Notebooks are a very personal thing, and, many believe, an increasingly less relevant one in this increasingly digital age. Yet some of the large notebook manufactures do claim that as we move to more and more digital media, the urge to use analog becomes greater and greater.
I don’t really care about any of that. I’ve loved notebooks as far back as I can remember. I was always fascinated with pocket books, and I kept all of my old school notebooks to draw in (I wish that had meant my drawing would improve). It used to be that I would just grab and use what was on the shelf at the dollar store, but my tastes and ways of using notebooks have changed significantly.
I do have one problem with notebooks, and I’ve had it forever. I can’t stand having more than one subject for one book. This in the past lead me to cycle through books like nobody’s business, or tear out so many pages that I compromised the book’s integrity. I’ve essentially made up for this now by using each of my books for more general purposes, and letting the very specific topics go into pocket books, like Field Notes.
My main theory on notebooks is that “way too many” is “just about right”. I quite literally have a full shelf of notebooks that I am using currently. That doesn’t mean a lot of use, though: it just means I started them at some point in the past and haven’t finished with them. Unfortunately for my hopeless system, many of these books will never be finished. The books I do finish are part of my regular system, which breaks down like: Sketchbook (large), Every day drawing (large), Every day ideas (pocket, hardcover), and Pocket (pocket, soft cover). These 4 books generally cover anything I have to do in a given day. From cartoon ideas to grocery lists, they’ve generally got me covered.
If I carry the books I generally carry them in reverse order to what I’ve listed, starting with the pocket book, which goes with me everywhere. And I think it’s very important to have a pocket book go with you everywhere. It’s not only something that I can easily jot notes down in, it’s something that can be easily remembered. When I get home one of the first things I do is empty everything I can from my pockets, and the book is usually one of those things, prompting me to look through it– unlike my notes on my phone, which I keep in my pocket and forget about (though those work in a pinch).
My dedication to carrying a notebook everywhere is aided by the fact that I don’t usually go to non-notebook friendly places (I could use ‘Write in the Rain’ I guess) and that I don’t have a job where my notebooks would get damaged. Mileage may vary on that bit, but I believe it is good to carry a notebook whenever possible. The notebooks that aren’t my pocket notebook go in my bag and can be pulled out whenever I feel necessary, which is generally only during intolerably long wait times, as I, in general, am inclined to sit back and observe before writing in a notebook or diddling on my phone.
When back at my house, notebooks used to be scattered all over the place, but recently I made an attempt to corral them. Now they are generally in one area, that being my desk and the shelf next to my desk. My small living-space allows this quite easily, though at the cost of moving other things (like regular books) farther away from my working area. Still, having a notebook and a pen close at hand is one of the handiest things I’ve ever come across.
For me, the specific notebooks don’t matter. I just have the ones I like at the moment. I do tend to go with cleaner looking, more established company notebooks for my general stuff, though. Moleskines look nicer on the shelf than a bunch of Wal-Mart, dollar store, or even custom-made books do on the shelf, simply because of uniformity, both when being written in, and when finished. And I’ve finished a lot more of my daily writer Moleskine books than my one-of-a-kind, or different-looking books. So that’s a bit of how I use my notebooks. I’d love to hear how you guys use yours in the comments, and I hope you enjoyed.