Goals · how to · Pay It Forward · Tips · Writing

Writer Wednesday: Creating A Book Journal

In March, I decided to create my own Book Journal. I’d toyed with the idea for a while, but I’m not artistic anymore, and I’m prone to making mistakes. I hate having mistakes, or crossed out stuff in an otherwise neat book, so the thought of making my own (clean! and pretty) Book Journal made me shudder.

Then I realised, I had Canva at my fingertips. Something I use all the time, for making my blog post images or book teasers. And, once I got started, I fell in love with the process, and with the finished product, so I thought I’d share my How To here.

Yes, in hindsight there are things I’d do differently, but that’s because I was an overexcited eager beaver and printed pages with “blank” spots I was meant to fill in later (before printing!) and I wasn’t paying attention. Are there things I’d change, for next time? Of course. But, I’ve made all the mistakes so you won’t have to…so…you’re welcome?

~

What You’ll Need

  • Canva (the free version is fine!)
  • A Printer
  • Ideas!
  • A brand new notebook
  • Sticker Paper
  • Scissors
  • A Ruler
  • Patience…and more patience!

For anyone curious, this is the notebook I chose and this is the sticker paper I use (Amazon or EBay are great, for price, but EBay allow you to choose your page count). If you wanted, you could buy the matte stickers available at Redbubble, but be aware that the consistency is different, a brighter white and the paper thicker, so it will be more noticeable than the sticker paper I’ve listed, which tends to blend into the background (which is why I love it!). You’ll see in the finished images that I made a few mistakes, that I had some squint pages, and one or two pages where I had to piece together the artwork, instead of it being one big sheet, because I printed mistakes. This paper means that it’s much less noticeable or glaring to the eye.

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I recommend you get a notebook with WHITE pages, and PLAIN, with no ruler lines. This means that when you put your printed sticker paper on the pages, you’ll barely notice the edges, as it blends in with the white page. If you do want some lined pages, then you can add those in pen/pencil, to the pages you want, or do as I did and pre-write your writing onto printable pages.

I chose the hardback version, because I worried the weight of the sticker paper might make the spiral pages more susceptible to tearing, when being handled. Redbubble handle that well, because their hardbacks have a nicely expandable spine that gives enough leeway for what I did. Right now, I’ve filled the entire book, and I definitely think the weight and strain of all that added paper would have been too much for a tear-away spiral bound notebook.

In case you’re wondering, I initially measured the inside pages at 17.5cm x 12cm. This was, admittedly, a tad big, but nothing that a slight trim wouldn’t fix. However, when I came to printing new pages (after ordering more paper!) I adjusted down to 17×12, and this was MUCH better. It was an almost exact fit, without overlapping.

I do plan to make another one, once this book is completed, but I would run tested pages first, next time! I did an obscene amount of cutting and trimming, all eye-balling it, with this one, and I regret every wasted second of it. (And the scissor ring shaped bruise on my finger!)

Honestly, the reason I made such a mess and so many mistakes was because I was rushing it. I had reading deadlines, but I was overtired, stressed, and sore from a recent fall, and I didn’t want to keep running up and down the stairs to the printer for test pages, or to lug my laptop upstairs, so that I could adjust things while sitting at the printer. But, in hindsight, if I’d been more organised at first, I wouldn’t have had those issues.

But…you live and learn, and now you can benefit from my mistakes.

~

STEP 1

Find the images you want to use. I chose some fanart that I loved for The Matrix, my favourite K-Pop bands, my favourite Yaoi, and book quotes that I found online or had stored for making my own desktop wallpapers. As they’re not for profit, or for sharing, I just used what I could find on Pinterest, but feel free to buy custom artwork, if that’s your thing, or make your own personal fanart for the things you love. As I said, I’m not able to be artistic anymore, so this was the best option for me.

This is also the most fun, and easiest part of the process. But, inevitably, as you adjust your design later, you’ll find empty spots, you’ll have used up all your artwork, or you’ll find a certain image doesn’t fit the design you’re creating. That’s great! That means you’re working through it as you go, and that’s normal. I didn’t, but you absolutely should – keep a folder of Decorations/Artwork. I didn’t do this until I was printing the final pages, and it would have saved me so much time.

