the graduated cap is really nice.


Filling mechanism.

The Pelikan M400 has a piston filling mechanism. It has a good ink capacity and is really simple to fill up. As its not a demonstrator pen it does make it a little tricky to see how much ink is left in the pen, but I hold it up to the light to give me an idea of how much ink I have left.


The brown tortoiseshell has gold furniture. I have a 14K gold extra-fine nib. The nib has the iconic Pelikan design and is a two-tone. As this is a German fountain pen the extra fine is actually not that fine. It’s a really nice width but feels a lot more like a Japanese medium nib.


The nib really is very different to anything I have ever used before. This is my first gold nib and my first Pelikan nib. I’ve really enjoyed the softness of the gold nib. It really changes the writing experience making it feel almost luxurious. The nib is wet too which means you get a good amount of ink on the page and if you pair this with a nice ink the results are magical. I have mine inked up with the Sailor Waga-Uguisu and its a match made in heaven.


Using the M400.

Buying an expensive pen comes with a lot of expectations. You want it to live up to the price and therefore the writing experience becomes more important than it would on entry level pens. The M400 is smooth and light in the hand. In the two years I’ve had this pen I have had it inked the whole time and use it regularly. It’s such an enjoyable pen to write with, especially for long form writing.


Overall thoughts.

It may seem obvious but I love this pen for all sorts of reasons. I love the design of the pen and its colour. I love using the nib and how it writes, it’s just so smooth. Being my only gold nun pen it makes the M400 stand out against any other I own. I love the size of this pen, it works perfectly for me, but I also love what this pen means and what it represents.

Mid-Week Mini: Field Notes End Papers: Initial Thoughts.


The latest Field Notes quarterly release,End Papers, was another example of Field Notes pushing the boundaries of what they do with a pocket notebook. It seems like once a year Field Notes try something different with the quarterly release and this time we get a new size and the recurrence of the signature binding.


End Papers is a little taller than the Signature Field Notes but the same width as a normal standard Field Notes pocket notebook. This makes it a little odd in size. Let me explain what I mean.


Signature binding feels too burdensome on a pocket notebook. With small notebooks I don’t like or think signature binding is needed. Staples are easier and makes the notebook easier to use. Pushing against signature binding to just be able to use it is not a challenge I really want.



The size of this notebook feels strange. It feels too tall and slim and too bulky with the additional pages - 68 pages versus the 48 found in a standard Field Notes.


Their is a mixed page rulings within this release, left hand page is blank and the right ruled. This mixed ruling makes me want to write on the right hand side and then leave the left unused. I don’t think a mixed ruling works within a pocket notebook, it feels like a waste of pages. On an A5 sized notebook there could be an argument of why this is useful and how it could be used, but for me on a pocket notebook it doesn’t work.


Switching to a little positivity within this release the design of the End Papers is classic and simple with dark covers and debossed logo on the cover.


The marbled papers on the inside covers are pretty and I really liked seeing the process video that accompanied this release. The colours are a little muted, it would have been nice to have a little bit of colour. I like the combinations used on the Timber Green notebook the most.


Overall thoughts.

The signature binding makes me think of Write notepads and the more Field Notes use this binding on their notebooks the less inclined I am to use them. On the Field Note Signature series of notebooks the binding doesn’t inhibit how you use the notebook because of its larger size. With End Papers I don’t think this binding style works.


I like that Field Notes try different things but this release isn’t for me. The marbling process was obviously the main goal with this release but I think it could have been implemented in lots of different, cool and impactful ways.