The Joy of the Notebook

15 July, 2019

The good old paper notebook seems to have had a small renaissance in recent years. Why? I’ve never been too sure about that. But I’ve noticed that people who’ve adopted notebooks tend to fall into three groups:

For someone my age, though, a paper notebook isn’t a novelty. I’ve been using notebooks to record thoughts, ideas, quotes, and more for decades. Even though my handwriting is legible only to about three or four people in the world, a notebook is one of the tools I turn to most.

For me, a notebook represents both utility and portability. I can whip out a notebook and a pen, get down my thoughts, and be on my way faster than I can with a phone or tablet. I don’t have to worry about my notebook running out of juice or lacking a 4G or wifi connection. The main dangers are my pen running out of ink or there not being enough pages in the notebook.

With a notebook, my thoughts can’t outrace my hand. I need to consider and ponder what I write. That forces me to be economical with my words, to pare my thoughts and ideas down to their cores. It’s that economy that helps me improve as both a writer and a thinker.

More than anything else, a notebook is comforting. Its heft reminds me that I have a different kind of portable hard drive. One that’s analog rather than digital, one that’s read/write, and which stands the test of time.

Scott Nesbitt