It’s just a notebook

Not a moleskine

I decided I needed a notebook. After all, real writers use notebooks to jot down their thoughts.  I’m suddenly having more ideas than I can contain in a blog, and many of them come to me at 11:30 at night when I’m trying to fall asleep.

Mainly I got tired of keep track of my notes on the notepad app on my iPhone, especially after my daughter turned three months worth of post ideas into rghaghajdlfdiuuyyghhka8**emmahfjjdfkjfjafd^^^^^.

I’m sorry, not my daughter.  Some other iPhone fascinated creature that no one sees.

I love writer’s notebooks and journals.  I think the main reason writers carry notebooks around is because we love the way they look.  We make up ideas and stories and sentences just so we have a valid excuse to carry around tiny pieces of paper bound in artistic jackets, jackets that say I’m a serious writer or I’m into astrology.  If it wasn’t for the street cred we get from the beautiful – or smartly understanded – binding, we’d just shove miniature steno pads into our purses like Newspaper Men in the movies.

The last journal I bought resembled a renaissance fair tapestry you’d find hanging on a 1990s wannabe hippie’s dorm wall.  I don’t remember any of the symbols that were supposed to be representative of – well, something I’m sure, but I remember the sun and the stars.  I could have pulled this notebook out and started using it.  I know I never filled it.  But I haven’t written in it since just after Devin was born and I started writing in it the summer before I went to college.  That’s 18 months of angst-ridden promiscuity that no one wants to reread.

But still, I wanted a notebook.

Of course, I just declared a shopping moratorium on unnecessary items.  I mean, a real writer’s notebook only costs about $12, but that’s $12 I’d vowed not to spend.

So instead of a fancy moleskin wrapped in soft black, I’m carrying around a free notebook I got at BlogHer with a Sears and Kmart logo stamped on the red plastic cover.  I’ve also scattered pink post-it style grocery list length notebooks sponsored by RetailMeNot around the house – by the bed, on the desk.

And it’s a very small thing and a less than glamorous alternative to the pretty diaries I imagined for myself when I decided I had to start carrying real pen and paper with me everywhere – but it’s $12 I saved.  More importantly, I’m actually putting these scraps of donated trees to good use instead of letting them overflow in my junk drawer until I can no longer open and close it when I need to find batteries.

It’s a very small thing, but it’s a symbolic gesture for me that represents a commitment to something bigger.  It’s follow through.  It’s sticking to my guns in the face of just $12, because just sits at the precipice of that very slippery slope.  But I did not slip, or lean, or roll down that hill.  I dug through a bag of free stuff that I’d saved from a recent conference, and stayed rooted on level ground.

It’s just $12.  It’s just a notebook.  But it’s moving closer to the goal.

Plus – we canceled the cable.

Get More Inspiration & Encouragement

Sign up to get my weekly(ish) email with personal stories, practical tips & links to recent blog posts. You'll also have access to exclusive discounts on products & events and a handful of freebies I've made just for you.

I save my best stuff for subscribers! Join us.

Your email will never be sold or shared, because I aspire to not be a jerk.

  1. Faiqa says:

    Okay, you know what? You know WHAT? I pulled that SAME notebook out today and started using it, too. Frankly, I am getting SICK AND TIRED of you living inside my head. Or me living inside yours. I’m getting my cable reconnected. To hell with this. ;-)

  2. Good for you! My same little notebook is now my daughter’s new coloring in the car and at restaurants book. I too did not want to waste the money on one at the craft store! I should so find somwething around the house to be my writers jourmal too. Keep it up babe! A penny saved is a penny earned…you know you wanted me tosound like a mom!

  3. I love my Moleskin, but I def get your point – I cannot spend that much on a notebook. Because then I am selective about what goes into it.

  4. Stephanie says:

    you canceled cable?


  5. Nanna says:

    Angst-ridden promiscuity, huh? THAT’S what I was talking about today about your writing. Hehehehehehehe.

    Good job, kid.

  6. OHmommy says:

    That kmart/sears notebook was my daughter’s most fav swag from BlogHer. I might follow her and yours lead and invest in one of my own. I love how paper feels.

  7. I love notebooks. I have millions of half used ones. I never have anything worth writing in them though. It’s like I don’t even have enough ideas to write down for NO one to read. *sigh*

    PS-you did email me. I haven’t had the brain waves available to form a coherent response, but trying.

  8. KBO says:

    Girl, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one carrying around a damn K-Mart notebook.

  9. I doesn’t matter what the cover looks like. What is written inside will still be YOUR really good ideas and dreams and plans.

    The inside will be so much more special that the plain old outside.

  10. Erin says:

    I have a SERIOUS weakness for blank books. Thankfully, my weakest weakness is for the blank college ruled composition books which, at the right time of year, you can find for about $1. Good for you for using what you have though! And for actually writing the stuff down. I keep thinking “I need to carry a notepad with me for when I get these ideas” but the actual act itself fills me with self consciousness. I don’t know why.

    I applaud you for canceling cable. You are far stronger than I could ever be!

  11. avitable says:

    I love free notebooks. How did I not get one in my bag from BlogHer? I was robbed.

