Changes in How We Use Notebooks

At From the Living Room, some musings on “My Notebook“:

It used to be that my notebook was the most important thing in my handbag. It used to be that I would get through a notebook in a matter of months. I have a box full of used notebooks, each with the date they were started on scribbled inside the front cover. My current notebook started in… October 2006. I shocked myself looking that one up.

Up until I started writing online, I kept a journal of sorts in my notebook but it petered out when I started using Live Journal. So it’s not surprising that my notebooks fill up less quickly than they used to. But somehow, the less I use my notebook for every thought I feel, the less I use my notebook for every thought I think. I seem to be paying less attention to my ideas than I used to.

I still write down phrases that catch me unawares, and if I’m waiting somewhere, I nearly always free-write in my notebook. But I don’t have the same relationship with it as I used to. Sometimes I find myself writing ideas down on the back of a receipt when my notebook is sitting in my bag. And sometimes I don’t write my ideas down at all. What has changed?

Have your notebook usage habits changed over the years? What has affected them: electronic devices? Blogging? Other things?

I’ve gone back and forth about what information I keep electronically, and for a while, I only used paper notebooks for sketches and journal entries after switching to keeping all my to-do’s, calendars, and lists in a Palm PDA. But now I’ve gone back to keeping a lot of lists and to-do’s in a notebook. How about you?

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7 Responses to “Changes in How We Use Notebooks”

  1. I do much more notetaking and keep information in a notebook. I still carry a Moleskine address book and planner. Nr

  2. I still carry a small arsenal of Cartesio, moleskine cahier/ruled/Volants and a couple Rhodias in my bag. Yes, I write in them less and less. Still pulls on my psyche though.

  3. Thank you for expressing this change so much better than I can to myself. I used to keep a paper planner but have gradually migrated to digital devices and their syncing ability. Although my tasks are well managed, I find them to be cold and bare with no extraneous details. Writing little notes next to the task as I checked it off in the paper planner gave it more life. Even though I can add notes to the digital planner, it’s not the same and there’s no pull for me to go to the note tab and type in the notes — it’s much easier to just tick in that box.

    I write less in my journal now than pre-blogging days. I still jot down quick notes as they occur to me. But I wonder what Twitter will do to that habit?

  4. You are quite right (I almost wrote “write!). I used to be self-conscious about using a notebook as a diary, then did so, then jotted down notes, poems, ideas etc.

    i use LOTS of notebooks and make my own as well, but also use napkins, scrap paper etc.

    Whatever is around, i guess, including the digital methods. I do love the Moleskins though (which I buy at half-price) and sometimes very teeny notebooks. i find the main thing is to get the idea and corral it in a piece of paper!

    Kudos for this blog, it’s terrifc! :)

  5. Hi. I’ve just learned about this site and I’d say that my Palm and my notebook have to terms: they are with me most of the time. Finally I found a balance among them: data is digitally stored and more valuable thoughts go to the paper. Is it wise? hard to say but I enjoyed the time this way.

    Only thing I wish is to find a fine notebook brand in my city.

  6. Hi! This is the fourth year that I’ve been working on a novel, and at the beginning I would constantly fill up pages of cheap exercise books, as well as write journal entries and do schoolwork in actual books. In my country the government have a system of distributing free laptops for school work to high school students once they reach a certain age, and since I got mine I barely write in notebooks! It’s so sad, almost all of my writings go into a laptop even after always carrying one book with me :( But now I’ve realized that exercise books are better for everything, and started keeping my notes on paper again and am in the time-consuming process of writing everything into books again.
    I love your blog! One day, I aspire to own as many beautiful notebooks as you :)

  7. Historical update: The blog entry quoted and linked to by Nifty at the beginning of this article is now returning an error, “This blog page does not exist.” Not sure if that’s irony or modernity.
    My favorite line: “…the less I use my notebook for every thought I feel, the less I use my notebook for every thought I think.”
    Amen. Don’t be this guy, don’t lose your heart or your mind! Don’t let your life go offline!
    Buy nice but not necessarily expensive notebooks.
    Use nice but not necessarily expensive writing instruments.
    Carry them together and have them with you always.
    Write, draw, doodle, think, feel, wonder.

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