View Full Version : What Do You Write In/On?

10-16-2018, 06:27 PM
Been lurking in this subforum for a while, and came to the realization the other day that part of what is reducing my productivity at work (and in my writing) is that I am literally all over the map. I have standard notepads with various work-related notes scattered all over the place.

When I saw AW Admin's reference to the Bullet Journal write-up here on AW (http://absolutewrite.com/2017/03/03/bullet-journals-for-writers/), (thanks Lisa, amazingly helpful!) decided this would be a great way to organize my work-related notes in a more logical fashion. So, off to the interwebs I went. Nothing really struck a chord for me online because the notebook really is a tactile thing, and I wanted to feel it in my hands. Once in OfficeMax, I found two notebook styles that I ended up purchasing:

The first is a college ruled binder of sorts that is about 5x8. I skipped the first four pages, then started numbering each page. At the beginning I have an index, and at the end, I have an Acronyms section. Every ten pages I put a Post-It note for easier "tabbing" of sections of pages so I don't have to flip all through to find a place. Very pleased thus far, and my thoughts here are much more organized.

The second is a smaller version of the same book, only now it's graphed paper. I have done the same page numbering, but no tabs as this is going to me merely for brainstorming and short writing sessions for personal growth kind of stuff.

Lisa referenced a dot matrix style notebook on her post, and I can see where that may have a certain appeal too. But, as with anything where there's subjective opinions, others may have a completely different preference for how they take notes, write, journal, log their thoughts. So, in the interests of a forum community, thought I'd post this question - what kind of notebook or journaling system do you use for writing, taking notes, or what have you?

10-16-2018, 07:37 PM
I carry, when I am away from my work environment (when I go walking, to the movies, shopping, browsing, whatever), a portable notepad. They are like 4" by 2" (or sometimes bigger ones) and a new pen (I test before leaving). When I get ideas, I jot them down.

Where I work, I use cheap notebooks from WalMart. I stock up (beginning of school year for kids) on numerous spiral notebooks for like 99 cents each. I use those to jot my notes in, brainstorm, create family trees for characters, and so forth.

These all get digitized into Word or Excel documents. I can copy/paste, strikethough used items when writing, and so on, with greater speed than leaving them in notebooks (hoping I will remember which notebook has what I am looking for).

These documents I call databases. Each has unique information. If I combined them all, it would be a mess. Each writing project gets these databases (one can create templates for).

You need to have a data management plan doing this of course, if one ever goes down. I have three (my thumb drive, my computer, and an online storage site). I update all three every, single day. The online option allows me to work away from home, if I want/need to.

For me, in totality, I bring my ideas home and create databases (where I can easily ctrl+F to find what I want, when I need it). This helps with facilitation and management of writing elements I create for my WIPs.

10-21-2018, 03:09 AM
For longhand writing...well, mostly, I type, but when I'm working on paper, I've yet to find anything that matches Levenger's Notabila notebooks. They're modeled off school composition books but with more pages and nicer paper (I use fountain pens). Supposedly you can find regular cheap composition books with nice paper* but it depends on where and who made them and figuring it out is more of a headache than I want to deal with. Some years ago I picked up the matching leather cover from Levenger's scratch-and-dent outlet on Ebay which also kind of committed me to the format.

I started to get into journaling this year for personal-management and have had mixed success keeping up with it but last month I found out about bullet journaling from an article on Tor.com and it's proving a much better fit. The notebook in question is just a $5 softcover A5 notebook from BigLots but for next year I want to get a 'proper' dot-grid notebook for it. (It works in a lined notebook but the dot grid helps if you want to do things like charts and other graphics.)

Oh, and I also have a separate small journal for writing down ideas I want to save for later. It's provenience is unknown (I took it because the previous owner didn't want it) but it's the sort of thing you can get from bookstores and gift shops, it's got a purple faux-leather cover, heavy paper and a stitched binding.

Oh, and also also, I keep a small cheap memo pad in my purse for scratch-paper things like shopping lists, trading contact info, etc. Paper is faster than fumbling the keyboard on my phone. I can transfer things to my journal/calendar/phone later.

