“Creation versus Consumption”

Here’s an interesting article from The Simple Dollar, in which the writer’s notebooks are a key example of something many of us struggle with:

I like pocket notebooks. During my years as a young professional who still harbored some little sliver of a dream of someday becoming a writer, I would often pick up a wonderful, shiny, expensive new Moleskine pocket notebook. I’d keep it with me for a while, sitting down at coffee shop tables and opening it up before me, dreaming little dreams of being a great writer. On occasion, I might even write something down in that notebook.

But, after a while, I’d put it aside somewhere – in a dresser drawer or somewhere else – and then a few months later, the bug would strike me again. So I’d buy another nice, shiny, new notebook and fill up a few pages with jottings, only to eventually add it to my ever-growing pile of journals and pads here and there around the house.

Skip forward to today. Today, I keep a tiny, dirt-cheap Mead memo notebook in my pocket at all times. And I use it and abuse it. I fill that thing from top to bottom with notes, and it’s often a race with time as to whether I beat the notebook to death before I fill it with my notes….

What good is a notebook if it’s not collecting your thoughts? What good is a pair of running shoes if you’re not out running? What good is a keyboard if you’re not practicing your music?

A lot of us want to accomplish something great. We want to read the great works of Western literature. We want to train for and run in a 5K. We want to write the “Great American Novel.” We want to have the perfect home for our family.

The truth is that no product on earth will ever make these things happen…. You can have all the slick notebooks in the world, but if they’re just filled with empty pages, they’re useless.

Do you agree? Is a notebook obsession sometimes a symptom of creative paralysis, and of throwing money at a problem to try to solve it? Or does a nice notebook stimulate creativity in a way that a beat-up Mead memo pad wouldn’t, making the money spent on expensive journals a good investment?

10 thoughts on ““Creation versus Consumption””

  1. I use crap, 8-for-a-dollar college-lined notebooks for my morning pages, and Moleskines for carrying around with me. The Mole fits my needs:

    *) fits in pocket
    *) hardback
    *) doesn’t bleed too much
    *) makes me wanna fill it with notes

  2. practically speaking, i have to agree: i use a mead 4/5 in. graph paper Quadrille neatbook notebook for ideas, a cheap made in Brazil Wal-Mart composition book for writing and rough drafts, and a free hardbound journal i got at a chicago B&N, which i use as a daily journal. i use index cards for to-do lists. et cetera…

    i could go on…but i do want a moleskine or a picadilly or something nice in the future…

  3. For me, logical or not, if I am writing in something that does not stay open or who has weak paper or whatever, it is a distraction from whatever I am trying to do. Quality things let me focus on what I am doing. Same goes for pens or whatever. I am not an aspiring writer or anything. All I really do is lesson plans or to do lists or sermon ideas, so it may just be a different issue with me.

    Albeit an compulsive, notebook obsessed one…

  4. I suspect the answer depends on the writer and what frame of mind they are in, or what stage of dedication to the craft they’ve acheived.

  5. I feel the same way. I loved Moleskine notebooks but rarely seemed to actually fill one up.

    I ended up buying some Field Notes Brand notebooks… they are smaller so i can keep one in my pocket all the time, and because they are cheaper and “plainer” I tend to use it constantly. My “Field Notes” contain my journal entries, to do’s, sketches, meeting notes, random ideas, etc. I tend to use up 1 or 2 a month!


  6. Yes, that is one of my weaknesses, though I do the same with other things, ie. art supplies, so I know it’s my general disease, the inability to use nice things, as I would sully them with my less than perfect lines of any kind!

  7. I like this article, it’s true that if you’re preoccupied with searching for “the right notebook” you’re losing the time you could have spent actually writing in one!
    I’ve always thought that if you can’t seem to find a notebook you like, the issue isn’t finding the right notebook but committing to writing. Writing for a profession is a discipline.

    I know for a fact that when I’m browsing the stationary stores and drooling over all he pretty notebooks, I know I don’t really intend to write in any of them. At the end of the day I only write in the old beat up ones, and those are plain notebooks. I actually found that I prefer the paper in the cheaper style notebooks, because brands like Moleskine smudge.

    I like the pocket sized notebooks too, they’re just portable and live my history with me. I wish they had more pages though… it’s always so sad to part with an old notebook and have to confide in a new one.

  8. I can completely reltae! I used to journal for purely therapeutic reasons but I started writing in other genres because people have always complimented me on my writing ability and I thought I should not waste my God-given talent. I feel happy and accomplished when a project is completed but getting started and muddling through is often painful. It’s good to know that I’m not alone thanks for sharing!

  9. I agree. A notebook is a tool. I use a cheapo pocket notepad and disposable pen for when my planner isn’t handy to jot down various notes/thoughts/ideas/etc. Then I’ll tape the used sheets into my planner later. I’ve even taped an additional piece of cardboard to the back to give it a little more support and storage space for business cards and a pencil. It’s all part of my EDC.

  10. I go through a lot of notebooks (and get really attached to the ones I am using and fill them to brimming ~If I find a notebook I like using i’ll go back and buy a couple more of them knowing I’ll definitely be filling them) ! But i think when i buy new notebooks I’m well meaning but occasionally it’s just not the right time? I’ll go months where I don’t feel good writing in notebooks and would rather organize my thoughts on my computer (I usually work in notebooks if I’m working on something that will carry me through that entire notebook) or I’ll buy a notebook that, while it looks nice the paper is meh or there’s something off about the size and while I’m working on it something about it completely throws off my groove, it’s like getting into bed and you’ve got a lump sticking into your back the entire night!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.