I once spent an undisclosed amount of money to receive around fifty notebooks because one of my favourite stationary stores was having a New Year’s sale. Not only did I not need another fifty notebooks, I already had probably about that same amount at home. Some unused, some fully used, some half-used. Despite this, every time I go shopping, I will go into more stationary stores and likely come out with more notebooks. It’s pretty much an addiction.
But, I can say confidently that I use them, or that, at least, I will use them. Maybe the moment I open the notebook, I will have a purpose for it, or maybe I will in ten years, because I definitely have some empty notebooks that are over ten years old. All these notebooks I have, in various sizes and styles, they will get used, I am certain of that.
Obviously, I like to write digitally. Word is my preferred programme, and that’s kind of how most writers do things nowadays anyway. Gone, I believe, are the days, where you send in manuscripts physically. I’m sure there are those who prefer that, but I would hazard to guess most publishers prefer a digital document, and that’s obviously a lot lovelier for the planet too.
But there is something wonderful about writing physically, pen put to paper. There’s such a pleasure to it, to having this physical thing that you have created. Whilst you create digitally as well, I love seeing ink on paper. It’s almost inexplicable, and it’s one of the reasons I adore acquiring notebooks because I just know, eventually, it’s going to be filled with ink and words and concepts. It’ll be filled with stories, or plans of stories, and that’s so special.
I have a lot of different uses for these notebooks. The first, I get cheap notebooks, a couple of pounds or a cheap pack, and these are rough ones. I take these with me on the road, when my laptop is turned off, when I’m sitting in the garden, and I write out scenes or plans that, eventually, get written up digitally. One of the most wonderful things about this is not just writing physically, but I get to shred these ones, and there is something so satisfying about shredding. Obviously, I do recycle this, I’m a big fan of, you know, the planet and keeping her safe, and I am able to recycle shredded paper, so there is a certain amount of pleasure in that. But there is also something satisfying about ripping out a piece of paper and watching it get shredded into unknowable pieces. Then, on top of that, there is something satisfying about knowing, eventually, this paper will be used again, be written on by someone else, containing more ink. I love that. Stories are meant to be passed around, so why not the paper they’re written on as well?
Then I have a second kind of notebook, typically A5, that are a lot nicer in quality, usually more expensive, sometimes a lot more, and these are for plans and information. For example, for Project #2, I have a beautiful notebook from Paperchase that is full of information about the characters, the world, general information or problems I need to solve in the future. Another notebook for Project #1 has chapter plans as well as character bios. Whilst there is an ease to accessing things digitally, I love skimming through pages looking for what I wrote when it came to a certain kind of magic or what colour I said a character’s hair was. I find holding a book more satisfying than a laptop despite the wonders of control+f.
The third kind are A4, and these are for research. Writing is never just writing, there is a lot more that goes into it, and sitting at a computer or in a library is a big part of making your writing cohesive, concrete, and well-written. I wouldn’t advise writing a book where your main character is a woodworker but you don’t refer to the correct terms or techniques. That means, as a writer, you can’t just be a writer, you need to be a woodworker, a chef, a singer, a CEO, a seamstress or designer, all of that and more. And that is why these larger notebooks are so important because it gives me something physical to refer to, and there are studies that suggest when you write something physically, you remember it better, and that can only be a good thing when you’re a writer.
I have a small notebook where I write down all the stories I’ve thought of and all potential future stories too. Another is full of all the changes I’ve made along the way for the current projects because I adore seeing where things start and where they end. I have one, quite personal, where I write current stresses and daily affirmations just to keep everything rational and grounded. I have another for my language practice and I probably have others I’m forgetting about too. I attain a notebook and, somehow, I will find a use for it.
Admittedly, I don’t have stellar penmanship, I never really have. Even when I was in primary school, they used to give out pen licences to those who had perfected the art of writing legibly, and I only received one because I was in top set and everyone else had one and I didn’t. I try to make my handwriting neat, but sometimes you’ve just written the most wonderful sentence in your head and you need to hurriedly get it down onto paper before it’s gone. I’ll be honest, my handwriting isn’t ever going to improve, and I am so envious of people who write beautifully, but whilst the physicality of my writing might not be beautiful, the concept and stories are and, to me, that’s what matters most. I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have gorgeous penmanship, but I’ll live without it too.
Evidently, I adore notebooks, and I’m sure I will find even more uses for them. I tried bullet journaling and just a general journal a couple of times, but these are less my kind of writing, less of the things I find interesting. I love stories and research, and I will continue to fill notebooks until my pens run out and I can find no more.
So, yes, it’s quite likely, a couple of days after this post, that I will have bought new notebooks or will be craving more notebooks. But, I use them. I love them. I need them. I will always need more of them. We all have our guilty pleasures, and I admit to no shame about hoarding notebooks.