* The notebook I'm working through right now is actually one of the Staples eco-friendly composition books; I picked one up to try and they're ok, but they only come in wide-rule and not college ruled and I'd rather have college-ruled.

10-24-2018, 01:04 AM
My favorite for writing is a 8 1/2x11" notebook with the spiral on the top--it looks like a giant steno book, but it's regular college-ruled paper. I really dislike the spiral on the side for some reason, but having it at the top works well for me. Depending on my desk at work (or wherever), I also like plain steno books. I'm able to write very small, so I can get two lines of writing on each line of the steno page.

Generally, I don't preserve these. I type them into the MIP ASAP, then either X them out if they stay in the book or rip them out and toss them. Lately I've been using Scrivener, so there's plenty of space for notes. If it's a map or whatever, a pic off the phone can be put in pretty easily.

That said, I've written on napkins, paper scraps, whatever was available when I had the unexpected moment to write. The one habit I got into (and still have) is to date and page number each bit so I know what is what when it comes time for transcribing.

AW Admin
11-02-2018, 09:39 PM
I use cheap composition notebooks for day to day notes and planning. I buy them several at a time once I've found ones that work with fountain pens. Last fall I bought six or so at RiteAid after finding one that worked well; I think I paid 50 cents each on sale.

These are just for drafting and notes, things of that sort. The composition books make from rice or sugar cane work quite well. They tend to come from South America or Vietnam.

This blogger regularly reviews composition notebooks (http://comfortableshoesstudio.com/review-composition-books-at-cvs-2018/) for fountain pen (and other writing tools) use.

I've been using a Scribbles That Matter dot-grid notebook (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=scribbles+that+matter&linkCode=ll2&tag=absowrit-20&linkId=4ea920957d3d6166d729bfbce709afb9) from Amazon* for bullet journaling.

They come in several sizes, paper styles, and covers, but the paper handles fountain pen ink, and pretty much everything I've used, except a really wet pen, quite well. They have an index page, a pocket in the back, and two ribbon markers. A book easily lasts me a year, and it's about $20.00. These are meant to be kept, unlike the composition books.

* AW Amazon Affiliate Link.

11-05-2018, 03:58 AM
For jokes and comedy routines I use a pen and notebook paper. For screenwriting I use Fade In. For everything else I use Microsoft Word.

08-19-2019, 07:28 AM
Looseleaf for outlines. I also have some smaller binders that take smaller paper, and I keep extensive notes for novels in those books.

I have a couple journals (one general, the other about specific things) that are moleskin hardcover books.

I have an agenda to write my tasks each day.

Index cards for notes about books and stories.

I carry around a moleskin booklet for ideas when I'm not home. I used to get cheap knockoffs from walmart but can't find them anymore.

Paul Lamb
09-18-2019, 03:32 PM
I've kept hand-written journals for nearly 40 years. I use college-ruled spiral notebooks, and sometime along this journey I decided the notebooks needed to have a college logo on the front. I used to make notes for my writing in them, but I've amassed so many filled notebooks (several dozen) that if I wanted to find some particular notes, I likely never could. Instead I use them just to put down thoughts I have about whatever, writing related or not. At the office (and at my little off-the-grid cabin in the woods) I keep a small note pad for jotting down ideas for stories, dialogue, plot development, characterization, and such to carry back with me when I return to my laptop at home.

I do all of my "serious" writing on my laptop, using Word (since I know if well enuf).

aurora borealis
09-19-2019, 09:31 PM
For day-to-day to do lists and keeping things organized for university classes I use an A5 dot notebook from Amazon.

For writing and plotting I use a large Moleskin softcover lined notebook. (I think also A5 but I'm not 100% sure off the top of my head.)

09-19-2019, 09:43 PM
I use Final Draft for screenplays and Evernote for pretty much everything else, drafting short stories and novels, outlines, crazy ideas, character notes, research etc. It syncs everything on my Windows laptop as well as my phone, so all these notes and drafts are always at hand. Colored 3 x 5" index cards on the wall are sometimes handy for figuring out my scenes.