TIP: Create a folder for Artwork, Book Covers, and Originals. This way you’ll be better organised than I was. I (eventually) kept book cover images or spines in one folder, the original artwork in another, and then a separate folder for the artwork that I removed the background of, e.g. when I used Vectorstock. I like to clear out any excess background, so that it all fits seamlessly into the white background of my pages, for printing.

STEP 2

Decide what type of journal you want. It took me some searching, trial and error, and a lot of browsing pre-made book journal templates to decide what I wanted.

I ended up choosing some popular options, and making some of my own: making visual bookshelves, a book bingo, and using my own list of owned books to create a list of my own. My pages consisted of:

  • Images
  • K-Pop Lyrics
  • List of Owned K-Pop Albums
  • Miss Marple & Hercule Poirot reading list
  • Quote Pages
  • Bookshelves
  • Book Bingo
  • Year in Review

It sounds like a lot, right? Well, I bought a pack of 30 sheets of sticker paper, used the whole lot, plus 3 pages I had left over from my last packet, and still had to order another packet for about 20 more pages. So, I recommend you get the 50 pack. Anything you don’t need, you can use later or for other projects. Because the notebook I bought has 125 pages, I originally planned to leave about half empty, to fill in as the year continued, and more ideas popped up, but after a few days, I found more book release lists, more gorgeous covers, and found that I EASILY filled the entire book. Which is fine, because I’ll only buy another notebook and make a new journal when ALL the books in this one are read. Which will take me a LONG, LONG time.

STEP 3

MEASURE! This needs to be in caps, because I had a lot of trouble getting the right measurements. I’m not good with numbers, as I have mild dyscalculia, and often get numbers the wrong way around, or easily forget them. So, I measured 3 times, before I got it right. I printed a TEST page on plain paper, to check my measurements, and then had to re-size, so it was a total faff the whole way through.

Measure FIRST, and then begin arranging your design on Canva. My problem was that I misread Rebubble the first time. I took their measurements for the notebook to be the inside, but it was for the outside, so I was a good cm off in both directions the first time. Then, when the delivery came, I measured the inside pages wrong.

DON’T BE ME! Measure right, the first time. If in doubt, try a different measuring tool.

Once you know the exact size of your notebook pages, then you start designing! Yay!

TIP: I kept the measurements on a sheet, nearby, while I was designing, but didn’t use them right away. I’ll explain more later, but I designed everything on an A4 project on Canva, then resized down to the right measurements later. This simply made it easier to see what I was doing, and arrange the design.

STEP 4

Head to Canva! This is the fun part.

I decided to do this the long way, but you can decide how you want to do yours, based on what I did. The long way is to design each individual page on a portrait A4 sheet, download them, then open a landscape A4 template, and insert the pages into a photo grid that fits the exact size of the pages in my notebook.

First…

I opened a normal A4 document, and began designing each individual page on that A4 sheet. My theory has always been that it’s easier to shrink an A4 to A5 size than to expand a design, if you get your measurements wrong. Expanding always leaves something out of focus, and it’s easier to see and plan your design on a bigger frame. Yes, this means you then have to resize down to your notebook size (unless you’re a clever clogs, who chose an A4 notebook!) but, it’s much easier to mass-resize your pages, if you make a mistake, when all you’re doing is inserting a completed design into a sized frame.

Plus, the sticker paper comes as A4, so I can print a 2-page option for my book on one A4 page, which saves paper and printing time.

However, before printing, make sure that you can SEE and READ everything clearly, on your sized down version. I noticed on one of my bookshelf pages, that it looked great in A4, but I’d misjudged how small the book covers and spines would be, in the finished product. Basically, the spines are indecipherable, on some of the books, especially where the cover and font don’t downsize well, because of the colour or style.

TIP: Once you’ve got your design of the page how you want it, make a BLANK copy. Especially for things like your list pages, or the book bingo. This way, when you’ve completed these lists, you can come back to Canva, open the blank copy, and begin making your next set, without having to start the design from scratch, or design over your previous design, which can be sticky. Inevitably, at some point, you will forget to delete/replace an image or listing, then you’ll find yourself with accidental doubles. Blank pages, to keep for later, are the best way to avoid that.

DESIGN 1: Title Page

Though I did this last – because I didn’t intend to have a title page at all – I changed my mind at the end. Best to do this first, and you can always choose not to use it, or not to print it, if you change your mind.

