Ask The Desk: Notebook Block

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Following my post last week on Keeping a Notebook, reader Barbara asked:

I have notebook block. Not writer’s block, I write but on the backs of envelopes, receipts, those damn cards that fall out of magazines, etc. I own about two dozen notebooks of all types and sizes but I cannot bring myself to write in them.
Has anyone else experienced this? Any ideas for breaking through?

My recommendation for you, Barbara, is to find a notebook that you don’t think is precious. Don’t start keeping your spark book or grocery lists in a handbound leather journal purchased during a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Venice (I should know I have one still in its waxy brown paper bag wrapped by the creator).

If you think your “good” notebooks should only have really good stuff in them, buy a cheap notebook or something that is easy to replace like a kraft Field Notes, a plain black Moleskine or even a wire-bound notebook from your local office supply store. When I think I may just be writing garbage for work or doodling my way through meetings, I grab a classic composition notebook with the black marble cover. I can pick one up at an office supply store or drugstore for less than $3. Maybe tape or staple some of your envelopes and receipts into your notebook so your new book is not pristine?

If your goal is to have a notebook full of brilliant stories and observations, remember that we all have to start somewhere. I recommend checking out Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way to learn about Morning Pages and to help overcome the blank page.

Best of luck and I hope you just dive in!

0 comment on Ask The Desk: Notebook Block

  1. Mary
    March 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm (3 years ago)

    I have the same problem. Field Notes notebooks have helped. They’re small and feel less precious, but they’re still unique and fun…perfect combo. I keep all kinds of lists in mine, and will start journaling in one TODAY! Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  2. Heather
    March 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm (3 years ago)

    For me, it is often simply the act of starting a new notebook that is the hardest. And once I have at least one thing written in there, it’s easier to fill the other pages. To get over that, I often start a notebook by writing a test page of all of my pens and inks. Or you could try writing a favourite quote on the first page.

  3. Barbara
    March 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you very much! It’s a real problem for me, I’ve always been plagued by a weird form of perfectionism. Not that I’ve ever done anything in my life anywhere near perfectly but I find that first mark the hardest.
    Years ago I had an art teacher who would stand by my easel, grab a brush and put a swath of oil paint down the center of my canvas to mobilize me.
    I love the idea of stapling some of my scraps into a fresh notebook and I like the quote idea as well. I have at least a dozen Moleskine notebooks but I think I’ll begin with a very inexpensive wire-bound Mead. (even the Moleskine intimidate me at this point)


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