The Organized Writer: My Quo Vadis Collection

by Jeff Abbott on March 31, 2009

After interviewing me on their blog, and after I’d mentioned how much I love Clairefontaine notebooks, the wonderful people at the Quo Vadis/Exaclair blog offered me a chance to test-drive any of their planners. I wasn’t entirely happy with my current Filofax setup (not enough room to write) and I asked them if they’d send me a Journal 21 planner. Not only did they do that, they included a bunch of bonus items as well.

I’m not turning this blog into a product review site, but I liked all four products and wanted to share my impressions.

First, the Journal 21 planner
Journal21.jpg
It’s a day-view planner, but also includes pages for semi-annual and monthly planning. I love this: it gives me a long-term view of my year, as well as giving me space to fill up each day with notes, to-dos, impressions, what have you. With multiple writing projects going, I need to have a command of my time, while at the same time not feeling like I’m overscheduled (that is a creativity killer). This planner works the way I think. The paper is superb. It lays flat, mostly, and is nice and compact while giving me the room I need to write and plan. It doesn’t include a ribbon to mark your place, but you can tear off the perforated corner of the page so you can turn right to today’s date. And it’s bound, which has become a big deal for me. My Filofax pages are loose, and you have to buy a binder for them. If I fitted out the Filofax with everything in the Journal 21, it would cost much more. When the year is done, I can just slip the Journal 21 out of its nice black cover (the one they sent me is a Black Club cover, slightly pebbled, very nice) and put it on the shelf, and slip the new one inside. I really like this planner. It fits my needs perfectly, and I’ll be using a Journal 21 again next year. Thank you Exaclair folks for sending this to me, it’s really a terrific product.
They also included a lined Rhodia notepad
Rhodia.jpg
I’ve used Rhodia notepads before, but never the lined one. The paper, as with all Quo Vadia/Exaclair products, is great, and I like the sturdiness of the pad. It’s my phone message pad now in my office or if I just need to scribble a note outside of one of my project notebooks. The bright orange means it’s easy to find on my sometimes mess of a desk.
Also included was a Habana notebook
Habana.jpg
At first looks like a Moleskine notebook, except slightly larger. Yes, it does have the back pocket and the elastic band. But the paper is, again, a real difference. Since my favorite Clairefontaines seem to be out of stock (I have an order for several that is now weeks old) I’m using the Habana as a project notebook for the new film project. I spent two days brainstorming with the film’s producer about the plot and the Habana got a workout. It’s a sharp-looking journal and I like it a lot. 
Finally, the Exacompta Basics journal
Exacompta.jpg
The pages are lined, and the lines are a bit thick, so it wasn’t quite right for a project notebook, but that’s just me. The pages are gilded and I felt a bit funny using something so fancy for ordinary work. But I got over that. So I’m using it for a catch-all: a master list of to-dos and project ideas, and for more detailed notes on. The cover is a harder cardboard, but tough and resilient, and it includes a ribbon to keep your place. The pages are sewn. Really nicely done.
If you like fountain pens, the paper in all these pads/journals holds ink very well.
I’m not a professional reviewer, but I have opinions about the tools I use. These are terrific products from a terrific company.

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