For me, it was a simple choice. A title page, with a quick contents, and a matching designed page, with a list of my All Time Favourite books. I did this, after I realised that I wanted this to be a LONG TERM book journal. Not a yearly one. I want to include all the books I currently own, to an extent, that I’ve always been meaning to read, but never got around to. That way, the book lasts longer than a single year.

I also decided to add a final page, with a list of total books included in the journal, and then sections underneath with a blank space, for – Books Read in 2022, 2023 etc. This isn’t to list the actual books I read, but to just note the number, so that I can see at a glance, that I have, say, 200 books listed and I read about 50 of them in 2022, another 70 in 2023, and so on.

DESIGN 2: BOOKSHELVES

Now, all books need a bookshelf. I found some great blank bookshelves and book templates on VectorStock, which is my go-to place for vectors. Then, if I need to remove the background, I use either Removebg or LunaPic, both of which I’ve been using for years, for my teasers and blog images. To start with, I added ALL of my images into one folder, so they were easy to find, and easier to upload to Canva. But, inevitably, you’ll find an empty space, or something new you want to add, a new idea or you’ll find an image you picked doesn’t work as well, and you’ll play with your options.

As I said, I used an A4 page, so I began arranging my bookshelves. Here’s a peek at my designs. I started off quite plain, with basic bookshelves, then made some bigger ones, that showed off the book covers better, and then I got a bit fancy. I’ll admit, the fancy designs didn’t work out, long term, because the covers and spines weren’t so easy to see clearly.

Psst! The edging lines are just for me to know where to cut. I can’t cut a straight line to save myself, so despite having them as a guide, expect some errors in the final cuts. Also, the arrows are just to point out to you, the places where I added my own real-life items. They’re not on the printed version.

As you can see, I made two styles of bookshelves, and added some character to the later design. As I have a poodle, I of course added the cutest poodle I could find. But, I had also recently redesigned my bedroom bookcases and had some images on my phone from that, so I toyed with adding in real-life trinkets from my shelves to my bookshelves in the journal, and I think it worked out well. I added some ornaments, some of my K-Pop album collections, and even used some real images of my bookshelves as the cover spines. The lamp on the third image is mine, as are the Untamed items and the BTS figures.

For other cover spines, I had to do an intense search online, hoping someone had made an IG post with the books I wanted to add (and I mostly got lucky). However, you could avoid this by not using real cover images, and just writing the names in. I just wanted to add some colour, and there were some really gorgeous covers I wanted to include.

Also, the empty spines are great places to add other books along the way. So, if a book releases, or a new list of upcoming releases empties my bank account (joking!) then I can add the names in the spines, but the main parts are pretty and already done.

Most of the covers used here are books I own, have pre-ordered, or plan to buy as physical copies. On the second design, I mostly added e-books I own, or that I plan to buy when they release. You’ll see that I made one with the covers and one with blank covers…well, I tried to be fancy. I thought I could use the blank covers as a topping, over the layer with the real covers, and when I read the book, I could remove the blank cover to reveal the actual book cover. That way, it gives me even more incentive to read the books!

TIP: To find book spines, these were some of the search terms I used: YA book spines, LGBT book spines, unique book spines, gorgeous book spines, Barnes and Noble leatherbound, classic book spines, #bookstagram. I then saved the images I found, used Paint to scribble out the covers/spines I didn’t want, and then cropped when I could, to make it clear what I was using and what I wasn’t. Then, when it came to adding them to my design, I could count how many blank spaces I had and how many spines, then decide whether to design or search for more.

This is also a great time to find the book covers you want to feature in full. Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, and other booksellers like Blackwells and Waterstones are great for this. They provide good quality images that resize really well. And, if you don’t use them all, you can use them as decoration later (as you’ll see I did, at the end), but you’ll generally find you use ALL of the book covers and spines, and then need to find more, later.

In total, I used:

  • 115 spines
  • 133 covers (for bookshelf designs)
  • 40 covers (for quote pages)
  • 46 covers (for book bingo)
  • 72 covers (for decoration)

Yes, that seems like a lot, but I did make some accidental doubles, and the covers I used for decoration were all covers used previously.

DESIGN 3: Lists, Lists, Lists!

Next, I created my lists. As I already have a spreadsheet with a list of books I own, and where I bought them (to avoid my old bad habit of buying books twice, from two different places) this was easy to do. But, if you don’t have a list, try Goodreads, check your Amazon or Kobo library, or search for ideas. You can search things like Most Anticipated Books by genre, by year, or choose one of those Books You Must Read Before You Die lists.

