Thank you to everyone for being patient as I tried to figure out the best way to answer all the questions about the conference journals. I didn't realize there would be such interest in my method, although I would hardly call it a method. At this point it is still a work in progress, a lovely work, but still being refined. If there is something I missed please feel free to email me, I tried to be thorough, but I'm sure I missed something.
Also this is a very long post, my apologies in advance, but I have tried to categorize the answers with bold headers so you can find the answers easily.
I started out by using my favorite Moleskine notebooks (found here and here), but found that with my new sketchnote study method the pages could not handle all the ink that I was adding. You can see how the ink was bleeding through the paper.
On this particular journal I ended up gluing in more paper to help with the bleeding issue. As you can see it more than doubled the thickness and the spine is still holding up beautifully. Another reason they are my favorite journal. I didn't love the orange cover as I was working with it, but it was my first conference journal and I had put so much love in it I will leave it. I have and will continue to purchase dark over journals in the future.
I decided I wanted to try a journal with a heavier paper weight. I tried the Strathmore 400 series , for the April 2012 conference, and found that I could not go front to back with the talks as the 60 lb paper would not hold that much ink. Not a big problem with this journal because there was plenty of paper for all the talks.
There are usually 37 for all of General Conference, including the Priesthood and women's auxiliary sessions. Just a side note to keep in mind when purchasing a journal.
So for the April 2013 conference journal I am using a Strathmore 500 series journal. At 90lb weight has been able to accommodate all the ink and the watercolor that I have been adding. The only drawback is there is not enough paper to accommodate a two page spread and I find I need the space to record all that I want to say or draw.
This is my April cover page. I didn't pay attention to the pen I was using and once I started adding the watercolor the thick black ink started to bleed all over and make a mess. It was a happy accident that allowed me to play with some other mediums to fix the banner. I scanned the cover page in and removed that date if it's something you want to use.
akimball_conference_art1 (jpg) with white border
You can find October's cover page and download here.
The journal construction on both Strathmores has been good and seem to be holding up well for the additional pages I have added. I also prefer a hardbound type book rather than a spiral. Perhaps it's because I'm left handed. I do like that I can store them more easily and after all the years in the scrapbooking industry and storing the mini albums, it just a personal preference.
There is actually no significance to the tabs unfortunately. When I took the pictures I was a Relief Society instructor teaching the "Teachings for Our Times" lesson each month and I had been assigned two talks for each week I taught. I added matching tabs for the two lessons so I could find them quickly as I moved from one talk and back to the other. So the red tabs were for February, the blue for March, etc.
I love pens and certainly have my favorites for the different paper types and you can read more about the reviews here and here. I have pens and pencils in two main places at home, the office where the computers are and in the studio where most of my art and fabric supplies are kept. I study in both places, but usually in the office where most of the books are. I also keep two travel holders that can slip into a bag or move from room to room. For me I have found this to be essential with my children as I'm never sure where I will be and if I have a few minutes to draw or write down an impression.
My favorite scripture pens are Staedlter Triplus Poruous Point Pens, because they are archival and don't bleed as much on the thin scripture paper. I use a considerable amount of pen pressure when I write so I'm sure if I was more careful they wouldn't bleed at all. I use Prismacolor colored pencils, primarily because I love the color range and I had them here at home.
I hesitated posting the color code that I use while marking my scriptures and general conference issues, primarily because color is such a personal thing and in the past I have used up to twenty colors or shades as I study. It has worked for me and is definitely not for everyone so please do not feel overwhelmed or that you have to study like I do. You need to to do what feels good and comfortable for you otherwise you won't study and that is really the key.
I have found over the years that I have been able to streamline to a dozen colors and decided it was a good time to make a new color list. I am providing my completed list with the colors and topics I use for each color. I have been using these same colors for years and years. I rarely have to look at the key, it works for me and makes sense to my brain. You are welcome to use my completed list if you would like, however I would encourage you to find or create you own list and colors. Make it personal to your likes and tastes.
Brown represents work, and repentance and those themes associated with work. Brown reminds me of the dirt and the dirt of work.
Red is for Christ, God, and salvation. It's my favorite color so it would naturally be for Christ, although there could be some argument that it is for the atoning blood.
I could go on and on about color and it's meaning and how it makes you feel. Perhaps I will do that for another post.
I have provided a blank version so you can personalize your own color code. The files are in jpg and pdf formats for your convenience. The numbers at the end of the file indicate how many are on each page.
5. PERSONAL NOTES
In both my scriptures and my conference Ensigns I jot down revelation that I receive as I'm studying, random thoughts, and often a brief word or two that will help me remember an experience I have had. There is no rhyme or reason for what I write in the Ensign or what I write in the journal. I usually keep the magazine tucked inside the journal so they are always together that way I can reference both if I need to.
Keeping the color code the same in both the scriptures and my conference editions helps me find things quickly. I usually write the note in the same color just for consistency. I vary the line width, style (straight vs. squiggly), and pencil combination to help find things. This will probably not work for everyone, but I'm highly visual and color is essential for my memory and retention.
6. MY STUDY METHOD
When I am listening to the original conference broadcast, or trying to listen as the case may be with little people, I am trying to just feel the spirit and hear those things that I need to hear. I am usually doing a bit of applique or a simple drawing/painting. I have found that it keeps me relaxed and my mind open with all the chaos that sometimes happens in our home. We do teach our children to sit reverently, but they have free agency and sometimes reverence is not what they choose.
I keep a piece of paper where I can jot down thoughts and impressions during the meetings. The thoughts sometimes have nothing to do with the message being presented, I am just actively listening and I can hear the things the Lord is saying.
Pages that I have inserted to the conference journal.
After I get the conference edition of the Ensign is when the serious study begins. I am getting better at studying while my children are around, but I still prefer the early morning hours when the house is quiet. I read the talk and underline or write impressions. I will then listen to the conference talk a few more times as a create a visual record of what I am learning (or sketchnote).
This process happens over a few days or even a week. I really try to study and focus on what the Lord would like to teach me and have the words become part of me so I rarely have a set time frame. It can also takes a long time to complete a talk, because I get sidetracked studying other things along the way.
Here is a before and after photo of a talk so you can see the sketchnote process.
I post the completed sketches at SIMPLE TESTIMONY, but it has clearly been a while since I have photographed or scanned anything. Sorry. I need to get on that.
7. RANDOM THOUGHTS
I don't study chronologically. I might study a talk from 1999 and then go back to 2013. I might study a talk from the priesthood session and then to a talk from the Saturday morning session. My study happens based on feelings or impressions, however I do take notes and keep everything in chronological order. So all my April 2013 talks are in the same place and in the same order they were presented. October 2102 has it's own journal, etc. It makes for quite a few journals in my cupboard, but this is what works for me.
I currently do not have one completed conference journal, but then that is not why I keep these records so I'm okay with it. I do date everything I work on just to have a reference of what might have been happening at that point in my life.
If you work chronologically then perfect start at the beginning and go for it. If you want to keep your study of the various years in place, wonderful. It's important to find what works for you and how you learn and retain.
If you have additional questions please feel free to email me or comment. I can amend this post as needed and of course I will email you back.
I'm excited for conference tomorrow!