Paper Planning

All things paper planning – whether it is a recommendation on paper planners, how we use our paper planners or the general love for paper planners – it’s here!

  • Hand Lettering in your Passion Planner

    Hand Lettering in your Passion Planner

    Hand lettering is everywhere. You can see it when you walk into Starbucks in the morning or peruse your favorite Michael’s aisle. There are always new classes and practice sheets popping up if you know where to look. Don’t be intimidated by social media and the beauty of hand lettering. You don’t have to spend long hours practicing and focus the art (unless of course, you want to elevate your lettering!) to enjoy a pretty handwritten layout in your planner.

    The best part about our Passion Planners is that they are our own! Unless you’re making a daily effort to learn to hand letter long-term, don’t spend countless hours watching videos just to feel like you can put a Tombow to the paper. Today, I took a faux calligraphy class and used ONLY the fine tip brush. It was at my local art store (support your community!) and it actually helped me gain some confidence and stop holding back with my lettering.

    Plan with Me | Week of August 12 – August 18

    [NOT affiliate links – just helpful!]
    Planner: Sunday Start Passion Planner Eco Classic


    Hand Lettering – What you NEED to Know

    Okay, so maybe I jumped the gun a little. There is one thing my instructor did say today that stuck with me: you can do whatever you prefer but there are some rules you need to follow to keep it in the faux calligraphy category. The main rule that is essential to remember is to keep your downstrokes thick and your upstrokes thin.

    I struggled a bit with translating this technique in my spread this week, but that’s the beauty of it. Even in spots that may not have been able to be thickened, I was able to add extra lines by going back over the letters and to emulate that hand lettering look. Of course, if I had chosen to do a larger piece of lettering, this would be much easier. Just remember: upstrokes are thin, downstrokes are thick. Keep this in mind and the next few sections will have you feeling 10 times more confident about a pen only layout.

    Another part of using hand lettering in your Passion Planner is having the right tools! You don’t have to drop cash to get fancy Tombows – but if you’d like to, don’t hesitate. The fine point of these pens was honestly completely unused for me before today. I spent that class completely surprised at how amazing this whole OTHER side of the brush pen felt when I was writing. It’s a thick stroke, yes – so compact users may struggle. However, if you don’t have Tombows or just aren’t a fan – use ANYTHING! No, seriously. Anything you’d like will benefit from these tips. Use a ballpoint pen, your favorite colored pencils, shoot – even crayons if that’s your thing. Okay, maybe crayons would be hard in the daily columns, but there is always the space of infinite possibility.

    Hand Letter with your own writing and start with pencil!

    Hopefully, you still learned cursive in school. I think I saw something about how it’s not being taught anymore but I will find that out when the time comes for me to help my child practice or I guess – teach them! Anyway, if you know cursive writing – you can hand letter. Isn’t that amazing? You have already learned the skills you need to hand letter your heart out. Granted, most of us may not use it as much anymore but the skills are still there. Muscle memory is a huge part of learning to hand letter like the pros and this is no different.

    Before you tackle your weekly spread with your markers – use a pencil. Write lightly and just use your own cursive to write headers like I did. It will help you keep consistency through your days and help give you a starting point when you go back with your markers. I received the pencil and eraser that I used in an Artsnacks box, but you can use just a trusty old No. 2 or Bic to do a “first draft” in a way. If you don’t like something, erase it. There are two things you’ll want to remember though. First, don’t press too hard or your paper will have indents from your pencil! Secondly, don’t be too critical and try to make it perfect. After all, the pencil is just a guideline.

    Now that the pencil is down – get to lettering!

    You have your “rough draft” once you have your pencil in there. Now, don’t stress! This part isn’t as hard as you imagine it to be. In fact, it should be much easier with that pencil there. There are a few things you’ll want to remember when you start getting that marker on the paper. Art is yours! Mistakes are natural when you’re learning. If you’re just trying some lettering out for the first time, don’t be too hard on yourself.

