Like many writers, I have a collection of notebooks of all kinds. From Moleskins to school composition books. Gilt-edged tomes, bespoke journals made of heirloom fabric and hand stitched. Ruled and unruled paper, or unlined. None of them work for me, though. The fancier the notebook is, the more daunting it is to fill with scribbles. Those books and journals are a pleasure to have and hold. But I always think that I need perfect handwriting to fill those pages. I write messily. It’s full of crossed out words and misspellings and my handwriting, though perfectly legible, is not aesthetically pleasing and switches between block letters to scrawling across the paper. What works for me is a notebook that can lie flat, so I’ve turned to spiral notebooks. I find them less intimidating and they don’t inhibit the flow.
Where I indulge in whimsy is in the ink I use. I have an arsenal of multicolored gel pens I use. The various colors denote the different writing sessions. It might be blue ink for a morning session and black for a late night impromptu spurt of inspiration. It’s also visually appealing to consult a page filled with different hues.
I have three “active” notebooks — one for short fiction, another for whatever novel I’m working on, and one for blogging/non fiction. My process is making notes, sketching scenes, coming up with character names in ink and using that as jumping off points/warm up techniques before I start computer work. When I’m stuck, I return to the notebooks and comb them for ideas or jot down ideas for future sessions. My A Spectral Hue notebook, for instance, is filled with anything from complete scenes to random lists of words. My process is somewhat chaotic and amorphous, and it took a long time to develop. I have found that while I mostly draft things on computer, putting actual ink to actual paper has to occur at some moment in the act of creation.