Writers and Notebooks - A Love Affair.

Some of the current collection
Today, a friend on Facebook posted about the way many notebooks are more expensive than actual printed books. She's right, of course. They are. But I still buy them.

I know lots of other writers who have a notebook habit. We accumulate them. Sometimes we sit and admire them without actually writing in them. The special ones are hoarded for some hypothetical future project that will be worthy of the perfect notebook.

I have very specific tastes in notebooks. First and foremost, the pages have to be blank. I hate lined paper. You'd be surprised how many shops seem to have stopped stocking blank paper notebooks altogether. Sometimes you have to hunt among the art materials to find them.

The paper has to be good quality, preferably off white or cream rather than bright white. I often write with italic or 'handwriting' pens, with broad nibs (yes, I know, but I was taught to write that way at school, a long long time ago and I can't help it!) and if the paper is nasty, the ink sinks in. It's so disappointing when you open a notebook with a beautiful cover to find that the paper inside is flimsy and impractical.

I quite like hard cover notebooks, especially brightly coloured hard cover notebooks: pink, turquoise, red, blue. Soft covers are OK though, especially for travelling. I have a couple of beautiful little notebooks I bought in Oxford last year, with Kraft paper covers, and ladybird designs, including an edge design like one of those wonderful old books that have a painting along the depth of the pages. I like them to be a decent size, although it's handy when they can also fit in my handbag. And if they have a little compartment into which I can slip notes for talks, train timetables etc, so much the better.

I have an ongoing love affair with Moleskine. I love these notebooks with a passion, which is a bit sad since they're not cheap. But they are the kings and queens among notebooks. Everything about them, including the quality of the paper, is wonderful. If any notebook might magically be able to make you into a better writer, these are the ones to try. (And no, they're not paying me to say this.)

I generally buy mine online, from Amazon or from T K Maxx, where you can find a good selection of notebooks and nice paper of all kinds. Although once you've discovered the Moleskine shop, you might well be enticed in. I use one every day, for lists of things to do. I've also been using one this year to keep track of the many events I've been asked to do, venues, contact details, train or bus times, hotel bookings  - and again, Moleskine provides the perfect notebook: robust, with a piece of elastic to keep it firmly shut, a bookmark and a wallet at the back.

Oddly enough, I use a Kindle for reading all the time, and although I love paper books and have too many of them, I can't say I feel excessively attached to them, can't say I miss them, especially when I'm reading fiction. I also write directly onto a PC and would never dream of writing a novel in longhand now. Too slow. It would drive me mad.

But when it comes to research, planning and plotting, or making my various lists, I prefer my notebooks. I really do love to use pen and paper.

I've a feeling that you can never have too many notebooks. I wonder what other people think. Do you have favourites, pet hates, perfect specimens?


Comments

Becca McCallum said…
Oh I have notebooks. Lots of them. I have a pile of shiny, pretty patterned ones that I like seeing all stacked up and imagining what I'm going to write in them. I have a lop-sided bundle of roughly made leather bound ones, that are perfect for shoving in a bag and taking on a walk for when I want to make nature notes. I have my 'working notebooks' that are falling to bits, with pages hanging out, stuff scribbled all over the covers, and extra notes taped in wherever I can fit. And then I have my old notebooks that I can't bear to throw out - they have all the stories I wrote when I was much younger. They are very unbeautiful notebooks - just lined 'reporter' ones, written in fading pencil, and my handwriting is pretty awful too. But they represent so much of my childhood that I feel bad about just chucking them.