PDA

View Full Version : I need a notebook for a novel.



Deepthought
12-09-2014, 06:13 AM
I write longhand for drafts. I have those generic composition books that are fine for holding shorter pieces. However, the problem for me is that the vast majority of notebooks (including the composition notebook) don't have enough space to hold a full novel for the rough draft. I basically multiplied lines per side by number of sides in the book by how many words I can write per line. And then I take out a few thousand from the result to accommodate for notes I write (often in parenthesis right there so I don't interrupt the flow, just let the ideas come out in a straight line, although other notes are written in that big blank space on the top of each page) and for paragraph spacing (although, I just write dialogue from multiple characters on a single line, as formatting is unimportant there. Also, I just skip a line or else just write next ch. for the next chapter or section or whatever instead of going to the next page.) There are the common choices, like Moleskine, but they don't have enough space.

For the composition notebook, I get around 70,000 words. I am currently using a Black N Red 11.75" by 8.25" notebook, which is around 95,000, which should be okay for my current project, but it still isn't something I can go to for something else. It is kind of big too, so isn't the most ergonomic. The hardcover stops the overlarge papers from bending back, preserving rigidity, so that is okay, but a hardcover wouldn't be needed for something smaller. Something smaller with more pages would be ideal (composition notebook has 200 vs Black N Red with 196). I'd like if I can fold the book all the way around and write on it without anything breaking or losing much integrity. I considered those spiral bounds, but most of them are floppy. I think a decent spiral bound with above average page count, not one of the low cost ones, might be good. But then the spiral part gets too big with too many pages, like if I take out those folders of a multi-subject notebook to make it a single uniform thing, and I hate those. Which I shouldn't have to do anyway... Perhaps there is something like a leather (or other material) cover type thing where I can just refill with notebook paper to suit my needs. But then, those are just overlarge binders where the pages get ripped out too easily. And those three holes in each page are really annoying too. I have to adapt to them, not the other way around. Three times per page, six times per sheet. How dare they have such audacity! Ridiculous. Yeah, I'm picky. End rant.

So, suggestions?

mccardey
12-09-2014, 06:21 AM
I have no suggestions, but I wanted to commend what is a truly celestial piece of procrastination. It has maths and everytihng! Well done, you!

:Trophy:

Helix
12-09-2014, 06:21 AM
Use two notebooks?

Brightdreamer
12-09-2014, 06:28 AM
How about a three-ring binder and lined paper? You can add (or remove) pages as you need to.

RedWombat
12-09-2014, 06:35 AM
You could take up bookbinding?

Seriously, it's a neat art in and of itself, and you can make whatever sort of book works for you.

JustSarah
12-09-2014, 06:37 AM
Ok I think I'm understanding now.

Basically I tend to use about 300 to 500 pages of notebook paper in a large binder.

I couldn't imagine drafting 90,000 words. Though I know Poe had to in his age. I don't believe the typewriter was written yet.

Sage
12-09-2014, 07:00 AM
Ah, this is a bit like me coming to folks online to choose a restaurant for me:

It has to be nearby, say within half an hour, but preferably closer, as it's getting dark and I hate driving in cities I don't know after dark, even with the GPS. And I don't eat fruit or seafood. I'm actually really picky, so the fancier the restaurant, the less likely I'll find choices to eat that don't require massive requests to change the recipe. But I also want to avoid fast food. Someplace with internet would be good because I like having internet, but I'm really sick of Panera, so not there. And maybe I'd prefer to pick up and come back to the hotel room if it's close enough. Oh, yeah, and I have to make sure that it costs less than my remaining per diem, with maybe some money to spare so I can pick up water and breakfast-to-go for tomorrow morning so that I don't have to find a place to stop in the morning. So, Internet, choose a place for me.

(I assume the rest of the conversation would be me telling people why their suggestions don't work for me because, of course, nobody can tell me exactly what I want for dinner but me)

ETA: BTW, I totally understand the dilemma of finding the perfect notebook and how stressful that can be (and the right restaurant), I just also know that if I asked others for recs, I'd never be satisfied with the recs.

