I’m ashamed to say that I only became aware of the usefulness of notebooks after I got caught up in ‘designer’ culture. Many of the design interviews and articles I read contained a photo with some sort of diagram in a notebook usually accompanied with coffee and Apple product in tow. So when I saw a notebook which kind of looked like a Moleskine in Asda I jumped at the chance of becoming an ‘authentic’ designer type.
I’ve since learned that notebooks are, actually, bloody brilliant. The good quality ones provide a tactile pleasure akin to burying your toes in sand or running your hands through soil. Smooth paper, soft leather covers, a satisfying twang from the elastic and most importantly they’re a pleasure to write on.
My note books have seemed to take on their own personalities so I thought I would write a little about each one:
My first ‘proper’ notebook is probably only 7 years old and what a beast it is. Asda’s standard notebook is like someone tried to carve a Moleskine out of wood. I’m surprised ‘home defence weapon’ wasn’t listed as a feature - you could bludgeon a burglar with this thing. The cover is so hard it would probably save me from a bullet and the paper is like cardboard. It’s the tactile equivalent to a punch in the face, however, it’s served me well.
A kind Redditor not only sent me a notebook for Christmas but also drew the mighty Great A’Tuin (from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld) on the cover. This has become the notebook version of the ‘Donut Manifesto’, somewhere to note down stuff that I’ve done that I’m proud of, because I’m rubbish at celebrating my achievements.
In Ancient Egypt it was said that when a person dies, their heart would travel with the deceased into the afterlife where it could be weighed for final judgement. If I lived in Ancient Egypt, I would save them some time and send this notebook instead of the heart. The idea for the use of this notebook came from realising that the journey home at the end of a weekend away was kind of sad because the event was over. It’s strange to think about this before an event has happened. “In two weeks time we will be heading back and it’ll all be over.” So I decided that I should keep a quick note about what happens at the events so I can remember them a little better. It certainly makes me feel better.
My trusty reporter’s notebook is a little frayed and cumbersome but does the honorable job of carrying my worries and anxieties when I don’t want to deal with them straight away. Sometimes it’s best to postpone these things until you’re in a better frame of mind. At a later date, if what I note down is worth worrying about I’ll transfer it to the Stalwart and make a plan to deal with it. If it’s not then it get’s crossed off the list.
Carries my ideas, lists, thoughts, diagrams and doodles. It’s a reliable friend and is always there when I need to plan stuff out or think things through. It likes to travel in my backpack when I go places (and invariably doesn’t get used). Slim and sturdy, this is the brain and the brawn of the outfit, like a presidential body guard it protects my thoughts from the dangers of modern life (tea spillage).
The Stalwart doesn’t know it but I’ve been cheating on it with with another notebook. It started off all innocent. It was to be used just for planning my articles but it seduced me with it’s soft front cover, flexibility and luxury of space. It became such a pleasure to use that I succumbed and started to use it for all kind of things. This is probably my favourite of all my notebooks. When I talked about tactile sense, this has it all: large smooth pages, a soft cover which can be folded round, a hard back cover to give stability for writing.
It’s common advice to spend money on experiences rather than objects but I believe it’s okay to spend money on objects which give you a good experience. My advice would be, if you haven’t already, buy a good quality notebook, a cheap Bic pen, smooth the paper with your hand and get scribbling. Enjoy!