The benefits of having a stationery obsession: why Stationeryphilia is good for you
14TH SEPTEMBER 2023
Obsessed with stationery? Me too. Discover how this can actually be a very good thing indeed...
Why women in particular love stationery
Remember the sheer joy of getting your first September pencil case or that highly prized smelly rubber collection? I do. Vividly. And my stationery addiction has potentially quadrupled since then. Whether it’s a beautifully embossed leather notebook or the perfect planner (see my Holly's stationery picks for temptation), I don’t mind confessing that my crush runs deep. Yet buying stationery for oneself in adulthood is often a guilty secret. It’s proof that you’re inflicted with a requirement to not only write lists, but also to write lists on particular types of paper, with specific pens that roll exactly the right way across the page and… it’s making my heart beat wildly already. But why?
I think it’s partly because, as women, we have to deal with The Triple Shift of paid work, unpaid work and emotional work in order to keep it all just ticking over. And the reimbursement for all this unjustified, time-consuming, often invisible labour, is a new goddamned notebook. It’s cheap (compared to say, a fair salary...), gives a sense of control and offers us the opportunity to make sense of — or produce miracles out of — life. So I’m hereby declaring buying stationery a guilt-free zone.
What do you call a person obsessed with stationery?
Many years ago at the beginning of Holly & Co, we were talking about language and how we need a word for the joy of ticking something off the list (we settled on ‘tickulation’). Or when you succumb to the office treats, you have a ‘snaccident’. Well ‘stationeryphilia’ is what we named our stationery addiction. We especially love that it’s got ‘feel ya’ in the middle because it is a true feeling for stationery isn’t it? It’s a passion. I know that ‘papyrophiliac’ is the formal word for paper lovers but for many, it goes beyond that. The good news is that being stationery obsessed is actually good for you. The world’s greatest ideas often start with a line of ink on a piece of paper, and so pens, pads and other desk accessories can help you achieve the extraordinary, including:
- Being organised. Boosting productivity and efficiency, and giving you a sense of control (especially when you file all your greetings cards, for example!).
- Being mindful. Experiencing the joy of collecting stationery and providing a digital detox. It’s wonderfully tactile somehow and helps us be present.
- Being creative. The blank page. Infinite possibilities. Yours to do with what you will. Fresh, unsoiled pads and pens represent potential and aid self-expression (I’m tingling again).
- Being nostalgic. Sharing familiar ‘back to school’ vibes and the thrill of a new term.
- Being connected. Showing who you are and sharing a love of stationery with fellow stationery enthusiasts.
How much stationery is too much? No amount — stationery addicts unite!
In my (beautiful) book, there is no such thing as having too much stationery. And I believe every woman should have a space in her life where she keeps it all, slightly like a shrine to the art of organisation. I have a stationery cupboard now where I keep the notebooks people have kindly given me as they know I am afflicted with stationeryphilia (though it is a pleasant affliction to be fair). I line them all up in size and colour, and when I start a new project, I get a fresh notepad out. I even pimp these notebooks so if I find great stickers or patches (Frida, googly eyes, quotes — you name it), I keep them aside and stick them on when the time’s right.
Then there’s kind of a ceremony almost, as if I’m about to enter the warzone of a new to-do list, and my notepad and pen are my armour. They give a sense of control in a world where most of us don’t have much, and where what we do is never enough. Recently, I was talking with my trainer who was giving herself grief about something she hadn’t achieved and so I said, “Did you ever think yesterday, about what you DID achieve?” and she said, “No.” And we laughed. We need to remember we’ve earned our right to lovely stationery. And if a little stationeryphilia helps us get shit done, let’s bloody well embrace it. Good luck!