Too Many Notebooks

Some of the myriad notebooks crammed into my study

There are very few things I love more than the crisp, white pages of a new notebook. The massive stack on my shelves (as well as in storage) attests to that. Ever since I became semi-literate, I’ve recorded anything and everything. As a child, it was lists. I was obsessed with lists. But as my grasp of the written English language grew, so did what I recorded.

You can peer inside my mind, study its evolution, simply by reading what I wrote. At age 13/14, for instance, I was obsessed with writing horrendous poetry, spewing out this drivel onto pages and pages. Then suddenly, it stopped when an upperclassman mocked my work. I never wrote another poem. By looking at my old notebooks, I can pinpoint exactly when this happened. Even the way I phrased things is telling, such as the point in my tweens where I tried to use big words to sound smarter. (I loved the word pulchritudinous, and it shows.)

These days, I regularly use four different notebooks. I thought I’d share a bit about them in the hope that maybe you too will be inspired to write these things down.


Every day for the last seven years, I’ve written in my diary. The number of days I’ve missed can be counted on one hand. Writing a minimum of a page a day, I’ve thus far filled 16 notebooks with a 17th almost full. Rather than describing my entire day, I pick a scene or two and elaborate with as much detail as I can remember. I write it in the style and structure of a short story. Not only has the quality of my writing improved, but my sense of observation is also much stronger.

Commonplace Book

I started this notebook when I read Night Train to Lisbon by Peter Bieri. The novel is full of philosophical discourse, and so many ideas came to me that I had to write them down or lose them forever. After that, I neglected this notebook for a while. But I’m back at it again, as a place to put down my thoughts as I read.

Observation Notebook

This slim Moleskine notebook is invaluable. Small enough to fit in my coat pocket, it allows me to jot down observations as they occur. More than that, I can write down ideas for stories before my forgetful brain loses them. I hope to carry this book on my person for the entirety of 2022 and beyond.

Writing Progress

Inspired by Ray Bradbury’s advice for writers, I use this notebook to record my progress: the daily stories I read, the weekly stories I write, and everything else I do writing-related. On the surface, it seems a little silly, even a little unnecessary. But the satisfaction from writing down my accomplishments inspires me to keep going.

If that wasn’t enough, I’m hoping to start a “Dream Notebook.” It’s an untapped well of creativity that I should be using, and I’m excited to see what my subconscious has for me.

Is this too many notebooks? Probably. I’m running out of space in my study and still they keep piling up. A smart solution would be to do it digitally. There is a plethora of apps just for that purpose. But I love the heft of a notebook, the scratch of a pen, even the cramp in my hand from writing too long.

And I’ll keep at it until there is no more room in my house.


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