    Follow your guide and take rests! Since your guide is there, you do NOT have to have a continuous stroke like we were graded on with cursive. Take a break and relax your hand in the middle of the word… no one is going to mark you down. It can also help you get a fluid curve or better pivot on a letter when you’re writing too. Take the break!

    Now, this part you’ll notice in the video. If you’re looking to use a lighter colored marker or even a fine line pen, you may want to erase the pencil. I gave my pink marker a little test on a separate piece of paper to see if the pencil would show through the pink if I just drew right on top. Some markers may not have this issue and will erase the pencil ink underneath the marker or ink. So, it took me awhile to learn that putting some Tombow colors on top of pencil WILL make them darker. The pencil just doesn’t erase!

    So, I erased each day of the word ‘wedding’ as I went, so that way I could get a nice pink on there without it being muddled by the pencil. I approached it one by one so it wasn’t too hard for me to visualize where my “draft” was before I erased it. Also, you don’t have to erase it completely, you can just make it barely there and you won’t see it through the light colors.

    Add lines & boxes to keep it looking sleek

    As I have definitely said in my previous blog posts [EC kits and Functional Planning], I really prefer to make each day stand on its own – even if it’s exactly the same as the others. The best way to do this with a simple spread is to draw boxes. Of course, I have a terribly shaky hand so trying to do this on my own always gets very unruly. I swear by CLEAR plastic rulers. You can still see your planner through the ruler to help with lining up and the plastic helps with keeping the marker off the ruler.

    Don’t forget to wipe off the side after you use a dark color and switch to a lighter color. I was quite confused when my pink marker suddenly turned black and it took me a moment to realize it was picking it up from the ruler. Most of these clear rulers are found anywhere, but I really love having just the 6″ (ahh american!) ruler so it’s easily maneuvered over my spread. It’s even better that the Passion Planner has an hourly format, which makes it easier to break up your sections. I am not much of an hourly planner, as you’ve probably noticed, but I do love the opportunities that all these lines set up for consistency and easy to read sections in my planner.

    Lastly, the most important tie-in when it comes to hand lettering. Go back on your first marker headers and just thicken up those downstrokes. Like I mentioned, I struggled in this spread but it helped so much just going back over once to round out some wobbly lines and not so thick downstrokes. Plus. the Passion Planner just soaks up the marker ink – no bleed even with a second overlay! Now, you may bleed if you go a few times though. So, don’t overdo it if you’re worried about next/last week’s layout.

    See? Not all it seemed to be, huh?

    So, hopefully now you’re a little less fearful to just GO FOR IT with hand lettering. You really don’t have to be an instagram lettering hero to have beautiful spreads in your Passion Planner – you just have to know a little cursive. Happy lettering and live vividly, yo!


  • Functional Planning in your Passion Planner

    How Chelsea Brown Designs helps make functional planning easier

    Our planners at their core are books or pages of calendars that make up and guide our days through our lives. If you’re new to planning, this is most likely what motivated you to get started! Functional planning at its best can help you achieve your goals, remember important dates and birthdays, and help keep you focused.

    I’m going to be real with you for a second here… Chelsea Brown probably is considering a protection order because of my serious fangirl status. Her designs have made me more passionate about planning in general. They are extremely high quality stickers that truly embody all that Passion Planner is about – helping you meet your goals and having fun in the process. So, this is not an affiliate post and I don’t get any special perks for this. This is my 100% completely honest biased (yes, biased) review and recommendation for Chelsea Brown Designs.

    Plan with Me | Week of August 5 – August 11

    [NOT affiliate links – just helpful!]
    Planner: Sunday Start Passion Planner Eco Classic
    Date Cover Sticker: Planning by Shannon 2018 Date Cover Stickers
    All Other Stickers: Chelsea Brown Designs

    Functional Planning – What exactly is it?