TIP: I have quite a few book rec lists, on my blog, if you want to take a look. I’ve also listed some of the lists/articles I used.

Just search Fangirl Friday, Best Of, or check for Most Anticipated.
Books by Trans Authors
Most Anticipated LGBT Books of 2022
LGBTQ+ Books 2022, New Releases
LGBT YA Books January-June 2022
Must Have 2022 Queer Books, January-June
Most Anticipated Books of 2022 – the YA Version – I also have a 18+ version coming soon.

I included my own list of books I own, as well as Agatha Christie lists for Miss Marple and Poirot, lists of my Netgalley reads, paperbacks, my e-books and the books featured on this poster, which I own. At the end, I also made a written list (with covers for decoration) of ALL the books listed throughout the journal. This will be printed on plain printer paper, double-sided, and kept in a self-made pocket on the back page of my journal. This way, I can tick off the books on THIS list, without marking or cluttering my nicely designed pages.

This is your list, so do what you like. Go wild!

Because I designed the pages on an A4 sized document, I’ll admit that the sizing of my font was off, for my first set of lists. My physical copy of the notebook hadn’t arrived by the time I began designing, so I didn’t know exactly what size the inside pages would be. Which was part of the reason I designed on an A4 sheet. However, I also didn’t look at it in 100% view, when making my lists, because I probably would have noticed how big the font would be, on the real life notebook. I used Libre Baskerville font, at 20, and it was honestly too big. I thought I’d worked around this problem, by making the lists landscape rather than portrait, so that I could have two columns of lines, but it was still too big. I’d probably have been better making them portrait, but that’s hindsight for you.

When I made new pages, I went down to 12 for the font size, which meant I could get more on the page. I also changed the layout to portrait, and decorated the blank sides, as you’ll see in the final pages.

DESIGN 4: Book Bingo

There are lots of ideas for book bingo online. My suggestion is just to go through all the images you find on Google, and pick’n’mix what suits you. Whether that’s an A-Z, books with colour covers, books with food in the title, or people on the cover…take your pick. I designed mine at random, really. Based on ideas I liked, and then I added the blank covers, at first, to see what kind of size the bingo card would be. Once I’d finished toying with that, I made a copy of that page, and began adding books that fitted the themes, both from the bingo card I’d already started this year, and from books on my TBR.

Again, I made this a double page, because I wanted the blank cover on top, able to be removed when the book was read, to reveal the cover. But, this also means that if I read a different book that fits the bill, I can just change the original design to add that cover instead, print it, and stick the new cover in place.

DESIGN 5: Pictures

Now you have all your book related stuff out the way, let’s get to the pretties! I did a simple Google search for what I wanted, but you can be artistic or find the images wherever you want (as long as you’re not selling it).

Once you have your images, you can start to design a background or frame for it, or decide to leave it plain. For some images I found, they were mostly white background, and I added a filigree frame. Others, they filled the page with colour and beauty, so I left the frame off (other than one for cutting along). If some were plain white backgrounds, but seemed to leave vacant space on the page, then I’d fill that in with a background from Canva’s free images or something I found on VectorStock.

DESIGN 6: Quote Spaces

I made a full page of these, using a blank white book template, and what Canva calls a “brush box” with quotation marks. This is where I can write in, or add a printed sticker later, of quotes from books I loved.

Initially, I only added one page of K-Pop lyrics, because I wanted to type my quotes later, and because the second K-Pop quotes page had an accident on it. (I moved an image, then thought I’d deleted it, only I’d accidentally moved it in front of another image and never noticed until printing.) However, when it came time to add a quote to the box, I made a mistake. I was using pen – which was a HUGE mistake – and I was tired, so I made an extra line on a ‘w’ and it looked stupid and unclear. I instantly regretted attempting to write it in, but chose to write because I’d been stupid enough to print a page with blank quote boxes in the first place.

