There’s a sense in which even thinking about what notebook to use is procrastinating. If you’re looking for the perfect notebook to begin your new project, you may never start it.
I’m fussy. I have a few criteria.
1. Smooth paper that takes the ink, so that my hand can move easily across the page. I used to think that ‘good’ paper was the thick, textured kind, like the cartridge paper you find in artists’ sketchbooks, but I’ve since discovered that what I really need is the opposite, something more like this.
2. Definitely no lines. Many a good notebook is ruined for me by them.
Plain is always good. And I do like a good dot matrix. This, for example, is sumptuous paper, great for doodling. And faint grid paper makes me very nostalgic for Italy, where I went to school for two years and where these exercise books (which are actually French) were easy to get hold of at the little village shop.
3. Size matters. Different sizes for different tasks. Like almost everyone else I know, I like these. I use a small one as an everyday journal. I also love these with the soft covers, so easy to slip in your pocket. And when out and about, a pen loop is always handy.
4. Just special enough. (And the above is pretty much my criteria for ‘special.’) Too special and I just know I’ll keep that notebook for only my most special thoughts. Meaning that I won’t write anything. But I did indulge in this with a Christmas voucher, which I’m using to plan my next book, with Washi tapes to mark the edges of pages, dividing the book into sections as I go. I find myself gathering ideas in other scrappier notebooks and then transferring them to this book. It’s a kind of editing process.
5. The best notebook is the one you have right now: a paper serviette, the back of an envelope. I hate writing on my phone. I’d far rather grab something ‘real’ to scribble on.