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Plain, pocket sized, soft cover, black - that's my kind of Moleskine notebook. For every writing project, I have a dedicated notebook of exactly that style, which makes telling them apart a little difficult. The easy, yet creative solution: a little cover customisation.

The first time I did this was with the notebook for my first novel, THIS WAY LIES MAYHEM. At the time, I didn't know what the cover of the novel would eventually look like, but the instantly recognisable roaring gorilla is an image that plays a role in the book itself, so that was an easy choice for my custom Moleskine cover.

Easy to do as well:

- Print out the stencil image on a regular piece of paper, the size of your Moleskine notebook.
- Take some sort of (more or less) transparent piece of thin, flexible, yet sturdy plastic, put the plastic sheet on the printout, trace the image on the plastic sheet with a marker pen.
- Cut the parts you want to appear in colour on the notebook cover from the plastic sheet (best use a scalpel), so that the plastic sheet forms the negative of your image.
- Before you spray, you need to secure the stencil on the cover, to create clear lines and avoid the colour from seeping where it doesn't belong. For the best result, put on disposable gloves; it will allow you to press the stencil against the cover of the notebook and apply an even coat of paint.
- I use MTN 94 matt paint (white) for the stencils. Lightly spray over the stencil/notebook until the entire motif is evenly covered. Don't soak it in paint! Excess paint would only rub off over time.

I've had this particular notebook for over three years now and taken it everywhere with me - whether in a bag or in the back pocket of my jeans - to jot down all the little ideas for the novel. I have recently 'reactivated' it, to add the notes for the screenplay based on the novel. After all that time, the spray-painted cover still holds up and looks good. And I never accidentally grab the wrong notebook when I am in a rush.

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