Don’t be me! Type your quotes into pretty text boxes, let the laptop spell-check for you (or copy/paste from the book or lyrics page) and be smart! I wasn’t smart, and thought I’d “try” to be smarter, so I added pretty images to my copy of the quote boxes, typed my quotes up, and…subsequently made a mess of my pretty book, because I had to patchwork the images together into one page, and layer the new quote boxes over the old, and I didn’t realise 3 were infinitesimally smaller than the rest, so I got them in the wrong places. Now I have visible parts of the old blush box, beneath the new sticker, that I’m going to colour or draw in, to disguise them. Which will probably be a mistake, but I’m past the stage of ripping out pages (!!!!) or reprinting pages to layer over the top (as that would be messy!)

DESIGN 7: Year End Review

I decided to add in a Year End Review page, because I liked the idea of keeping a note of my favourite book of the year, somewhere other than Goodreads. I do the Goodreads challenge every year, but it doesn’t note my MOST favourite book, only the ones with the most 5* reviews. So, this is my way of marking my favourite read of the year, as well as other notable things.

Also, I made a sort of pyramid/tree for choosing my Best of the Year. This way I can write in the best book of the month – or leave it blank, if I didn’t read much that month – and whittle it down from there, to the best of those, of the whole year.

The little 20 beneath Year End just means that I can write in 22/23/24 at the end, as the appropriate year. And, on the Awards page, I made sure to leave a bit more room at the top of the books for the award title, e.g. Best Crime, or Made Me Cry.

DESIGN 8: K-POP!

Okay, so you might not want any K-Pop pages, but this was a fun addition for the back of the book. I wanted to list all my owned K-Pop albums in one place, while having it look pretty. So, I went on a search for K-Pop fanart, for my favourite groups, found my favourite (English) lyrics to my favourite songs by them, and put this together.

I used a simple (camera) negative frame for the 1st page, inserted pictures of the band members, and added the logo, then I created a circle of their names in the same font/colour as the rest of the text, and added a colour key for the albums to be listed.

Sometimes, I combined the list page with a full page image, e.g. the left image. Or, sometimes I’d take a lyric page (such as on the right) and put it next to a list page, depending on the group and look. For example, I had a list page and lyric page for NCT 127, then when you turn over, it’s a full-page NCT 127 picture, with an MCND list page. I also have a double page with just lyrics on both pages.

Here, I added the names to the Dreamcatcher logo, the background to the full-page fanart, the petals to Seventeen’s lyric page, and the hanging lights to the GOT7 lyric page. The page on the far Right is similar to my quotes page, but it has band members and K-Pop lyrics.

TIP: I know this sounds simple, but seriously – check your spelling!

I was gutted to find that, while I spellchecked along the way, I had actually made one spelling mistake – reocmmendation – in a book title! And, I accidentally left a double in, from when I copied a Book Title, to keep the same font/size on a new page, but forgot to change the title!

I only found this out while cutting the pages to be added to the book. So…before you get that far…SPELLCHECK! Everything. Bump the view of the pages up to 100%, then check everything.

STEP 5

Download your images from Canva. I recommend downloading as PNG, because you get the best quality from Canva that way. And, at this point, you can just do a simple download All Pages.

Step 6

Now, go back to Canva, and…

OPTION 1: make a blank A4 LANDSCAPE document.

OPTION 2: COPY your original document (A4 portrait).

Whatever option you choose, you’re going to make a printable version of your journal. So, start with a BLANK page. For Option 1, you have a document of only blank pages, so you can start immediately. For Option 2, either copy a page and delete everything on it (messy, if you forget to copy first) OR go to the bottom, click “add a new page” and more it to the top.

Add a full-page picture grid, and reshape it to the size of your INSIDE notebook page. Now, choose a simple line, adjust it to a colour that matches your border/font (a safeguard, in case you don’t cut close enough for it to be entirely removed, like I do). Then, run that line along the top, copy it to frame the bottom and sizes, and resize so it covers the whole frame. This will be your Cut-Line.

This is where I decided whether to make the page full-size or half-page. So, for example, I wanted my book bingo to be full portrait, but my blank cover bookshelves to be landscape full-page. And this is where you can play around with the orientation and arrangement of your pages. I didn’t bother arranging them, as I knew I’d do that when I’d finished printing and cutting, when I could lay them all out in front of me. But, maybe you’re the type who wants to print them in order, and that’s cool.

For my images, sometimes I had 2 images on one printable page, and at others, I had an image take up the entire page. This was based simply on preference.

