trying something new

I’ve started using my notebook in a new kind of way. I mean, not revolutionary – I’m still writing words down on blank pages – but still, different than I’m used to.

I *love* pretty notebooks. When it’s time for a new one, I always spend a huge amount of time looking for one that feels right. The problem is, though, when I buy a really beautiful one, or one I really love, either I think it’s too pretty to write in and I put off ever using it. Or I start to get precious about the way I use it. Always one kind of writing, always putting the date in a certain place, trying to keep my writing neat and coherent. And that kind of rigidity can stifle creativity.

I bought my current notebook in a drugstoreĀ for a couple of bucks, right before a road trip. It’s a cheap spiral-bound thing, 200 pages, the kind that’s designed for high school kids. I didn’t want to bring anything precious with me, so this was just going to be a scratchpad. And it turns out that not loading it with any kind of expectations was the best choice ever.

I do actually treat this notebook like a scratchpad. No dates. I jump from one project to another. I scribble down odd sentences and fragments of ideas. I keep lists in there. I jot down quotes that I hear in podcasts. I tear the occasional blank page out to use for a shopping list…

But I’m so much more productive. It’s a great system, particularly when I’m so busy. I don’t need to feel inspired. I don’t need a huge block of time. I can still be creative in the odd minutes that I happen to have.

I stripped away all the ritual around writing and it’s so refreshing.

On Sunday I sat down and typed out the chunks of various projects that have accumulated in there over the last month or so and I was surprised by how much I had. All those little bits and pieces added up!

So I’ve got a new system, at least for the moment. It’s good to shake things up every so often. Although sometimes I think my next notebook will end up being SUPER-beautiful to make up for this…


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