The New Journal: Leuchtturm1917 Review

“Details make all the difference.”

Leuchtturm 1917 Journal Review | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

New year, new agenda, and a new journal. This is always one of my favourite things. Unwrapping a new journal and getting to set all my hopes and dreams on the possibility of these blank pages.

I have been keeping a journal since I was 13 years old. I am currently finishing up Volume 27, a large, hard cover, lined Moleskine journal started on November 17, 2014 and which holds one of the most topsy-turvy years of my life. Keeping a journal is easy enough as long as you have some good paper and a decent pen. I bought a pack of Uni-Ball roller pens a while ago and have been working through them. They write very well and seem to last forever.

Volume 28 is something new. A soft cover, lined Leuchtturm1917 notebook. This is my first Leuchtturm notebook and I picked it up from DeSerres for about $20.00. It’s a little wider than the Moleskine notebooks and agendas but the height is the same. The cover is soft like my agendas and about the same thickness. It’s 121 pages, noted at the bottom right which is very convenient. It also has a table of contents at the front. It is black bound, with an elastic to keep it closed and a ribbon bookmark just like the Moleskines. So yes, it is new and different but it’s exactly the style I know and love.

I was hesitant to get another Moleskine again because they have so many pages and it takes me about a year to run through it. I was looking for something less permanent but I didn’t want to sacrifice on quality. I have tried the Moleskine Volants and Cahiers before, which I really love, but I didn’t want to rest on my laurels.

Moleskine Agenda | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I have been reading a lot about a weird trend called Bullet Journalling which is a style used by people who have entirely too much time on their hands. Basically they take a journal with a dotted page layout and then they take a pen and a ruler and mark it up to the high heavens. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it and it just seems chaotic to me. I think I have everything I need using my agenda and my journal in tandem, and I just don’t get why you would want to spend so much time creating and drawing your own layouts when journals and agendas, especially my favourite Moleskine agendas, already have such a good system of layouts: monthly and weekly pages plus they have lines on the right pages for lists and notes. Why re-invent the wheel?

And so, I have a new journal and a new agenda and all is right in the world. Here’s to Volume 28, and counting.


Dot Com Boom

I finally caved and bought!


For a long time on my About Me page, I had written “Maybe one day I’ll buy my own web domain and stop doing everything for free. But that day is not today.” Well, my friends, that day is today. Well this year really. I bit the bullet and bought and! Using my fantastic computer skills, I even re-directed to and I mapped my WordPress blog to! Does this make sense to you? It does to me! I owe it all to my many hours spent back in high school hacking websites to copy and modify their code.

I really do enjoy the structure and style of WordPress and I am happy to continue using their publishing platform. I used GoDaddy as a host because Diggnation brainwashed me many years ago. In addition to these new matters, I even updated my Theme to give it a mini face lift!

What’s in a Name?

This blog has been Paper Clips for so long. Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra. It just makes sense to me. It sounds and feels so familiar! I couldn’t bear to change it. I did run through many other possible names (I wanted to call it In Medias Res back in third year, though I couldn’t seem to make it work…) but I kept coming back to this one. That or simply calling it MAGGIE DE BARRA, which sounds ever more pretentious and narcissistic than owning a website that is simply your first and last name dot com. And so, I will continue using Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra as my go-to until another name strikes me, or I get a cease and desist order!

To Blogue or Not to Blogue

I think one reason why I waited for so long is because, in addition to being extremely clumsy, I’m really shy! I am. With minor online exhibitionist tendencies in the form of public tweets and private instagram photos, but at the heart of it, I am shy.

I remember reading somewhere: It’s not personal branding, it’s just living your life online. And yes, my generation is doing just that. Your online presence is a mural, and every tweet, photo, and post is another brush stroke.

I thought for a long time that if I could hide behind it meant that I was projecting to the world that I was not really serious, that I could stop at any time, and that I’m simply indulging an odd, online hobby. But, attaching my name, and throwing a few dollars consideration at it, that means I am proclaiming, loudly: Hello, world! This is really me and I am serious. I am still shy, but I’m working on it.


For a long time this website had been a “student life” blog, documenting my experiences as a college and university student between 2008-2012 (what a nice time capsule!). Since I am now a young, urban, working professional, it has really morphed into something totally unique. It is not a millennial blog, or a fashion+beauty blog, or a foodie blog, or a music blog. As much as I’d like it to be, it is not my dream Modern, Moderate Feminism Blog (#modfem). I write about my life and experiences and things that are interesting and important to me. I write a lot about Canada and Toronto because they are the centres of my universe.

One term that I have always loved is “hyper-local”. I came across this term when it was applied to a few Ottawa blogs back in university. They would cover all the local goings-on: restaurants, concerts, cafes, shops, and local politics. They weren’t exactly travel blogs, but they’d be worth checking out if you were going for a visit to learn all about the cool local spots.

