Writing Daily in a Scrap Paper Notebook Has Made Me More Creative

A non-precious notebook might be the key to boosting your creative process, too

Ellane W

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Cartoon lineart showing a person sitting crosslegged on the floor, holding out an open notebook with writing inside it. Next to them is a stack of printed paper, and an empty wastepaper bin.
Image by Author

Section 1, Where I unapologetically claim the fussbudget crown

I’ve heard that the things that bring us the most joy, also have the potential to deliver the greatest pain. It’s true! If you’ve ever parented a teen or experienced the delight of picking up a stunningly beautiful notebook only to discover dark, 8 millimetre-spaced lines inside, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Why would a designer ever think it’d be okay to smack us in the face with whopping great lines like that?? I’ll attempt to answer this question by putting on three different attitude hats.

  • Magnanimous: they’re catering to people with big handwriting, or who need dark lines because of low vision issues
  • Cynical: they’re nothing but profit-motivated ecommerce heads who went with the cheapest option in whatever app they were using
  • Victim: they delight in torturing those of us who know how to spell both Hobonichi and Leuchtturm

A good cover is important to me, but the right kind of paper and line spacing is vital if I want my thoughts to dance onto the page, carefree, rather than feeling like they’ve been laced into a corset and expected to march to a military tune. Settle in; there’s more hyperbole where that came from!

Screenshots of Spirax and Moleskine cahier notebooks. Text reads: 7mm ruled lines; lines are nice and light, not slashes of pain destroying any chance of coaxing words of insight and wisdom from your pen; product images show the inside of the book (most don’t)
Image by Author, using screenshots from The Stationery Store, and OfficeWorks

For the love of stationery, get the spacing right or keep the page blank!

Give me pale grey 6–7 millimetre-spaced lines, or give me a blank page. Please. Whether you call it snobbery or call it being opinionated, the truth is that I know what I like, and I know what distracts me. YMMV, as they say.

A light grey dot-grid I can understand, even though I can’t bear using one myself. It’s beautiful, and — intellectually, at least — I know it’s practical, but in reality, I can’t help seeing dot-grid pages as a game…

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Ellane W

Designer and educational publisher for 30 years+. Plain-text advocate. Still using paper, but less of it. https://linktr.ee/miscellaneplans