Choosing and Using Your Writer’s Notebook

By Marcus D. Niski

Choosing Your Writer’s Notebook

The notebook is a crucial writing tool for recording observations of place, space, research notes, all of which are fundamental to the ascetic and practical activities of any writer.

Choosing your notebook is a very individual thing and there are no real guidelines for this other than choosing one that looks and feel right for you as an individual.

Believe it or not, I feel that this is a crucial part of the process in as much as that if your notebook does not feel right for you, then there is a good chance that it will sit on the shelf and not fulfill the special role that it is intended to fill.

Some hints and ideas that will help you choose a notebook that is right for you include attention paid to the following:


Try wherever possible to select a notebook that is made of acid free paper, as this paper will inevitably last much longer due to its proper archival quality.

Non-Acid free paper will tend to yellow and break down over the years, hence it is worth spending a little extra to get good long lasting paper on which to write.


Always choose a notebook that is solidly bound, as one which is poorly bound will quickly fall apart when the binding breaks down. The best forms of binding are those that use the traditional sewn paper interleaving and are then glued and finished along traditional classical binding lines.

Physical Feel + Touch:

Crucial: your notebook must have a feel that is right for you otherwise you won’t use it. Feel and touch are vital ingredients to a notebook that you will use


Size is important, as you must think about the maximum size that is satisfactory for you to carry around with you. Notebooks that are too heavy, bulky or awkward will not work well for you.


Don’t spend too little or too much. Remember that once you select a type of notebook that you want to use bear in mind the repeat cost each time you buy one once your old notebook one has been filled up.


Choose a notebook that you will be able to secure a regular supply of once you have settled on a particular type.


Overly ornate notebooks will often cause you to hesitate in using them.

The notebook is to the writer what the camera is to the photographer: an essential tool of observation and recording – so never forget to keep your notebook you at all times – inspiration often strikes randomly and its vital to capture your thoughts freshly and immediately which is the great value of the notebook.

Keeping writer’s notebooks has been one of my greatest enduring pleasures. At times an almost addictive pleasure, but one which is endlessly satisfying.

Marcus D. Niski,  14 May 2017