New notebooks (and how to write in them.)

Let’s talk stationery.

I knew that would get your attention.

More specifically, let’s talk notebooks.

Buying new notebooks is one of my favourite parts of being a writer. This makes no sense. I write all my books straight into my computer. There’s no scribbling away and then transferring to type afterwards. Apart from anything else, I’d never read my own handwriting. And I don’t plan my books out before I start either. So, why the fascination with notebooks?

Well, I have absolutely no idea, but that doesn’t stop me buying them.

My purchases tend to fall into two categories. Firstly, there are the Leuchtturm 2017 notebooks. (This is a small sample of my collection.)


I love them because they come in so many different colours, and I buy myself a fresh one each time I start a new book. This is horribly wasteful as I never use all the pages (see above about not planning etc.), but there is something very psychologically satisfying about a new notebook for a new project.

This leads neatly onto the second type of notebook. These are the truly beautiful ones. The ones with 160gsm paper so creamy that my pen almost seems to float over the surface. Notebooks with glorious covers, witty covers or covers that are themed to something relevant at that moment. There are notebooks that people buy me as gifts that have been carefully chosen to reflect something the person knows about me. And finally there are the ones that I buy myself because quite frankly, and notwithstanding the fact that I probably have enough notebooks to last me a lifetime, I just can’t resist.

But there’s a problem with this second type.

I can’t write in them.

I love to look at them all lined up on my shelf waiting for exactly the right project. Sometimes I take them down to admire the paper or the cover or the binding. Occasionally, I even get as far as planning what I might use them for.

But I never do. They remain clean, virgin, unsullied by my unworthy hand.

When I mentioned this reluctance on my Instagram account, I was inundated with messages from people all saying the same thing. Everyone appears to have notebooks that they can’t bring themselves to write in.

But why is that?

It seems to come down to one thing. We don’t feel that whatever we use it for will be important enough, and we’re scared of messing up, of making a mistake and spoiling its beauty. It's as if we invest every inch of our self-doubt into the first page of the new notebook. And because we can’t get beyond that fear, our notebooks sit, pristine on our shelves, just waiting.

But they’re just notebooks, right. It’s only paper. And surely, they belong to us and so whatever we choose to write in them will be worthy simply by virtue of the fact that it’s our work. Who is judging us except ourselves? Yet it seems that we are very stern critics.

One of my favourite ways of losing time is to look at #bulletjournal on instagram. Have a look: the standard of artwork for what is basically a glorified to do list is astounding. I’m sure this habit doesn’t help my new notebook phobia. I am not artistic in any way and I'm really quite appallingly bad with a pencil. So when I look at the journals created by all these talented people, it doesn't matter how much I long to make mine as beautiful. I just don’t have the skills. But it seems to colour my thought process. Maybe if I wait long enough I will be hit by a lightening bolt and develop new creative skills (or some such rot.)

There has to be a lesson in here somewhere. Either I stop buying beautiful notebooks (unlikely) or I stop comparing myself to others (tricky) or I stop worrying about messing up my notebook on the first page (most achievable?)

And in the meantime, the beautiful notebooks that I love to own keep stacking up, unmarked, on my shelf.

How about you? Do you have a beautiful notebook habit too? Do you actually use yours?

Want to know more? Then why not sign up for my Readers' Club? I'll send you a monthly newsletter to keep you up to date with all the inside information about life behind the scenes. You can also join me on my Imogen Clark Author Facebook page or Instagram where I post pictures most days.

I look forward to seeing you.