Friday Fun – Notebooks

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, writing-related question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: It’s back-to-school time, so let’s talk about notebooks. Do you prefer hardbound, spiral, looseleaf, or some other type?

Jamie Wallace: Well, Wendy wrote a pretty comprehensive post early on in our Live 2 Write-Write 2 Live history about her quest for the perfect notebook; but when it comes to back-to-school season, there’s always something more to be said. It wasn’t until recent years that my daughter has been old enough to require the annual trip to Staples for a few shopping bags full of notebooks, crayons, markers, and gluesticks. This year, she’s entering the third grade (yikes!) and I’m already looking forward to the end-of-summer pilgrimage. When it comes to notebooks, I’m all about the spiral bound. I love the look of the perfect bound and stitched notebooks, but I need something that lies flat. I also like a cover with some backbone to it. Lastly, I like pretty notebooks. If a store carries a nice selection of designs, I can easily find myself headed to the checkout line with a half dozen new notebooks in-hand. There’s just something about all that crisp, clean, empty space. It’s utterly irresistible. My current favorites are the Sustainable Earth collection from Staples. I hope they never stop making these.

Deborah Lee Luskin: Oh, how I love a notebook, let me count the ways: miniature loose-leaf (my first, age nine); green (paper and cover) spiral bound, throughout high school; bound chemistry lab books through college; typed and bound through graduate school; a few arty, hard bound blank books now and again; but mostly, a motley variety of wire bound notebooks. I prefer the half-sheet side, and used to only buy college ruled paper. No longer. Now, I keep a small notebook in the car, another I try to carry with me. These are for ideas I want to capture when I’m out and about. I type my journal into my laptop – it’s part of my ritual for arriving at my desk and tapping into my imagination.

Julie Hennrikus: I find that nice journals and notebooks often go barely used. They don’t feel worthy of my scribblings. I know, I know. I love speckled composition books. They are a great size, sturdy, cheap this time of year, and can go anywhere. I also love moleskin books–pricier, but wonderful for travel journals, etc.


Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson: This time of year is bad for me…all the back to school sales with great prices on notebooks is just SO enticing! Spiral bound are the cleanest for me, as a lefty, but I love the hard cover composition notebooks. Just this year I recently started using a lot of flip pads – no bindings to worry about. Last year I found a wonderful folio where the flip pad can be on the right side or the left, which also makes writing easier. Loose papers are not an option, even if I have 3-ring binders to put the pages in. I’m just not that efficient. I have too many notebooks to possibly fill, and I’m about to buy more. I’m a writer…they’re notebooks, how can I resist?  🙂

13 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Notebooks

  1. Lefty Laura likes the composition books, steno pads or yellow-lined pads and I go through lots of them writing down story notes, outlines, research notes, etc. I don’t like the three ring binds either, Lisa – and I don’t like the products you can buy made especially for lefties because they look out of place storing them. I write in beautiful journal books sometimes, but mostly, I use my keyboard because I’m an excellent typist and it’s more efficient. Plus, it’s not as stressful on my hands (arthritic).

  2. Ahhh such a serious question! But alas! My memories of buying notebooks was serious business! When I was younger a notebook symbolized fresh beginnings… new chances to write the first words on those new pages that might earn me an A+.
    Spiral notebooks are fine if they are for notebooks that don’t require you to tear out their pages and then hand in assignments. There is nothing that make torn out spiral rips look better. Unless they have the perferated pages.
    But such a great question when you really get into it…. I remember the Peechee folders at first and then all the ones to follow with hot colors and little animals or licensed characters adorning them. My kids used to spend hours choosing just the right ones. And then as they got older, it was just “the 2″ white notebooks are fine mom.” And now they are old enough to buy their own notebooks… and it makes me mourn choosing just the right notebook. So let this be a reminder to all you moms out there still fighting the back to school aisles! Enjoy the choosing of the notebook days! It IS serious business! Sigh.

  3. Notebooks! With fresh, clean, crisp pages! Who could resist those? While in school, I preferred the big spiral notebooks with perforations on the side of the pages and a pocket on the back cover. When I became serious with my journal writing, I went crazy over hardbound notebooks that looked more like art pieces than notebooks. I still buy the hardbound kind and use these for days when I like to write in long-hand. In fact, I could see 4 never-been-used artsy hardbound notebooks peeking out of my desk drawer.

  4. I use Blueline recycled hard cover notebooks from Canada. I buy them by the case. I don’t like spirals at all — the wires come loose and catch on things — if there is something I like with a spiral, like a calendar, I clip the spirals out with wire cutters and thread ribbon through the holes instead — it looks better, still lays flat and won’t catch on anything. I do this with journals and sketchbooks as well, should anyone give me spirals. But I write more online than I used to. Then I print things out, punch holes in them and store them in ring binders on bookshelves. Works for me.

  5. I’m a notebook junkie – I love them all – leather, moleskin – to the Mickey Mouse spiral in the dollar general store – I hate to shop – I compensate myself with nifty looking pen or pencil and a notebook – and I use them all.

  6. I have different notebooks for different moods and types of writing but my favourite is a yellow moleskin covered one. I also love pretty ones with birds or butterflies on of which I have many!

  7. There is definitely something about writers and notebooks, isn’t there.
    I always carry a small notebook with me wherever I go – I feel lost without one. I’d as soon go somewhere without my wallet!
    I am also a sucker for spiral-bound notebooks, A3 size. I cannot seem to write my novel straight onto the computer, but have tochannel it through my writing hand from the creative source to the page. Then I put it onto the computer and edit.
    I also keep a journal, and do that mostly straight to paper as well. There is something basic about it that typing to a screen doesn’t do.
    I love your Friday Fun, and it gets me thinking too. I must reply now and then instead of just reading from the email. 🙂

  8. Along with a motley assortment of notebooks I absolutely have to have a little black notebook, the artist’s kind, with an elastic strap – which goes with me everywhere. This is a timely post – I recently wrote a piece called Little Black Notebook. Can I break a rule (I never put links in replies) and mention that I posted it on my blog, Please forgive this, all of you, and let me say how enjoyable it’s been reading all these responses. I have to side with the spiral-bound fanatics and try to avoid going into stationery shops too often as I am utterly in thrall to notebooks which are the one thing I can’t resist letting myself buy.

  9. It’s so funny to me that I should stumble across your blog and this topic. Notebooks have been on my mind of late, I’m even reading a book on writers using notebooks now. I suppose I still search for my perfect format and, I suppose it says a lot about me. Truth be told I suppose I like those old composition notebooks. I like they way they feel and the size of them. But they do not offer easy escape routes. You can not easily tear a page out should you desire, and I desire all the time. Spirals make it TOO easy. You rip it out and toss it, when it might have seemed just fine after a taco or two.
    And I do love those Moleskins.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed reading your blog,

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