To Ruler…Or Not To Ruler…

I have always had shaky hands. I blame it on being a smoker for 10 years (I know! I was young and in desperate need of “bad girl” status!) but I’m certain my 5 cups/day coffee habit doesn’t help either. I just do not – under any circumstances – have a steady hand.

But I like using the dotted pages of the LT1917 because – visually – I like MY lines being the only lines on the page. And the dots give me a basic guide to draw them myself. HOWEVER…even with the dots, my unsteady hand is far from perfect.


And most of the time I’m okay with this. BUT HOLY CRAP…there are some beautiful lines in bullet journals all over instagram. I know some who swear they don’t use a ruler/straight edge but many say they do and it’s required because they HAVE to have straight lines and I’m torn because their pages look SO VERY PRETTY! Do I want to be like that? Should I use a ruler?

I have some serious line-envy.

But here’s the thing about bullet journaling – perfection can be a hurdle to jump over and I had to learn early on that striving for perfection kept me from using the bullet journal. If I focused on perfect spreads and layouts, I didn’t pick it up as often…I didn’t use it as often. And I want it to be an extension of my brain, I want to use it often and not be shunned by an inability to be perfect.

So I decided to not start using a ruler. I know it would make my pages prettier, but it would then put me where I was focusing again on perfection and I like where I’m at now with my bullet journal. I do spend some time on some of spreads to make them pretty, but they’re never perfect. And I never spend too much time on them because then – if I’m too busy and don’t have time – I might not even use the journal.

This is a personal decision and everyone is different. Maybe you draw straight lines free-hand so it takes no extra time and your spreads are perfect. If that’s you? I’m staring at your instagram and kinda hating myself. Maybe you use a ruler because it’s one area of your life you can keep things in order and perfect and that brings you joy. And if that’s you? I’m staring at your instagram and kinda hating myself. BUT PLEASE KEEP DOING IT, because your photos and your spreads bring me so much joy, even though I’m irrationally envious of your lines and the beauty and perfection of your pages. THEY ARE SERIOUS WORKS OF ART and I love them.

But if you’re like me and shaky and squiggly and imperfect? Then you have a sister in me. Let’s be shaky together.

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  1. Even when I use a ruler, my lines are shaky! It doesn’t really bother me too much. If I make a big mistake, I just add a sticker. This week I put a big cupcake sticker where my line went wonky.

  2. Maggie says:

    I use a ruler only because I couldn’t find a good journal with dots fast enough and I wanted to start my bullet journal more quickly than the post could bring me a dotted grid. My lines would be squiggly AND slanty and that would drive me nuts. I love the imperfect lines on your pages. They give little movement and remind me of hand-drawn animation. I will be joining the shaky sisterhood with my next journal for sure.

  3. I had to work very hard with myself to let go of the perfection of straight ruler lines. But now that I have, I love the character that comes with my sort of squiggly lines. The dot grid does help from having my lines go totally off. 🙂

  4. Kathleen says:

    I’m to grown up to discuss about straight lines. Also I think it gives character and actually for me it’s less stressful. It’s all about what you like and not what other thinks. I also don’t stress if I make a mistake in creating a header. I will say next time better. Erasable pens also helps 😉

  5. “No Rules, No Ruler” is written on the front page of my very first Bullet Journal. I made a commitment to shaky lines when I started, because I can be such a perfectionist that if I tried to make them straight (even with a ruler), they’d never be straight enough. This way, I can blame any little mistakes on not using a ruler in the first place!

  6. Becky says:

    I, personally, don’t have a dot grid (refused to pay that much for one until I was sure this was for me, so the next one will be!), so I do have lines running horizontally. Honestly? Without my reasonably ruler-straight lines, I’d be such a mental mess looking at it, I’d give up. There would be lines going all wiggly next to straight lines, and I’d lose my mind.

    With that being said, I likely won’t use one when I finally get my dotted grid.

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