I’ve been collecting writing notebooks and journals since I was a teenager. Most writers I know tend to accumulate a lot of stationery and office supplies: notebooks, pens, paper clips, and other odds and ends that we can use to manage and organize our writing projects.
Over time, these writerly goodies pile up.
I now have a sizable collection of creative writing notebooks and journals. Some are completely filled up. Others are still blank. A few are only partially used.
Good Old-Fashioned Paper
These days, writers use computers for most of their writing. But many of us readily admit there’s still something about good old-fashioned pen and paper that gets creativity flowing. It’s difficult to brainstorm on a computer; jotting down notes and random thoughts is cumbersome; and it’s almost impossible to doodle in the margins.
When you work with paper, more of your senses are engaged. When more of your senses are engaged, creativity flows more freely. You have to use your mind and your hands together. It’s a tactile experience.
I get lost in my writing when I’m composing scenes on my computer, but the real magic happens when I’m working out problems and developing ideas in my writing notebook.
Most writers will develop a preference for a particular type of writing notebook. Some of mine are pretty and whimsical. Others are simple and functional. I always go through lots of spiral notebooks for my business writing, but when it comes to creative writing, I prefer either composition notebooks or hardbound journals.
Composition notebooks are cheap, so I feel like I can be free and messy, which is essential when I’m brainstorming and plotting elaborate stories. A lot of my ideas get scratched, and it’s not a big deal when they’ve been scrawled in one of these cheap writing notebooks. Since they’re not precious, it’s easier to dive in and start writing without feeling intimidated by the blank page.
For poetry, I prefer to work in a hardbound sketchbook with unlined pages. I like to doodle and draw when the mood strikes. Occasionally, I write sideways, upside down, or even in circles (a technique for breaking through writer’s block). It takes me a while to fill up a poetry journal, so it has to be tough and able to withstand lots of use. Since most of my poems never get transferred to the computer, the paper must be archival quality; there’s less yellowing and tearing with higher quality paper. I’ve found the Watson-Guptill Sketchbook to be the ideal choice for my poetry journals with Moleskines coming in a close second.
What’s in Your Creative Writing Notebook?
The other day I was going through all my notebooks and journals. I found some good ideas I’d forgotten about along with plenty of ridiculous ideas that I’m glad I abandoned. I also went through the notebooks and journals that I haven’t used yet and found myself wondering about the poems, stories, and ideas that will someday fill their pages.
Do you ever go through your old creative writing notebooks and journals? Once you’re done with them, do you store them somewhere, or do you keep what you want to use and throw away the rest? Do you have a favorite brand or style for your writing notebook, and do you keep a decent supply on hand, or do you run to the store whenever you need a new one? What, exactly, do you write in your notebooks? Do you develop stories, draft poems, or keep a journal about your life? Leave a comment and tell us about it.