Do you have a notebook ?

Phil: Whenever I read about writers, they always seem to mention their notebook. It lives beside the bed for midnight scribbling and is carried at all times in case the muse strikes and great thoughts have to be committed to paper or be lost forever on the winds.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been very good with notebooks. At school I took the attitude that if I needed to know stuff in an exam it was better in my head than scribbled on paper, which might account for my derisory exam results. Later, at work, while others fill endless pads with verbatim reports of meeting, I take part in the meeting and just jot down any action points. Not being very good at multi-tasking, I reason that if you want a full and complete record then video the thing or get a shorthand taker to write it all down. If I’m in the room I’m then my role is to help make decisions and drive projects forward. Anyway, the average meeting is full of waffle which the world can live without.

That hasn’t stopped me acquiring the obligatory pad. At my desk, the sort of jobs I do require me to jot things down so I can keep track of them. One of these pads is half full of web page addresses that have been coloured in with highlighter pen as I kept track of project progress. The layout is best described as freeform. Some might say chaotic but I don’t feel that I should be hide-bound by the convention forced on me by those horizontal lines – writing up the page sometimes works well and if I add a few arrows and lines in then I know what is going on. Didn’t Leonardo de Vinci leave notes people had to decipher ? Yes he did so it’s obviously a mark of genius.

Anyway, that is the big notebook. It makes the photo because I used it at the firm where I met Candice and our book idea was born. Thus, it has work at the front and great literary ideas towards the back.

The smaller book is my writing notepad. At A6 size it is small enough to lodge in my bag so it can travel around. As well as an elastic band to hold it shut, there is a bookmark ribbon so I can find where I was last jotting. The covering is a sort of rubbery/vinyl affect which isn’t leather, as prefered by many writers of the romantic persuasion, but seemed when I bought it more appropriate than cardboard. The rules of being a writer say this is important and if you have a nice cover, you will put better thoughts inside.

I’m not sure about this but I do jot down ideas. I also record observations for when I’m writing one of my other blogs. It’s easy to forget detail and when detail matters it should be recorded for future use. There’s also a collection of random ideas and the genesis of both Kate vs the Dirtboffins and Kate vs The Potter along with book 2 in the series – yes we are working on it ! In years to come I expect I will have to donate it to the British Library or perhaps the Bodleian so it can be saved for the nation.

Candice has a notebook. Her book is A4 sized and covered with paintings of shoes. She’s a lot more organised than me and has neater writing. I sometimes feel guilty when we are chatting and she’s managing to take notes at the same time, so some of the scribbles in my book are there to salve my conscience when I feel I ought to write stuff down too.  I can guess which one future historians will find more useful.

But, the question is, which comes first ? Being a writer and buying a notepad or buying a notepad and then deciding you fancy being a writer ?



Filed under Phil, Writing

6 responses to “Do you have a notebook ?

  1. I think it probably goes both ways, but the ones who buy a notebook to “try out” being a writer are more likely to peter out when the initial inspiration buzz fades. My idea is that once you’ve been a writer long enough, taking your thoughts and ideas seriously, you eventually want to have paper on hand in case you come up with something cool and don’t want to forget it, or need to fit writing into 15-minute increments around your other obligations.

  2. I’m with you Phil, I’m not really a notebook kinda guy. With that said I will admit that I used to have a digital recorder near my bed just-in-case. Of course my wife found it a little creepy when she awoke @ 2 in the morning to a half-asleep man whispering to himself on the side of the bed. 🙂

  3. Andy in Germany

    Um.. good question. I’ve always had notebooks and always wrote stuff so I can’t answer the question. I’m kinesthetic though, which is a fancy way to say I can listen better if I’m moving so I tend to write or doodle in meetings.

    And if the meetings get really boring I doodle designs for future modelmaking projects…

  4. idea1

    I’ve reached the age when I find it difficult to remember why am in a particular room so now have loads of notebooks of odd sizes full of ideas and squiggles for paintings, graphics, typographics and general things to do. I try to keep them logical and with nice writing but I often can’t read wot I rote. I found a nice orange one in Asda, a bit bigger than A5 with pockets in the back as well.

  5. The whole fetishization of writers’ tools makes me NUTS. I’ve published two books and am working on the third…and the hell with notebooks. I scribble on whatever is handy; last night, taking notes on the proposal from my agent on a scrap of paper covered with something else really important.

    It matters not what you write on or in, but whether what you produce is even worth reading. If you asked a dozen published writers what they write on, you would likely never hear the word “notebook.” I bet we’re all banging away on our laptops…I, for one, hate re-entering data so I try to keep it all in one place once I’ve begun working on a project.

  6. Pingback: Writer’s Block | nolanparker

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