Deepthought
12-09-2014, 07:42 AM
Haha yeah, I think we writers are a picky bunch.
I'd like to have all the work in a single place.
The overall feel of using 3 hole binder refills has a host of problems, but it would solve the length issue.
Huh, bookbinding could be cool. I don't think I could spend the effort to do it, but Etsy has some really cool stuff on it.
I tend to cram everything in one place. But 90,000 is kinda tight, yeah...
Maybe there is no perfect answer. Huh, time to browse online and procrastinate more- I mean, research! Yes! For the project!

mccardey
12-09-2014, 07:49 AM
Huh, time to browse online and procrastinate more- I mean, research! Yes! For the project!

FWIW, I spent a long time thinking about your first post, and I've decided that the way that works best for me (I'm also largely long-hand) is a bunch of cheap spiral notebooks. I write on the right hand page only, and leave the left for corrections and suffer truly incapacitating grief about the loss of all those trees.

In the old house, after my son had left for Uni I inherited his study with a huge wrap-around desk that was made out of something you could (as it turned out) scribble on with a felt pen. God, I loved that desk. I wrote all the best bits of Last Novel on it and wept when we sold it.

(There was ancient chewing-gum stuck underneath it, we realised when we were packing it. Even that doesn't spoil the memory, for me. I loved that desk. :cry: )

Locke
12-09-2014, 08:16 AM
Most anything I intend to work on publish-wise gets typed rather than written, but I have a ton of little journals and whatnot around. If I were going to try to exacerbate my carpal tunnel by writing an entire novel longhand, I'd probably start with a Mead Five Star five-subject notebook and rip out the subject dividers. The cover has the firm yet forgiving nature of Sister Margaret Francis while still offering anywhere from plain to incredibly distracting designs (noting that you don't want a big, spiral-bound notebook...). Then I'd pick up a couple of wrist compress braces, a jumbo jar of pain reliever, maybe a book or two on improving my handwriting, two packs of Pilot Precise V5 RT's (one pack blue, one pack red), and set aside some savings for various alcoholic motivators.

It turns out I'm pickier about what I'm writing with rather than what I'm writing on. I mean, so long as the paper doesn't look like it was hewn from Satan's calloused feet, and so long as it doesn't bleed like a car mechanic with a skin allergy, I'm generally good. However, my preference for smooth fine-points, not to mention the Lamy Safari currently hiding on my wish list, will place greater demands on the quality of my canvas. So, by all means, if you want to push your procrastination to the next level, consider not only the paper, but the pen as well.

tl;dr, get composition books that can be put in 3-ring binders so when you have overflow you can keep them together, yet not have those annoying rings in the way when you're doing the actual writing.

mccardey
12-09-2014, 08:28 AM
h a Mead Five Star five-subject notebook and rip out the subject dividers. The cover has the firm yet forgiving nature of Sister Margaret Francis

I just wikied Sr Margaret Francis - and she's real!

You're my second favourite writer, now. :Hug2:

Locke
12-09-2014, 08:36 AM
Really? I just queried the dark recesses of my brain for "name that sounds like it belongs to a nun" and that's what it spat back out at me, just before it said "now leave me alone, puny mortal."

mccardey
12-09-2014, 08:43 AM
Really? I just queried the dark recesses of my brain for "name that sounds like it belongs to a nun" and that's what it spat back out at me, just before it said "now leave me alone, puny mortal."

I like you even more! I have invented entire Orders just for the consonance, in my time....

Locke
12-09-2014, 08:49 AM
I like you even more! I have invented entire Orders just for the consonance, in my time....
I used to do that, but all of the chanting made it difficult to sleep.

(<-- is feeling particularly silly for no good reason)

Deepthought
12-09-2014, 08:55 AM
FWIW, I spent a long time thinking about your first post, and I've decided that the way that works best for me (I'm also largely long-hand) is a bunch of cheap spiral notebooks. I write on the right hand page only, and leave the left for corrections and suffer truly incapacitating grief about the loss of all those trees.

