Are you saving your nice notebooks for later? Learn why you should stop it.

Published by Nela Dunato on in Mindset, Sketchbook, Tips for creatives

Are you saving your "nice" notebooks for later? Learn why you should stop it.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money. Both of my parents grew up in the country, in a household where their parents and grandparents lived exclusively from farming and fishing. My grandma taught me the importance of saving new things for a special occasion. She even had a saying about it that I still remember, albeit with some bitterness because I no longer buy it.

We live in a different world now. We can have access to new things every day. Most of us don’t have to walk around in second hand clothes — actually, even “second hand” is turned into a special experience where you go scavenging for rare vintage jewels.

When I started getting nice stationery & fountain pens for birthdays, she warned me that I should not “play” with them, but keep them safe for when I was older. She didn’t want me to waste all that fancy stuff when I was “too little to appreciate it”, and I internalized this story: I don’t deserve nice things now. I need to be better (more mature, smarter, more skilled) in order to deserve them.

As a result of this, I never used those small printed notepads and Parker pens. (Ironically, last time I was in my old room I couldn’t even find them. And I so wanted to put those notepads with puppies & floral patterns to use!)

So why am I telling you this story?

I’ve been working on my “money blocks” for a while now. For those of you who haven’t heard of the term before, money blocks are limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors that prevent you from earning more money. Everyone has them, and they often stem from experiences in your childhood.

I’m uncovering new ones every single day. Right now I’m experiencing clients dragging their feet with projects and late payments, and I wanted to know why.

Today as I was doing my daily meditation and clearing practice, I was examining the idea of enjoying wealth. I was deep inside the visualization, eating shrimps, drinking fancy cocktails (because I have less resistance to food than other things), and then I imagined buying a bunch of new sketchbooks at the art store… and then it hit me.

I already had a bunch of fancy sketchbooks.

No shrimps, no cocktails, no houses or BMWs, but the sketchbooks were there.

My nice Canson & Derwent sketcbooks
Yep, totally not lying about having super nice sketchbooks: Behold Canson ArtBook Mix Media, Canson ArtBook Illustration, some thin Derwent sketchbook with super smooth paper and Canson ArtBook 180. (Affiliate links)

All of these lovely, unused sketchbooks I received as a gift. Some from friends, and several I won in a contest held by Canson. They’re absolutely lovely and perfect for my work, but I don’t use them. Why?

Because I’m keeping them for my “better drawings”, when I’m “more skilled” and have “better ideas” on what to do with them. It would be a shame to waste them now, wouldn’t it?

Do you see the problem here?

I was pushing one of the very real manifestations of abundance away — a prize that I got for free — because I felt like I didn’t deserve it yet.

To people that don’t have a “thing” for stationery, this might seem very silly. But to me, these things represented luxury since I was 6 years old. (Yes, I was a little nerd from the beginning, and books and office tools were always more interesting to me than dolls.)

Once I realized what I was doing, I did clearing work on this belief and replaced it with a positive one:

I deserve to enjoy nice things NOW. [Tweet this!]

To celebrate this accomplishment, I created this affirmation poster in the beautiful Canson mixed media sketchbook:

I deserve to enjoy nice things NOW

Off to you

  • How are you proving to yourself that you don’t deserve nice things in your life?
  • How are you pushing abundance away, thinking “not yet”?
  • What are you saving for later?
  • What can you do today to feel like a superstar artist that you really are?

Let me know in the comments, and then go do it!

P.S. Do you need some ideas on why and how to best use your sketchbook? Read my top sketchbook tips here!


Some blog articles contain affiliate links to products on Amazon. I’ll get paid a few cents if you buy something using my link, and there’s no extra charge to you.

13 responses to “Are you saving your nice notebooks for later? Learn why you should stop it.”

  1. That is so me lol I always saved the best sketchbooks and notebooks for “university” and for better things that was until I moved to Canada haha and got to see better brands XD and started saying the same “It is time to use nice things nowww”.

  2. Kristina, hah interesting how there’s always some kind of milestone when you’ll be ready! :D
    I hope you’re finally putting them to use now! :)

  3. Love your affirmation page, Nela.

    I found a curious way around my sketchbook block: I bought a spiral binder and I make my own of random papers I like. Somehow the labour of love that goes into making the book makes me feel more deserving of using it. I also never use the pages in order so I get ovet my block of it having to do a perfect drawing at the beginning of the book. Since doing this, I find I’m much more relaxed about using bought sketch books as well :)

  4. Thank you, Cherry!
    That’s an awesome way to sidestep this block, and it’s great that it has transferred on using new ones as well! :)

    I mentioned in my earlier post on sketchbooks that if you’re having a hard time drawing on the first blank page, you should just skip it and draw on the second one. I certainly did that as well :)

  5. I can SO relate to this post, Nela! Your ability to articulate these subtle but powerful hidden messages hidden in our attitudes is SO helpful & refreshing. Thank You for sharing!! xx

  6. @Korana: Thanks dear, and I’m so happy to see you around here! :)
    That’s a very interesting observation. Yes, it boils down to deserving. And you know about my issues with that… :)
    I hope will have a chance to talk about that, and other things, very soon.

    I’m sooo glad to hear that, yay! :D

    @Consu: Thank you so much, I’m so glad you think so! :)
    If you like it so much, I will definitely continue to share posts like this :)

  7. I was lucky to be raised by parents and grandparents that said to enjoy the things I have. Use your special things everyday. to save up for things you want and enjoy them when you get them. I have been like this all my life. I have had huge commitments like mortgages but still would buy special things in the meantime even if only small. I learnt the lesson early on about people who saved things for special occasions and the occasion never came. xxsusanJOY

  8. Susan JOY, I’m so glad to hear about your story. I wish there were more people like your parents and grandparents who taught their children about enjoying in the moment.

  9. Nela – I know what you mean! Something learned unconsciously so early in childhood sets a pattern that is difficult to change! Getting to the stage in my art where I would not be subconsciously constrained has been difficult. I always felt guilty about not using paint economically, about ‘wasting’ supplies, like expensive water colour paper. Where did this come from? My parents grew up in the Great Depression and passed on all these values. I always said, once I could afford it, I would buy the roll of oil primed canvas, and expensive brushes and super expensive oil paints from Europe, and challange myself to making full scale figurative work. But only after I’d mastered faces, or hands or feet on a small scale. Or after I’d made enough money. I’ve got lots of money now, and have worked on my craft for years, but still haven’t rented the studio space and taken the leap. Full scale figure painting is expensive and time consuming and physically demanding, so it doesn’t help that a little voice in the back of my head keeps whispering that all this effort is not worth it, just keep doing the reasonable manageable stuff that people like…

  10. Sean, this inner dialogue you shared sounds so familiar!
    And it’s always about “I just have to do this thing first”, but when you do, it’s still not enough proof that you deserve it, now there’s some other reason why you’re not permitted to do it.

    Art is a very expensive hobby/profession, that’s for sure. But we’d spend that money on something else anyway? Why can’t it be on wonderful things that bring us so much joy?

    Our parents really did a number on us, with the best of intentions… :)

  11. I stumbled upon your post when I was Googling on having nice notebooks and keeping them for later use. OMG, this post hit me. I can relate to this post so much that I was like “yes! OMG, that’s so me!” when I was reading through. Thanks for opening up my mind. I’m gonna start telling myself “I deserve to enjoy nice things now” more often. *now, it’s time for me to check all the nice notebooks I have in shelf for years*

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