I’m a man who loves stationary. I can spend up to an hour in Paperchase. I could spend a portion of time in Waterstones looking at the stationary. Rymans is perfectly nice too. The point is, I really love stationary. Actually, I really love paper. Pens are okay, though often seem overpriced to me. Paper though. Whooph. You can’t put a price on that.
Where does it come from? My love of books? My love of tactile experiences – like dipping my hand in a bag of seeds, errrrrm YES PLEASE! ? What is it about blank notebooks and pads of paper that keep me coming back? I mean, I have gadgets, I have plenty of digital storage places that are much more convenient for note taking than actual paper. So why do I keep just seeing what they have if I stroll past a stationary shop?
On my desk, which is pretty messy, I have books and notebooks just about everywhere. This morning, I looked through a selection of four – in two of them were notes from around this time last year, when I was tutoring at UEA. Another had been designated my ‘book club’ notes – really interesting to read again, by the way. And also, who wants to start a book club, friends??! – and the fourth and final one, conveniently, fatefully at the bottom of the pile… A total blank. Crisp, clean, clear white pages (well, a kind of cream colour – premium paper grade). An optimistic little clutch of pages waiting for ideas to be expanded upon, waiting for thoughts to be jotted down, waiting… Waiting… Full of poise, promise, potential, paper. Full of the possibility of becoming pages of notes that I’ll look over in another year’s time, and briefly be transported back to where I am now.
There’s something personal, isn’t there, about handwriting notes. As if your thoughts are travelling down from your brain, into your shoulder, along your arm, into your fingertips and out onto the page through the conduit we call a pen. Your handwriting is what it looks like inside your head. My handwriting is loopy.
Evernote, much as I like and use it simply can’t compete with that ancient, infinitely flexible, physically strenuous (sometimes) act. It makes it too easy. Writing should be hard. It should be messy handwriting, crossed out misspelt words. It should be the physical embodiment of you wrenching your ideas out. It should be challenging. And sometimes it takes finding a new, unblemished notebook to remind you of that, and all the possibilities that a blank page holds.
Overall, I highly recommend discovering a pristine notebook and jotting something down in it. Even if you forget about it for a year or more, it only makes its rediscovery more rich for future you. For a similar experience, buy or steal a new notebook. (don’t steal)