In the old house, after my son had left for Uni I inherited his study with a huge wrap-around desk that was made out of something you could (as it turned out) scribble on with a felt pen. God, I loved that desk. I wrote all the best bits of Last Novel on it and wept when we sold it.

(There was ancient chewing-gum stuck underneath it, we realised when we were packing it. Even that doesn't spoil the memory, for me. I loved that desk. :cry: )
When I was little, my parents had this great squashy leather armchair in the living room. To me, it was so big and cuddly and my tiny frame just sank right in. Alas, we moved, it it could not move with us.

Most anything I intend to work on publish-wise gets typed rather than written, but I have a ton of little journals and whatnot around. If I were going to try to exacerbate my carpal tunnel by writing an entire novel longhand, I'd probably start with a Mead Five Star five-subject notebook and rip out the subject dividers. The cover has the firm yet forgiving nature of Sister Margaret Francis while still offering anywhere from plain to incredibly distracting designs (noting that you don't want a big, spiral-bound notebook...). Then I'd pick up a couple of wrist compress braces, a jumbo jar of pain reliever, maybe a book or two on improving my handwriting, two packs of Pilot Precise V5 RT's (one pack blue, one pack red), and set aside some savings for various alcoholic motivators.

It turns out I'm pickier about what I'm writing with rather than what I'm writing on. I mean, so long as the paper doesn't look like it was hewn from Satan's calloused feet, and so long as it doesn't bleed like a car mechanic with a skin allergy, I'm generally good. However, my preference for smooth fine-points, not to mention the Lamy Safari currently hiding on my wish list, will place greater demands on the quality of my canvas. So, by all means, if you want to push your procrastination to the next level, consider not only the paper, but the pen as well.

tl;dr, get composition books that can be put in 3-ring binders so when you have overflow you can keep them together, yet not have those annoying rings in the way when you're doing the actual writing.

My handwriting is terrible. My father always said it was like someone dipped an ant in ink and let it run. In middle school the teacher asked me a question on the homework, and I couldn't even understand what the heck I wrote. She came over, examined the writing, and said I had written the correct answer. I still don't understand what happened; I doubt it was pity though.
Good idea on the 3 ring binder, I think I'll give that a shot. It's just the idea of having everything in a neat package I've unfortunately fixated on, most likely from the university, with ideas of "portability" and "lightweight". Oh well, I hope I'll grow out of it. My productivity has gone up tremendously using longhand though; no internet, and I can stare at the thing without tiring my eyes for hours on end, and I can adjust my position with ease. It's amazing.

About those Pilot pens- the problem is that I only like to use a single writing utensil, not multiple, as having more components is bothersome. Also, it means I must break the workflow by switching between them. In addition to that, it-oops, I've gone too far now, haven't I?

mccardey
12-09-2014, 08:58 AM
....


....


....

About those Pilot pens- the problem is that I only like to use a single writing utensil, not multiple, as having more components is bothersome. Also, it means I must break the workflow by switching between them. In addition to that, it-oops, I've gone too far now, haven't I?

I think what we're seeing here is a Procrastinatic Attack. We should prolly avert our eyes (as Sr Margaret Francis would have us do...)

Locke
12-09-2014, 09:03 AM
You haven't gone too far enough. Please, it's a writer's forum. We have an entire vocabulary dedicated to the act of procrastination.

Regarding eye strain, I've been known to set a keyboard in my lap (either my wireless from my laptop or a wired one connected to my tablet it's backwards, I know) and not even look at anything while banging away at the keys. It's remarkably freeing, actually, until you realize your left hand for the past hour was shifted one position off from the "home keys" snf noyhinh sy sll mskrd sny drndr.

The different colored pens, by the way, is merely for helping make the editing stand out. I wouldn't dream of trying to do both in one sitting. Sure, you only need the red pens once you've started making editing notes for the first transcription into the twenty-first century, but I make alot of mistakes.

