The first page of a blank book is the hardest, and also sometimes the best.
In honor of that truth, I’m dedicating the first real post here to this subject: blank books, and what to do about them, especially if you (like me) have trouble getting started in the face of all that possibility.
First, the easy part: make sure you have a couple of books on hand.
This is kind of a good trick, actually. Convincing myself that I have a backup – that this is not the last blank book I will ever begin – definitely helps take the pressure off.
My most recent pair of blank books came from Michael’s. I usually like this sort of size (5 or 6 by 7 or 8 inches) because it’s big enough to do some real work in, but small enough to be cute and portable. Anyway, these books are nothing special, but if you’re close to a Michael’s they have a pretty good deal on two of these for four dollars.
Online, I like the look of these handmade notebooks, especially if you want to stockpile a few at a time or add your own art to the cover. Or, if you have a special project in mind and you want to throw money at things like bookmark ribbon and fancy latches, there are always Paperblanks (like the ones pictured above). Fair warning, though – these books are beautiful, but if anything that makes it harder to get started.
Whatever you choose, a plan is all very well, but sometimes you just have to get through that first page.
Sometimes I start with a fancy title, a table of contents (leave it blank at first, then add numbered entries as you work through the rest of the book) a quote or borrowed image for inspiration or if worse comes to worse just a doodle – it’s not perfect, but honestly, the rest of the pages aren’t going to be, either.
If you’re in a hurry to get started, you could always make your own book (I guarantee that this process will work with recycled cereal boxes, duct tape, and one-sided scrap paper, but admittedly that the one in this tutorial is a lot prettier.)
Honestly, though, my personal favorite is a three-ring binder.
What it lacks in aesthetic quality it makes up in versatility. You can usually slide a personalized cover page or decorative paper under the plastic, and in any case you’ve got complete editorial control over the contents. Lined paper? Blank? Pages cut from magazines or printed worksheets?
Plus, if you don’t like the way that first page turns out, you can always start over.