What do you feel naked without?

Tiny notebooks like this one saved my trip to the Amazon
Tiny notebooks like this one saved my trip to the Amazon
Some women are never without lipstick. For me, it’s travel-sized notebooks.

When size matters

I had a teeny tiny notebook with me in the Amazon the day my camera died. Instead of photos, I scribbled about everything from the local uses of manioc tubers (bread starch and also a topical anti-aging treatment for women) to the expected lifespan of a dugout canoe (2-3 years). I listed the types of birds, recorded conversations I had with locals and recipes for Peruvian specialties.

(When my traveling companion read the trip diary I compiled after returning home, she was stunned by how much she’d already forgotten.)

A few of my trusty Moleskine notebooks.
A few of my trusty Moleskine notebooks.
True companions for when I’m really in the mood

Teeny notebooks that fit in back pockets get me by. But for big writerly love, it’s Moleskine notebooks every time—sturdy cover, ribbon to mark my place, elastic strap to keep it closed, accordion pocket in back to stash smaller scraps of things.

I won’t buy one unless I can get squared rule pages. Somehow, it frees me to write as big or small as I want. The Moleskine goes with me to coffeeshops, conferences, Meetups and writers meetings.

My bookshelf holds a row of these trusty companions, some more flagged and battle scarred than others. Flip through one and you’ll find pages of stories, ideas for Tarot spreads, notes from lectures and drafts of blog posts.

Why messy works for me

With handwriting like mine, you’d think I’d use a computer for everything, but I get deep satisfaction from my pile of Moleskines, They are snapshots in time—as fragmented and messy as life. Paging through them, I can trace back to the roots of an idea. I can mark progress on projects I’m working on. And unlike time I spend at the computer, I can see tangible proof of what I’m doing.

No wonder I feel incomplete without some kind of notebook to hand.

What about you? Are there must-have tools in your life? A thing (or practice or app) that brings you satisfaction and a sense of security? I’d love to hear about it.

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