Hapax Legomenon
12-09-2014, 09:33 AM
Use two notebooks?

Yeah, seriously...

I regularly write first drafts longhand. When I decide to type it's the exception to the rule. My last novel was ~85,000 words and I spread it out over three notebooks. It's not a big deal to use multiple notebooks. In fact when you finish one you kind of feel like you've accomplished something...


As for pens I use brightly colored orange and pink to write. However this is because I still live with my folks and these colors do not lend themselves to easily be read across the dinner table.

Deepthought
12-09-2014, 09:42 AM
You haven't gone too far enough. Please, it's a writer's forum. We have an entire vocabulary dedicated to the act of procrastination.

Regarding eye strain, I've been known to set a keyboard in my lap (either my wireless from my laptop or a wired one connected to my tablet it's backwards, I know) and not even look at anything while banging away at the keys. It's remarkably freeing, actually, until you realize your left hand for the past hour was shifted one position off from the "home keys" snf noyhinh sy sll mskrd sny drndr.

The different colored pens, by the way, is merely for helping make the editing stand out. I wouldn't dream of trying to do both in one sitting. Sure, you only need the red pens once you've started making editing notes for the first transcription into the twenty-first century, but I make alot of mistakes.

I've got it! Turn up the brightness and tape a piece of specially cut paper onto the screen so it fills the screen precisely. Psychologically, it may seem like epaper, allowing one to benefit by typing on paper. Kind of.

Good point on the pens, I'll just stick to using pencil for writing and notes, then edit later with the pens, or perhaps do it on the laptop after banging it out. I ordered a set, can't wait! An accidental discovery: I broke the clip of a mechanical lead pencil. Turns out, it's better now because I need to turn the pencil around periodically to retain the sharpness of line (which could have been remedied by using a finer type, I suppose.) Because it broke clean off, the whole thing is now uniform, preventing the clip from inhibiting the turns. It used to be slightly raised at times, as it got between the pencil itself and the bit between the thumb and index finger knuckles. I'll be breaking a few more.

BenPanced
12-09-2014, 10:03 AM
1. Go to a store.
2. Do they sell notebooks?


YES: go to 3
NO: go to 4

3. Buy notebook
4. Go home.
5. Write.

mccardey
12-09-2014, 10:10 AM
1. Go to a store.
2. Do they sell notebooks?


YES: go to 3
NO: go to 4

3. Buy notebook
4. Go home.
5. Write.

Oh, there is so much more to it than that.

Once!
12-09-2014, 12:12 PM
My notebook has a plug.

Okay, that wasn't the answer you wanted. I'll put my serious head on ...

You may have come up against an intractable problem. The ideal notebook for you would be (a) small enough to handle and (b) have enough pages for you to get to the end of a typical book.

That may be an impossible ask. You want something to be big and small at the same time. It's an eat what you want diet. An honest politician. A contradiction in terms.

Until and unless you find a perfect notebook out there, it looks like you are going to have to compromise somewhere. A ring binder, perhaps. Two notebooks.

Personally, I would hate the idea of trying to write a book longhand in only one notebook. I edit a lot, so the text would quickly become illegible. And I would hate the idea of reaching the last page and run out of space. Or finish before the last page and be teased by the thought of the words I hadn't written to get to the end.

That's why my notebook has a plug.

Lillith1991
12-09-2014, 12:44 PM
Why, hello procrastination fairy. Put me down as mostly a binder person when it comes to long hand, as well as being someone who prefers a nice gel pen to other forms of writing impliment.

All joking aside, I feel your pain. I have one or two projects I'm determined to write completely longhand from start to finish, and finding the right notebook has been a pain in the ass. I still don't know what I want to use, but I know the traits I want. My perfect notebook? Not too big, 100+ pages, and college ruled for more writing room. There's something that comes close at the market up the street, and I'm thinking of getting that and calling it a day.

Sage
12-09-2014, 03:40 PM
Maybe there's an app for the iPad (or other tablets) that lets you write with a stylus, so that you can write longhand in a notebook with no spirals or holes or size limits or floppiness, etc.

