It’s back to school time. You know what that means?? I will buy so many unnecessary markers, pens, and stationary shit from Target because I love school supplies! Who’s with me? Raise your hand if you will buy all the school supplies whether or not you’re actually in school at the moment.
I don’t know where this obsession with pens and paper came from, but as a kid I collected glitter pens, glow-in-the-dark pens, Tweety bird stationary, fun animal pencils and BFF notebooks. Nothing has changed except that the things I want are more grown-up and probably in a neutral color like black.
I asked the team if they were into school supplies as much as I am and yes, some of them are! Here are the Autostraddle team’s favorite pens, pencils, markers, notebooks, highlighters, and more!
What are your favorites? Tell us about your school supplies feelings in the comments.
Yvonne, Senior Editor
I use a blank extra large Moleskine notebook to scribble notes and write out my ideas and plans for the week. I don’t know how, but I’ve accumulated a lot of pens and skinny markers, in various colors, over the years and they sit in a tin can on my desk. But it was time to replace them with new writing utensils and that’s why I bought these Bullet Journal Planner Pens. Come one they’re $5.99 for 18 colors! Or you can get 36 colors for $9.99 which has a bunch of 5 star reviews! I feel like the Rainbow Sponge lady just getting excited about all the colors. I like that they’re a fine tip marker that doesn’t bleed through the page but still has a lot of pigment.
And lately I’ve been wanting a Field Notes Reporter’s Notebook because it’s so pretty! The last time I went out to report on a story, I used a writing pad meant for grocery lists so the pages tear off easily so it was not practical. This notebook is practical and kills in the design.
You might be thinking a journal stencil is useless but I’ll tell you what! They’re super helpful for drawing boxes and shapes if you’re not a freaking artist. Like I said before, I have a free-for-all notebook and it’s just blank and the possibilities are endless so sometimes I use the stencil to organize the chaos. They’re super handy, I highly recommend it!
Riese, Editor in ChiefThere is only one type of pen I can use for anything ever and it’s that Pilot pen. Sometimes people try to get me to write with other pens and I’m like, how dare you? I switch the kind of notebooks I use a lot, but I’m really into the one I have now. It’s not too big, it’s not too small, it’s spiral bound (pages always come out of the other kind) and it looks cute.
Valerie Anne, Staff WriterI used to love, love, love buying fresh, new notebooks every year. A blank book full of opportunities. And I’d always buy however many notebooks I needed for school, plus a book I intended to be my journal. Flash forward to me, many years post-school, and I now have dozens of empty or mostly-empty notebooks strewn about my apartment. So now I have turned my attention to writing implements I will totally and definitely use to write in those empty notebooks someday. I love a clean, inky black pen. I also have a ton of colors from when I tried bullet journaling for like one full minute. My favorites at the moment are these Inkjoy pens that have SHADES and are a nice, smooth time.
Heather Hogan, Senior EditorNot too very long ago I got a fountain pen as a gift and it has changed my life! I’ve always been terrible at writing but now that I have a few fancy pens on my desk, I have turned into a prolific writer of things that require ink! I journal every day! I send letters and cards to people in the mail! My planner is legible and constantly up to date! Fountain pens really do write completely differently than other pens, and I only have entry level ones; I can’t imagine what a gold nib pen would write like. I hold the pen correctly (and not like my hand is a cartoon claw) now, I keep it clean, I change the ink every week. I treat it better than I ever treated those little Tamagotchi keychains of my youth, that’s for sure. This Lamy Safari is basically everyone’s favorite starter pen and you can get it in a variety of nib sizes and colors. Black Swan in Australian Rose is one of my favorite Noodler’s inks (is it purple? is it blue? is it black? is it pink? yes!) but you can get ink in literally any color (with different types of sheens!); Noodler’s is just the most economical brand. If you’re going to write with a fountain pen, it’s worth it to invest in some thicker, slicker paper like this Rhodia notepad, which I use for my daily journal. And finally, I have tried every planner ever made, and nothing comes close to the Passion Planner. It’s everything you need to keep your life on track in all the areas you want to improve and maintain.
