On Notebooks and Media

I’m a big fan of NPR’s Linda Holmes — perhaps best known for hosting POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR and the author of EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER and FLYING SOLO — so, unsurprisingly, I quite enjoyed these musings extolling the virtues of physical notebooks.

I’ve been using notebooks most of my life. While I’ve jotted down almost all of my writerly drafts — including this post — via Scrivener.app for at least a decade, I use notebooks to err, well, note certain thoughts I have on what I’m watching or playing or reading or hearing.

I usually have two notebooks going at once (specifically Field Notes notebooks as I find Moleskines to feel too precious): one that lives in what we colloquially call the ‘media room’ — most people would name it as a dining room, but it’s where we watch tv/films and play games more often than eat. The other I carry from place to place, so I don’t have to run to my computer to jot a musing down and then get distracted, or it’s used while I’m out reading in the wild.

Additionally, I’m one of those folks for whom physically penning something gives it greater permanence in my mind, as opposed to word-vomiting into a digital word processor. I label the works on the front once I’ve wrapped it up and can transcribe the notes for easier searching. It’s a workflow that I’ve found to be positive for me.

One qualm I have about Holmes’s post?

“I kid you not, white out — AKA liquid paper — which we used to use in the olden days to cover mistakes made in pen. They make it in the form of tape now, so you don’t have to paint it on like nail polish and blow on it.”

I assume this was a bit of convenient underscoring, as I doubt that Holmes was unaware that correction tape predates liquid paper. It was frequently used by those who utilized typewriters, which I certainly did for many years — despite having a computer and WordPerfect as a youth — because it was far more tactile and memorable and put me in a different headspace. (In fact, a friend just gifted me a typewriter recently, which will live side-by-side with my departed grandmother’s typewriter.)