Shara
12-09-2014, 05:00 PM
The first few novels I wrote, when I was in school, I used to write longhand in the back of school notebooks. Basically at the end of every school year, I would take all the notebooks that still had space in them, turn them back to front and upside down, and use as many of them as I needed to write the book. It had to be in pencil, and this was my rough draft. When I was done, I'd type out the Final Draft on my typewriter.

For a long time I thought that was the only way I could work. Then in 1989 I was persuaded to buy an Amstrad PCW. Once I got used to that, I was convinced that I could only ever write sitting at home at my Amstrad.

Some years ago I got a NetBook, and eventually became persuaded that as long as I had my trusty little NetBook, I could write anywhere. Except it sort of had to be Starbucks. And I had to have a soya latte and a muffin to sustain me before I could write a word.

The point is, we writers are creatures of habit. We convince ourselves that we can only be creative if certain rituals are adhered to. But it is possible to adapt to changing our rituals, even if we don't like the idea.

Shara

Sage
12-09-2014, 05:28 PM
I write most things on the computer, but because I travel a lot, I've started using more notebooks, so I can use my flying time for writing. I've found that several positive (and a couple negative) things happen when I do this.

Positive: I'm stuck with my butt in chair and far fewer things to distract me while writing, so I'm less likely to procrastinate. A blank page in the notebook seems less daunting than a blank page on the screen. I tend to (but don't always) do more narrative and description in the notebook, whereas sometimes getting out of "dialogue dialogue dialogue, I should add an action tag here" mode can be difficult for me on the screen. When I type up the stuff I handwrote, I sometimes revise as I go, so my "first" draft is a little more polished (in some ways; see below).

Negatives: When I'm transcribing, I type really fast, and that can lead to more typos that I don't catch right away. I don't like "doubling" my writing time by having to type up what has already been written.

Deepthought
12-09-2014, 06:51 PM
Thanks for so many replies! I think I'll just use multiple books and just divide them in to general segments. And call them "Book 1, Book 2" etc. as a psychological measure to make me think I'm writing separate things rather than a single novel and therefore adhering to my single notebook philosophy. And then take out that bit when it is to be typed.

Storm Surge
12-09-2014, 07:12 PM
I do both notebooks and three ring binders. Love the Mead 5 Star mainly for the paper. Binders I usually use for things that are being written either on the typewriter or computer. I have a weird obsession with having hardcopies of everything so the few computer written stories get printed out. (I find it easier to edit them that way too.)

I actually cannot type for very long on the computer so transcribing from longhand or typewriter to computer is difficult... but then again I almost never finish anything so I don't have to worry about that.

Pterofan
12-09-2014, 08:13 PM
Spiral notebook, pen, bed and cup of tea. This is how my first drafts get written. Computers are for second drafts and editing. Sure, notebooks take up space, but they also don't crash and wipe out three months' worth of work, and the pages don't mysteriously corrupt so you can't look at them. I'm one of those paranoid people who has to have hard copy backup. Notebooks serve the purpose, at least until I can make a printout.

I still get excited in August, when the school supplies go on sale.

Melanii
12-09-2014, 08:37 PM
I still get excited in August, when the school supplies go on sale.

So do I, even though I have no need for supplies. XD

((I'm starting to think longhand might be better because of less distractions, but I dunno.))

Myrealana
12-09-2014, 09:04 PM
I like comp books for brainstorming and taking notes. I hate spiral notebooks because I'm left handed, and those bound school notebooks fall apart, but I can't imagine writing the whole book out longhand.

I think my hand would fall off.

Jamesaritchie
12-09-2014, 09:56 PM
I still write most of my first drafts longhand, and I think I have at least one of every notebook out there. For novels, I usually use a three ring binder, but I buy better paper than the cheap stuff kids use at school.

I really enjoy writing fiction in journals, rather than notebooks, but a journal large enough to hold a novel is too expensive for most people. Some go as high as $2,000 I am not willing to pay that much. and I learned the hard way that even a much cheaper one has problem.