And so, I think in 2015 I think I will try to write more about the people, places, and things I love, and to embrace the hyper-locality of it all!

The Joys of a New Journal

Full Disclosure: If we’ve ever spoken, I’ve written about you in my journal.


I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words…

I finished another journal. A pretty thing, embossed with Tudor Roses and gilt pages, purchased from a museum gift shop in Washington. It was bigger than what I’m used to, but it fit in my purse and was mostly discreet at coffee shops.

I had purchased the successor a few weeks ago. I like to keep the spare around in case I fall into a spell and run though the last pages faster than anticipated. Is there anything worse than having a mind raging with things to write and no journal nearby? Or maybe having a notebook, but no good pens?

I have found that buying a new journal before the old one is finished is a bit like declaring the heir before the reigning monarch has died. Your hopes and dreams turn to the novelty. In the past, I’ve found myself wasting pages full of nonsense just so I can move onto the next.

I have been keeping a journal since December 21, 2001. Nearly 13 years! Almost half of my life!! Save for a few months here and there, I have mostly recorded every day of those 13 years in one way or another. Journaling is a tool that I use to achieve all the “selfs” I was talking about.

I keep a diligent agenda, the Moleskin Weekly Notebook has been my favourite for the past 6 years or so, where I keep a detailed record of the day-to-day goings on: my work hours, funny things that happen throughout the day, what I make for dinner, noting mood extremes either happy or sad, time spent with friends and family, and my gym schedule. Basically, all the facts.

This may seem excessive to some, but I’ve been doing it for so long it is just a part of who I am: constantly taking notes, making plans, scheduling ahead. If I don’t get through my thoughts as I write in my journal during the day, once a week or so, usually on Sunday, I’ll pull out my agenda and transfer in the details of the week with expanded thoughts or comments. I had taken to calling it my double journal system- the agenda and journal working in tandem. Using these two books, I can basically track every day of the last 5-6 years in great detail.

I have a big box stuffed with my old journals. Too many to count now. This box would be the first thing I grab in a fire. It is my life’s work, my legacy, and my greatest accomplishment, thus far. Self-indulgent and narcissistic, maybe. Therapeutic, calming, and essential for good spirits, definitely.

This is how I keep track of my feelings, loves, dreams, fears, big thoughts, and plans. It is one of my dearest friends. Within those pages I can be honest about everything I’m thinking and feeling. I don’t hold anything back. I have thoughts and feelings for a reason, and I think it would be a disservice to suppress them, so I explore them fully.

Logistically, the best time for me to write is at lunch. With a coffee, and a good pen, sometimes earplugs, I can get about 30 minutes in during the day. Sometimes over the weekend I’ll have a marathon session and hammer out pages for hours. Sometimes I’ll take breaks… circling back to tackle an issue or a tricky problem.

If I don’t write for a few days, and I have my agenda building up a list of bullet points to address, I get stressed. I imagine it’s like being an addict, I actually crave writing in my journal. Sometimes, when I purposely avoid writing, it’s because I have an issue that I’m trying to avoid. I don’t want to write because I know I’ll have to confront it. Those are usually the times when I need to write the most.

My greatest wish would be to one day publish these journals. I see the paradox here. While, yes, I am writing for myself, I do write with the understanding that one day these may be read by others. Millions of others? Perhaps. When Anne Frank heard on the radio that journals and letters were being collected for the historical record, she began to edit her work and started to revise for the purpose of publishing. She was writing on a small-scale, but with the bigger picture in mind.

The Joys of a New Journal | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

While I would love it if the things I wrote entertained or inspired people, I don’t know if anyone but myself would find it relevant or worthwhile. I’m sure it will need to be many years from now to soften the blow to my friends and family. FULL DISCLOSURE: If we’ve ever spoken, I’ve written about you in my journal. Some more than others.

I do have more to say on my favourite topic, but with this, I’ll let you go. Wishing you many happy hours of self-exploration and insight through journal writing.

Remember, the unexamined life is not worth living!

The Joys of a New Journal first appeared on Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra.


I should be doing homework.

NaNoWriMoI just signed up to take part in National Novel Writing Month. Basically you have 30 days to write a 50,000 word novel. Nobody has to see it, nobody has to read it, you just have to write it!

I remember hearing about this in highschool, and now I’m finally going to do it. Now I just have to figure out how to schedule in an extra 1,500+ words everyday for the next month, on top of school stuff and real life.

Update 12/19/09:
What a failure. I wrote 1,228 words. And they were not very good words at that. Between my feature articles and essays due in November, this project was doomed from the start. Poor thing. Not a problem though. There is always next year. There is always any time of the day for writing, now that I think about it. I’m not confined to an online competition. Here’s to another 1,228+ words.