Rachel, Managing EditorAlthough I have a Passion Planner and do love it, especially for noting time-specific things like appointments or social plans, I need a dedicated Notebook for dumping and organizing all the other things going on in my brain — meal plans for the week, brainstorming for meetings, making lists, taking notes during calls, making other, different lists. For a while I was trying to “bullet journal,” which is I think what this notebook is in part designed for, but I’ve transitioned to a more laissez-faire and organic “writing stuff down and flipping to finding it later if I need it” approach and can vouch that this notebook is also perfect for that.
For writing in it and writing all other things, the only pen in my heart is the Pilot G2 .38 mm, which makes lines so delicate and clean that looking at my notes makes me feel like how I imagine Gwyneth Paltrow does after she’s spooned some cilantro oil that an endangered snow owl has made eye contact with onto a plate.
Carrie, Staff WriterAbout a year ago I started writing down my daily to-do lists in a Moleskine Valant to try and calm my mind. And it worked! Best review I can give! Initially I chose this notebook for the job because it’s what I had around, but it’s proven a very apt selection. There’s nothing fancy about it unless you count the fun cover colors, which incidentally make it easy to find in a crowded bag (important for me). The size is ideal for my purposes: big enough to keep track of but slim enough to fit inside basically any carrier that isn’t a pants pocket. I like how the cover softens even more with time, too. I have this thing with me whenever there is work afoot. By now it provides a visual record of my achievements, which I very much enjoy.
I’m sure there are fancier highlighters out there but these Sharpie ones have lasted forever so I’m a de facto loyalist now. Whenever I really don’t want to do something that I know needs to get done, I’ll write out the steps and then make them all colorful with these, which tricks my brain into thinking we’re having fun. Any office supply that curbs my procrastination is a winner in my (note)book. (Sorry).
Al(aina), Staff WriterI’ve been in school almost every year since I was four, and I’ve loved shopping for school supplies ever since. I’m starting to feel very old and set in my ways though because this year I didn’t buy anything new. These six things are my go-tos no matter what I’m doing in class. I exclusively write with black Pilot G2 ultra fine pens (because I, myself, am ultra fine) and love nothing more than a fresh pack of twelve shiny new clicky bois. I’ve also been using Moleskine notebooks since I started acting school — I like being able to line things up and look at years and years of the exact same thing! Familiarity is comforting. I recently downsized from the extra large notebooks to large notebooks, primarily because the way I take notes in grad school less “get all the important information from the professor” and more “journal about how what I’m reading applies to my research”. I use poster markers with my Passion Planner when I need to block out large chunks of time. They don’t bleed like Sharpies, but they’re more visible than highlighters; 10/10 would recommend. I got a refill on printer ink this year because somehow I have spent almost $200 on printing at school every year in the past, and I’d love to keep $200 for myself! I use lined Post-it notes because I’m constantly making lists and the larger size is more practical and less wasteful, I think. And finally, no school year can begin without a new fidget cube. It’s perfect for long lectures, for settling my mind during a writing activity, or for keeping me focused during a seminar class. Everyone should get one, they’re perfect.
Alexis, Staff WriterI come from a family of teachers and also just nerdy people in general so back to school supplies? ARE. MY. SHIT. So uni-ball is my pen of choice cause my mom and I love “inky” pens but I only like those for the subjects I care about, so for the other subjects I’d use Paper Mate Write Bros cause it let’s me be messier. I didn’t add notebooks because honestly as long as there’s paper in it, I’m gonna use it. But I know you’re also looking at me like, why are pastels on this list? Especially since I cannot draw my way out of a paper bag and the answer is this: You gotta buy your serious supplies and your sanity supplies. Pens, notebooks = serious. Pastels = sanity. Because sometimes, after you do all that important work all day, you just wanna play in some chalk and have your hands come up in pretty colors and honestly if that’s not therapeutic and striking the perfect work/play balance, I don’t know what is.
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