I've had one like this for almost three years. http://www.epica.com/The-World-s-Thickest-Italian-Leather-Journal.html It was a Christmas gift, and a great one, but as I said, there is a huge drawback.

I can't write in it. Each time I think I will, I chicken out. Whatever I write in this needs to stand as is, needs to not be rewritten, needs to be as error free as possible, or I'l just be ruining pages that cost too darned much. I can't make myself write fiction in it.

even as a journal, it stand out so much from the ones I regularly use that it feels out of place. And I can't, or I refuse, to start buying one of these things every year just to make my journals match.

So stick to three ring binders, no matter how temping something else might look.

Alexandra Little
12-09-2014, 10:25 PM
I love Moleskine. That is all.

Phaeal
12-09-2014, 10:29 PM
One word: Moleskine. All different sizes, all different covers, all different colors, all totally cool. For the retro Hemingway-in-Paris feel, go with the classic Kraft brown variety.

Hapax Legomenon
12-09-2014, 10:57 PM
I like comp books for brainstorming and taking notes. I hate spiral notebooks because I'm left handed, and those bound school notebooks fall apart, but I can't imagine writing the whole book out longhand.

I think my hand would fall off.

I'm not left handed but yeah spirals are such a pain. They get smashed up and won't open right. I only tolerate spirals for sketchbooks because I need to be able to flip the pages all the way around.

What's annoying though is that all the really cute composition books are always wide ruled. Like even when you find patterned composition books in college rule, they're always more subdued than what you find in wide rule. Almost like they're assuming if you use college rule paper, you must be some kind of mature adult. Puhleeeeeeease.

Locke
12-09-2014, 10:58 PM
I love Moleskine. That is all.

My idea repository is a Moleskine. I love them too. The only complaint about them is that if you have a particularly wet pen (such as felt tips or fountain pens) they tend to feather a bit. Since I've been thinking about giving fountain pens another try, I've been pondering Rhodia notebooks, specifically the Webnotebooks with a dot grid (http://rhodiapads.com/collections_boutique_webnotebook_dotgrid.shtml) that are very similar to Moleskines. I'm told that their paper is greatly favored by people who enjoy fountain pens. But, man, are they expensive, even more so than Moleskines.

Dreity
12-09-2014, 11:47 PM
I asked for a bunch of double spiral bound notebooks for Christmas.

1. I can fold them, which means I don't have to balance it on my tiny lap like I do a composition notebook or journal. (Writing on desks or tables is very uncomfortable for me.)

2. Double spirals don't eat my paper and get all lopsided like single spirals.

I like longhand for getting the bones of the scene down, and it gives me something to do on my break at work. Most of my at-home writing sessions begin with me transcribing, because that's a less daunting than starting with a cold, blank screen. As I transcribe, I see what needs to be done to flesh it out. An action tag there, an internal thought here, tweak this, tweak that, and eventually I'm on a roll and can just write.

It's like training wheels, except I have to take them off and put them back on every freaking day. :tongue

mccardey
12-10-2014, 12:02 AM
What's annoying though is that all the really cute composition books are always wide ruled.

You just reminded me, I also write on every second line, which leaves the line between free for scribbling notes and changes.

(I'm one of the edit-as-you-go people.)

Deepthought
12-10-2014, 12:54 AM
Well, I went to the store and plopped around 30 bucks worth of pens, pencils, and notebooks. I'll just use them and see what works best. I don't have any excuses now. Off to work, yay! (At least, after school finals- finishing off next week.)

mimstrel
12-10-2014, 01:14 AM
I have small handwriting. Generally fiction goes straight on the computer, but I do keep field journals and if nobody else has to read those, I'll write two lines to every line on the page. Or, I buy sketch journals (unlined pages) and fill those. Edits and sketches go in the margins.

Pterofan
12-10-2014, 01:59 AM
The other advantage to notebooks is that you can doodle in the margins when you get stuck. I suppose you could do that on a computer, but then the screen gets messy.