There are many questions that are asked of writers, mainly: “Where do your ideas come from?” “How do you make money?” And my least personal favorite, “Are you going to write about me?” Yet when I think about writing, and more about people who write, I’m more curious about mundane, logistical stuff. Of course, muses and self-expression are interesting, but I want to know more about the configuration of people’s literal writing. Not so much what they write on, but what they write in and on. I want to know everyone’s favorite notebooks, mainly so I can buy them all myself.
As I spoke to writers across the country, I was surprised at how personal and sweet their responses were. People were smiling and laughing when talking about their chosen notebooks, and in email and DM interviews, they used tons of exclamation points and emojis. Everyone’s choice was a little insight into their psyche. Dotted versus ruled versus blank pages, spiral versus stitched binding, fancy stationery or pharmacy paper – the little details gave endearing ideas.
I howled with laughter when Delia Cai, a Vanity Fair senior correspondent and author of the upcoming novel “Central Places,” has revealed she’ll never make it as a stationery influencer.
“I can’t waste hours of my life struggling with a fancy notebook to lay it flat on a table,” Cai told me. “I rely heavily on the same spiral-bound, college-governed Mead notebooks that have gotten me this far. No one is laughing at you in their head for writing in one of these, mostly because they probably think you have a biology degree to work towards.
Cai wasn’t the only writer to praise the single-subject spiral-bound notebook. These writers are drawn to the utilitarian nature and affordability of books. Notebooks don’t feel precious, and in doing so, they make writing more accessible.
Yet many other writers have spoken of their love, if not need, for beautiful fancy notebooks. For them, splurging on beautiful, high-quality paper is exciting and rewarding. A personal favorite quote came from a reporter who will remain anonymous, referring to herself as “a notebook female dog, for real.”
Cai’s farewell advice, which I find quite insightful, was that “the most important quality a notebook should have is that it doesn’t embarrass me in public.” Your notebook can be a small extension of your mind, so you deserve the one that’s right for you. Check out the writers’ picks below.
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