The Importance of Carrying a Notebook

Two days ago, I blogged about the importance of paper. How writers, more specifically I, feel about paper and its uses for writers and within society. What about the notebook? With the innovation of the IPad and tote-worthy tablets, haven’t physical paper notebooks become a thing of a past for writers? I would contest no because I write in notebooks every day. Yesterday, I bought a new one.

Newest notebook, small enough to fit in my pocket.

As you can see, I've already christened the white paper with a new poem as of last night.

When I first got the Nook tablet, I figured that I would no longer need a notebook. There’s an app called Fliq notes where I can type in reminders to myself. Of course, I cannot do so at school. And perhaps I cannot do so quick enough when the Nook is turned off. Just pushing onscreen buttons is a hassle which takes longer than writing down the note would be. So while Fliq notes is great, I do not use it to record lines of poems I think up.

Sitting in class and you think up a paragraph for a short story you’ve been working on. Here is a place to write it.

Personally, writing in journals gives me a sort of connection to the writers of the past. Ernest Hemingway wrote in notebooks before typing up his stories. Like those writers, I can practice thinking slowly about a story instead of rattling it out too quickly. Perhaps with more time, I will be able to write something more eloquent and less fraught with spelling mistakes.

When later, I must type up the draft of a story, I am allowed to again revise the story giving me an even better story than I started off with. It’s less obnoxious as well than carrying around an IPad or laptop wherever I go. Recently, I’ve created a rule for myself. I must only buy notebooks that fit in my pocket. That way, I can carry it whenever I am going out, and in the middle of the street, if I hear something brilliant or am struck suddenly with an idea, I can write it down.

I’ve filled an entire shoe box (and more) full of notebooks, both ornate and plain. This is a collection I’ve kept since about the ninth grade. Each notebook is completely filled with words. Stories, poems, and thoughts.

I realize, that is rather a lot of words inside of those notebooks. I even included my Nook, which can served as a note-keeper too.

Here are some of my favorites:

I bought this notebook in Germany two years ago. It has musical notation on the cover and inside to one of Chopin’s most famous pieces.

Here is a better look at the cover.

This next notebook was the one I bought during Black Friday, though it was decidedly not on sale. It is actually the larger version of my newest notebook.

This next notebooks is another definite favorite for two reasons. First off, it is small with rounded edges, also thin. Making it very easy to carry in my pocket wherever I go. Though my newer notebook is smaller, it is thicker, which can be irksome at times. Also, this poem was the last bought during my trip to Alabama three weeks ago. It is already filled with stories and poems.

Lastly, my utmost favorite notebook. My uncle bought this notebook for me in Karlsruhe at which point I stopped transcribing my adventures in marble notebooks and began in this. In fact, the journal entries and sketches in this notebook were the inspiration for my poem “The Savage Summer.” The cover design and spin held together by strings, the entire poem is just… a work of art. See for yourself.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing these and learning about my own notebooks. Do you hold notebooks dear to you as well? If so, share your stories in the comment section below. Tell me about what sort of notebooks you own and how you use them. Until next time, Ciao.

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About Derek Berry

Derek Berry is a novelist and spoken word poet. Derek is the author of Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). He co-founded and organizes The Unspoken Word, a literary non-profit based out of Charleston, SC, which provides an intendent home for the poetic arts through regular readings, workshops, and community fundraisers. He is on the Executive Board of the Charleston Poetry Festival, the inaugural production of which will be Fall 2017. His work has appeared in The Southern Tablet, Cattywampus, Charleston Currents, Illuminations, RiverSedge, and other journals.He has performed in venues across the United States and Germany. He has worked as a photographer’s assistant, busboy, and bookseller. He currently works at a curation facility for Cold War History.

Posted on March 31, 2012, in books, Humor, Language, personal, Poetry, Stress, Word Salad, writer, Writing, writing advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Great Post. Type and cover of Notebook a real deal for me. I have begun to note take on the iPad longhand with a stylus and software that translates my scribble remarkably well but still a ways off from replacing my bevy of notebooks.

    Thanks

    • Sometimes, I like simple but elegant. But then again, the Chopin one and the map notebook, those blew me away. I just had buy them. And then after you buy them, you feel pressured to write very beautiful stuff in there. That’s why I never bought ornate notebooks till not long ago. Back years ago, I used spiral notebooks and marbled notebooks. But as my writing has changed, so has how I choose to write and what I choose to write in. For me, the small worn tan one was the best. Trendy, but also functional as well.

  2. Agreed, I never leave home..or my room…without one..or several, depending on my mood 🙂

    • There was a time when I would use many different notebooks for different uses. I refused to mix personal entries with fictional ones. Now I mix thoughts with poems with fragments of short stories. I pick through it later. Sometimes, I forget I wrote something and when I dredged out all the notebooks, I found so much I’d forgotten to write about. And lines that never worked that might be revised to work in new poems and stories. Very exciting. I’ll have to write now with a stack of my notebooks beside my laptop. If I hit a wall, start reading notes.

  3. I LOVE this blog. Partly because I just finished my third writing notebook today (I started carrying notebooks everywhere in 2010) and so it’s pretty exciting to start a new one and select something different and really take the time in figuring out how and what I want to write in for the next few months. I love notebooks and you’re right, you have to carry it EVERYWHERE because you never know where inspiration will hit. I have a big notebook for writing and carrying in my purse, but I have a pocket one just in case I go on a walk or something and can’t carry my bigger one.

  4. I like to use my iPhone when I’m out primarily as I use it with dropbox to sync up with my Macbook. That way I can transfer some more “important” ideas about. I do use a small notebook as well. I have a young son so it is often easier to move round the house with this, jotting down some notes, poems or anything else.

    I love the look of some of your notebooks, although and unfortunately, I don’t think they will work for me.

    • Yeah, some are far too big to carry. I usually carry a shoulder bag with me, which I described in a post about chap stick. So, I could carry larger journals. Recently, however, I prefer to just use my pockets. It’s cumbersome to carry a bag around, not to mention the weird looks I get. American men are not supposed to carry bags, apparently.

  1. Pingback: A Notebook and a Pen « dodging commas

  2. Pingback: A Notebook And A Pen « 3E8 English Resource Library

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