Now, for Option 1: import the downloaded images from the portrait A4 document and start placing them. It will take some figuring out, a lot of trial and error, and you’ll get frustrated. That’s where the patience comes in. The good news is that, if you like a layout or aren’t sure about it, just copy the page, and then try rearranging it on the copy. This way, if you find the original idea makes more sense, you haven’t lost it, but if the new one is better, you can delete the original page.

For Option 2: highlight/select EVERYTHING on your designed page, minimise it to less than you need, move it into your Cut-Line box, and then resize to fit the space. Rinse and repeat until all pages are done.

This is fiddly, but can be a better option if you want to start moving things around to fit the space better.

Personally, I recommend Option 1, as it’s the easiest. But, you can test which one works best for you and adjust as you go. You might find that the fit isn’t perfect, with Option 1, and resort to Option 2, so you can tinker with placement. Or, if you find that you have an odd number of pages, Option 2 allows you to play with it a bit more.

TIP: If your notebook is around A5 size, you’ll find you can fit two pages on your A4 sheet. Rather than laying them side-by-side, leave a noticeable gap between the grid boxes, so that when you come to cut them, you’re not getting bleed-through from one image to the other. This also makes it easier to do the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants arrangement, after you’ve printed. You can cut each page to it’s individual size, then move them around on the table, mixing and matching.

For example, if you look at the double lyrics pages above, you’ll notice a small grip/box in the centre. That’s my no-cross zone. The space to separate the two pages. Because the notebook pages are smaller than the A4 sheet, this leaves you plenty of room for this, but don’t make it too big, as that’s a waste. By the time I was done cutting, I had some great bookmark-sized pieces of sticker paper left over. You can draw on this, or write lists on them, or simply stick it to a thicker piece of paper for a great bookmark.

Note: that list of all the books in the journal, I made? I also made them in this way, but I left the space between them MUCH smaller, so that when I printed them, I could fold them into a booklet and staple them together, for convenience. So, adjust as needed, depending on what you’re doing with your pages.

STEP 7

Time to print! Download your new landscape A4 pages, just as you did before. Unzip the file, then head for your printer, because it’s time to print.

TIP: Print a test page first! Always. This way you can print on less-expensive ordinary printer paper, to test that your measurements are correct, without wasting your sticker paper. Print one page, cut it to size, check it against your notebook, and then either print the rest on the sticker paper and off you go…or re-measure, head back to Canva, and…head for Step 7.5.

Also, this is STICKER paper you’re working with. Not photo paper. If you have a printer app, like I do, make sure you change the paper setting to PLAIN. Guaranteed, if you print under the photo/glossy option, your black will bleed and looks disgusting, as well as feel like chalky ink when you touch it. I’ve made that mistake in the past, don’t do it. Also, if you leave a small gap at the edges, like in my images above, you won’t need to leave a margin on your print, but that’s totally up to you.

STEP 7.5 : For Sizing Emergencies Only!

If, like me, you measured slightly off, there’s a simple solution. Remember I told you to download your original pages to Canva and insert them into a landscape document? This is where that pays off.

OPTION 2: Select the first SINGLE page (not the two that take up your A4 page), then resize. Then repeat for every single page. This is easier with the double-pages, because the second box will line up clearly with the first resized box, making it quick work.

OPTION 1: Delete ALL pages, except 1. Select your Cut-Line box (and the image grid inside), and resize to the right size. Adjust anything out of sync, including your gap between the two grids.

Then, reinsert your downloaded PDF pages. Duplicate the page, insert the new pages, and it’s good to go. You can easily just drag-and-drop your original designs back into the boxes, and they’ll ALL be resized to the same size, with minimal effort or fuss. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have the paid version, Canva will resize for you.

STEP 8

Remember I mentioned printing, a minute ago? Now’s the time to take that HUGE pile of paper and make it into art! Or, you know, at least a book journal.

Get comfy, have a drink nearby, and a snack too, if you like. Put your feet up, get a sturdy tray or table, and begin cutting. Don’t get fancy, yet. (Unless you want to!) Just cut along the cut-lines of each page, until you have a pile of paper and a pile of rubbish.

STEP 9

Next, ditch the rubbish, and start sorting your piles of paper into order. Make a pile for lists, a pile for book bingo, a pile of images. Then, start arranging them.

