Why You Should Carry A Notebook

We’ve all heard it. Writers carry notebooks everywhere. Or a ” good” writer does.


But why a notebook? Why can’t you just flip open your phone to your notes app and type it?

why you should carry a notebook

I find that, however fantastic my iPhone, notes app and/or Evernote is, the lag time for a app to open is enough for me to lose the spirit of the idea.


Which is funny, because grabbing a pen out of a handbag can be a longer exercise. (In related news, I need to clean out my handbag.)


I think it’s because these iPhones (or whatever device you have) as such amazing gadgets that let you have access to nearly anything you want or need, that it’s easy to think about what else you could be doing, and lose your train of thought.


So you’re waiting for an app to open and a blank note to change screens. Then you think, hey, while I’m here, I could check twitter. And so on it goes.


While a notepad can be full of plenty of ideas, it lacks the real time connectivity to them all and the ability to search them. Or, I should say, you search them the old fashioned way, with your eyes and brain. Therefore a notepad can contain it all, but doesn’t have load times or the ability to distract you in the same way.


The next problem is how to manage the notebooks. I love stationery, and have too many notebooks! What I’m trying to do is transition into viewing notebooks as a cross between a creative journal and a field notebook.


For a while I thought having a multiple subject notebook, with one subject area for each blog/idea would work. Or one notebook for each topic. It really didn’t, because I have fantastic shiny object syndrome.


I know buzzfeed gets some bad stuff said about it, but I really liked this video on creativity.


How do you manage your ideas? Notebooks? Physical/digital? Any tips to share?


Vanessa Smith


  1. Oh how I love my notebooks! I have quite a few and just can’t bear to be without them. I’ve tried condensing them and using online or apps but I always feel safer and more authentic with my notebooks. I have one for each fiction project, one for ideas/writing prompts/phrases etc, one for my freelance ideas, one for freelance pitches and commissioned articles. I’m a tragic!

  2. I’m such a notebook girl. I always have a few on the go. I need to be more organised though because I often get them mixed up! But it makes me feel more secure to know everything is written down somewhere instead of relying on an app. I have a paper diary too. I guess I’m old-fashioned.

  3. I’ve recently started using Evernote and I LOVE it. Mainly because I can enter notes anywhere I have internet access (mobile, desktop, laptop, tablet) and access them again anywhere else on the internet. I can also save web links & pictures to it. It’s saved me a lot of time with losing bits and pieces along the way.

    Having said that, I do also still carry an actual notebook around with me in my handbag for times when that’s easier.

    • Evernote is fantastic… but that load time or if I’m in a blackspot, I just can’t quite do without a physical notebook.

  4. Mainly I just jot stuff down which isn’t very organised of me and as I sit here I’ve got 6 or 7 notebooks all with different ideas from different times! Wouldn’t use phone as would distract me, unless it’s all I had! Em – also visiting as part of #teamIBOT

  5. I mostly use my phone, because in my house kids are likely to steak my notepads and draw all over them :)
    Having said that, autocorrect is usually at work against me, particularly if I am typing a note fast (because I just have to get it out), and sometimes I come back to things and think ‘what was I trying to write????’

    • How did I miss this comment…sorry for the uber-late reply :(

      Great tip for parents though – make sure your fantastic ideas won’t be drawn over by children :)

  6. Since I got into Filofax I’ve discovered a world of people who are fans of the “Midori Travellor’s Notebook” which as far as I can tell is kind of like a Moleskine. They look lovely and the way that people use them for different things is just amazing! I watch tons of YouTube vids on decorating, organisation tips etc.
    I’ve tried carrying one in the past only to feel weighted down by a notebook, now I use my phone BUT you have a point about the lapse between having an idea and opening the app.
    Maybe I need a baby notebook?

    • A really small pocket sized one is probably a good idea. (And sorry for the late reply!)

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