Notebooks for Poetry

Poetry should give pleasure for many years, decades or beyond. Page poetry appears in published books, magazines, e-zines and literary journals. Spoken word poetry may be recorded in digital storage and other distribution channels. As important as the output is the material that is the input to this work: the notes that poets make and how they take notes. Many writers have a notebook or digital recording device with them to take notes of inspiration, and this is true of poets too.

It is unlikely you would write a final draft in one sitting, there will be breaks in the process, and you would need one place to keep all your ideas together. You may find that you make notes on words, phrases or ideas that may come to you at any time of day or night. Then, when you start to create your poem, you may want to either write out the best ideas again before drafting or just start writing an initial draft in a white-heat flow of inspiration. You may want to edit, cross-out or insert words as you go along. Either way, the flexibility and availability of pen and paper is hard to beat. I sometimes even make doodles, sketch out memory maps or use tables.

Do not automatically believe that a digital device is more environmentally sound that paper. The former is an extremely complex system, the latter extremely simple, this suggests the total energy required for both manufacturing, use and disposal is less for paper. I recommend you research his for yourself and make your own choice. I recall seeing a study that the carbon footprint of one Kindle reader would not be reached until you had bought and read about 125 paperback books.

Beauty of form, portability and sense of durability (e.g. of traditional media like paper versus digital media on cloud server farms) can also motivate the creative spirit. I find there is real pleasure in using one of the premium notebooks, with brands such as these available in the UK:

  • Paperblanks®
  • Moleskine®

These notebooks easily fit into a pocket or bag, unlike some laptops, and do not need charging. You can also interleave found items like tickets, cuttings etc.

A study from the University of Tokyo found greater memory and recall when we write on paper rather than tapping onto a laptop. The researchers think that ‘the unique, complex, spatial and tactile information associated with writing by hand on physical paper’ helps us encode information more deeply and thoroughly in our brains. Professor Sakai, the neuroscientist author of the study, believes also that creativity is also enhanced when we work on physical paper: ‘For art, composing music, or other creative works, I would emphasize the use of paper instead of digital methods.’

In workshops, I also find it irritating when a fellow participant is typing away on a laptop during a creative session with an incessant tapping noise that interrupts my imaginative state of mind, not a problem shared by those workshop participants using paper and pen.

In the end, it is your choice of what works best for you.


20210621 Notebooks with title

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