    You’ll see a lot of lingo in the planner community that just takes a little time to figure out based on context or unabashedly just asking. Functional planning seems like what a planner is supposed to do, right? Well, if you’re new, you have a wondrous world of discovering all the different facets of planning. Mostly though, you’ll see functional used in opposition to decorative planning. Decorative planning is exactly what it sounds like! More artistic designs and decorations on our planners to fill the day with stickers, drawings, watercolor, anything you can think.

    Functional planning helps us keep focused with things like checkbox lists, reminders to pay bills, scheduling and cancelling appointments, household chores, and so on. Since I am an artist, I thought I would prefer decorative planning and art journaling. I have found that the more I use my planner for its purpose, the more I appreciate the beauty of the designs that Chelsea Brown provides to her customers.

    Chelsea Brown Designs – Functional Planning Stickers

    Alright, look, by now you’ve realized I am a huge fan of CBD. Please, let me tell you exactly why I have such a huge brand loyalty to this Etsy shop. Chelsea Brown has brought professional design into my planner. I have dabbled in graphic design for about 15 years off and on. I may be more of an artist than designer by title, but I can tell you that I know good design when I see it. Of course, I found this gem on Etsy like anyone else does – searching for Passion Planner stickers! That may not have been my exact search, but I will tell you that I found something that helped me take something I already loved and make it more tuned to WHO I am.

    My first order included timeline covers, time blocks, tabs, and bill pay boxes. They were all different colors and I’m honestly surprised I even made decisions on the color. I’m going to break down some must-haves and what I love for my planning style, but I am certain Chelsea Brown has it all for any functional planner looking to use their planner for… well, planning!

    1. Monthly Tabs

    Okay, this seems like an overall well-liked MUST HAVE for your planner. So, I’ve honestly never thought of a great way to do this prior to finding CBD tabs. They are available in every color and there are even foiled tabs. Whether you are a dated or undated planner, those of us (like me!) that tend to focus heavily on the weekly and not so much on the monthly calendar pages, could really learn to love tabs when you USE them. I am super guilty about not using my monthly pages, but making a conscious effort to go there first for anything that’s not in the current week has been a serious gamechanger.

    CBD’s beautiful and easy-to-apply tabs help me make it a much quicker flip. Did I say easy-to-apply? Oh yeah, the tabs themselves come with a ruler/guide on the side for you to place the tabs exactly where they need to be in your planner. Better yet, with the release of the calendar year 2019 Pros, there will be shaded sections for your tabs to make it even easier. Plus, CBD gives you the option to have them flush with your edge or stick out like normal. Just search ‘tabs’ in the shop and you’ll find them.

    2. Timeline Covers

    Have I mentioned that I love colors?! No? Well, I do. I prefer the full color timeline stickers because it helps me keep my days in sections. I sort of touched on this in the EC kit post (here) by explaining that it keeps me motivated to fill in my days. Your Passion Planner does the heavy lifting for you with the gray timelines, but CBD has a seriously HUGE selection of colors for you to choose from.

    If you like to keep it neutral, you can block off your sections with gray and black – or lift your favorite colors from your theme for the week and go wild. I use the full color because I’m rarely writing appointments in their time slots, but I do still love to keep the option open. This week, I used the hourly timeline stickers because I have more appointments than normal that I’d like to use the time slots to track.

    3. Starter Bundle

    Last but not least, the STARTER bundle!! Okay, so this might be cheating because it wraps all the best functional options in a neat little package for you to start using stickers. It includes time interval blocks, tons of icons, habit trackers, to-do lists and water trackers – the basics of functional planning! It’s truly the best way to get started to see which stickers you end up using the most and tailor your style of planning to what Chelsea Brown has up for grabs.

    So, now that I’ve gone over my favorites, get on over there and get you some stickers! Okay, seriously, I hate feeling salesy and over the top, but I can make my own stickers and I will  always choose these stickers to stock up on. Chelsea, please feel free to use one of my thousand orders to get my address for that protection order. 

    Live vividly, yo!