I did this mostly on instinct. I knew I wanted the bookshelves first, then the lists, then the year end reviews. And that the K-Pop would go at the back of the book. So, I separated my piles into Book, Images or K-Pop related. Then, I sorted my bookshelves, added a page of images, added my lists, another page of images, my year end, more images, etc. And you get the point. I used the images to break-up the sections.

I meant that 1) I wasn’t clogging up all the lists and bookshelves together, in a heap, and 2) the images would work as a way to break-up the constant repetition of the shelves or lists. Dividing the spaces, while being pretty and pleasing to the eye. I kept the K-Pop pages for last, and flipped to the back of the notebook to begin inserting them in an order I liked.

When I added new pages, later on, I added things that could have been grouped with the original pages, if I’d been arranging by type of pages. But, because I chose a haphazard, random layout, it didn’t matter, and added some colour to otherwise list-full pages of black.

STEP 9.5

This is also a great time to check that your pages fit accurately, and if they don’t – trim them. This could be laborious if, like me, you are just a tiny bit off the edge/side of your page.

STEP 10

Peel that paper!

Now that you’ve got your arrangement sorted, you can start peeling off the backing and sticking your pages in. I recommend peeling a corner that is on the OUTSIDE of your page, not near the spine, folding back the backing paper about 1cm in from that edge, then lining up. This way, you have a non-sticky surface to hold onto, you’re not fully committed to sticking yet, and you can see if you’re straight before you press down. This way, you can let the backing paper slide along the page beneath, as you press down to make sure there are no bubbles or creases.

TIP: This paper does NOT peel back off. You have ONE shot at this. If you attempt to peel it off, you will take half the notebook page with it.

You will inevitably have creases, bubbles or a non-straight edge, especially near the spine of the book, but this really can’t be avoided. And, if you know a way to avoid it, let me know! In placing ALL of my pages, I had about 3 that creased near the spine, 2 were squint, and I had about 3 pages near the end that overlapped across the spine. I simply pressed my nail in until the paper slotted into the spine-gap between pages, or ripped into that space, to prevent it tearing when I’m opening/closing the book. Because the paper is the same/similar shade of white to the notebook, this meant these small errors were barely noticeable (except the creases!).

As I said, this is inevitable, don’t stress over it. To be honest, the fact I only had about 8 mistakes out of 100+ pages of the notebook was a huge victory, for me.

STEP 11

Keep going! It will take a long time, lots of rubbish from backing paper and extra trims along the way, and even more patience, for you to finish. It also depends how many pages you printed, and if you’re getting fancy with your cutting edges or adding drawings.

STEP 12

This is for that double-page bingo card and those bookshelves I talked about.

You wondered why I made two pages, right? Well, it works! I made them identical for a reason…so that I could take the blank book cover pages, trim around the shelving and book covers, and leave a thick edge of white on one side.

For the Book Bingo page, I chose to leave the outside edge, where it says Book Bingo. For the bookshelves, I chose the middle of the page, because there is more space. Now, what you do is – peel back an area of the backing paper, just enough for you to stick to the page, but allow a door-effect. I used the roughly-1cm space where it says Book Bingo. On the shelving picture, I kept to the 1cm, but used the blank space on the inside edge.

Cut that piece of backing paper off, but LEAVE THE REST. Attach that small, exposed piece of sticky paper to the edge, where you want it, then stick it down. Rinse and repeat with the other pieces.

It sounds more complicated than it is, and I’m not even sure I’m explaining it well. In reality, this is how it looks in my book.

As you can see from the top images, when I’ve completed a book on the bingo list, I just cut it out, leaving the book image underneath to shine through. And, no, the book bingo do NOT match up perfectly, because the original titles were on the blank book covers, and I moved them above the books on the version with the real covers, so the text could be seen clearly. That’s another live-and-learn moment.

Voila! Your notebook is now complete. Now, all you have to do is take some colouring pencils, stickers, washi tape, and…

Kidding! That’s all done for you, unless you want to add more. This is your book. Make it yours! I’ll be writing in names of books to those blank spines, soon enough, and maybe decorating with some coloured pencils, when those books are read.

For now, this project is done. Finished.

CONGRATULATIONS!

To celebrate, there’s a video on Pinterest of the final product, for my own Book Journal. For some reason, I couldn’t embed it here, but that’s probably me being weird.

In case you want a better view, I’ve included ONE of each TYPE of page I used in my finished book. I’ve shown them as they printed, not as they are in my book, so you can see them clearly.

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