    It’s okay, though. I still have 12 of those “From the desk of” notepads to go through before I can justify buying another pad of paper.

    I think the frugality is commendable, and if you can save $12, it becomes even easier to save $120 or $1200.

  12. jonniker says:

    We’re on the same journey. Every day, for me, is an attempt to see how little money I can spend. If I make it through the day with minimal expenses, I feel great.

    Now I’m just pissed I didn’t pack my free BlogHer notebooks.

  13. RW says:

    I like the old mottled black and white composition books with the lined paper 3/4 the size of a regular 8 1/2 X 11. It isn’t a real writer’s notebook unless it’s an old mottled black and white composition book. Then when I fill them up I throw them away. That’s the important part too, unless you think you’re saving them for posterity when a grateful public builds a shrine in your name. I got over that in 1983. But a free one will do in a pinch.

  14. muskrat says:

    I canceled cable when I got accepted to lawschool 11 years ago and would still be without it were it not for a woman and a bunch of children who have since moved into my house and seem to want it. For several years after school, I would only have cable from Labor Day weekend through the Super Bowl, canceling it the Monday after the big game every year.

    Best of luck accomplishing your goals!

  15. Finn says:

    Oh God, I LOVE journals and notebooks. I love the act of putting a silky pen to thick paper. Yum. I could get as lost in the journal aisle in Target as I can in Sephora.

    But I haven’t purchased one in ages because I’m cutting down on paper, and because I have a beautiful journal that’s not yet filled.

    Saving that $12 is wonderful. That you have all those ideas to jot down is even moreso.

  16. Hockeymandad says:

    Even though Angie may not still be friends with you for canceling cable, I will. Also, I may have an extra moleskine around somewhere that I bought but never use. Besides, its just paper and so long as it stays bound where you need it, it really doesn’t matter when you boil it down. It’s what’s on the paper and what you do with it that counts the most.

  17. Becky says:

    I have had a notebook with me always, since I was in Jr High. When they have notebooks for 10 cents at back to school sales, I buy like $5 worth. I love notebooks.
    Then I cut up magazines and cover the notebooks with words or sayings that inspire me.
    Yes, I’m a dork. But I’m a writer too.

  18. annettek says:

    You can write a whole post about a notebook while canceling the cable is a basically a footnote. I <3 you!

    Btw, I'm thinking I might join your shopping moratorium.

  19. naomi says:

    ok so good job on not spending money on the notebook and all …

    but what does it mean if I use 4-5 notebooks … and can never find ANY of them? I cleaned out several purses/bags the other day and found notes (GOOD ones too!) from months ago.

    I’m a paper/notebook junkie …that and pens. I’m a pen WHORE.

    Good for you for canceling cable! You are putting that money straight away into savings, right?

  20. Allyson says:

    If you connect your computer to your tv, you can still watch tv like you used to. I’ve got my Pete’s old computer that was no longer able to handle his job hooked up to my 65″ tv. Between Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and the network websites, the only thing I’m missing are the commercials. (And football, but I think we might get basic cable just for the season, or like, direct tv or something.)

  21. Kris says:

    Know what? You won’t miss it. Well, maybe you will. For a little while.

    We’ve been without TV service for almost two years now and find we really don’t need it.

    Do I feel left out when all the Gleeks (or other show followers) are talking about the latest episode? Nope. I think to myself, “Really? I have better ways to spend an hour of my time. Like snuggling my kids or making something creative, or – bear with me now – tackling clutter!!”

    I can still get my news online (we stopped the paper also, especially since they stopped the Monday edition entirely and didn’t lower the weekly cost at all.) If there’s an article about our Polish group or my kid does something fantabulous and ends up in the paper, I”ll just buy that edition at the store.

    We rent DVD’s from either Netflix (and have a Wii, so it’s even more cost-efficient to watch our Instant Queue through that), or we get them free from the library. (Some DVD rental places allow free rentals of anything in their Child and Family section.)

    See, we live on $47,000 a year. Our family of four. With no public assistance. Do we have unpaid bills? Sure we do. We tackle those as best we can. Do we travel? Not really. I do took the kids to Cleveland (where my family is) and stayed with my mom (couldn’t afford a hotel if I wanted to stay in one anyway). The best feeling was that I saved up the money to go for two weeks.

    Take the money you save in one spot and put it in savings. Don’t just not pay that bill. Pay the Savings account with what that bill cost. (Does that make sense?) you’d be surprised how well you can get ahead if you budget right.

    BTW, yeah, I’m still in that process. We’ve got no savings at all to speak of, so we just do the best we can, just like any other schmuck in the world. But it WILL happen. And it starts buy not buying the $12 notebook. I’m proud of you!

  22. Ren says:

    Too bad you don’t have something like this — — on your Amazon wish list.

    Just sayin’….

  23. Lisa says:

    I love those black & white comp books too. I always have one on my desk at work. For me it’s not so much about the notebook as it is the pen. I have a real thing for pens! I had to stop collecting fountain pens because they’re impractical and expensive. But if I won the lotto? I’d totally go on a pen binge.

  24. Judy Haley says:

    I find that I’m much better about writing in the cheap notebooks. With the expensive books and the moleskins I keep thinking that whatever I put in there has to be brilliant, and very rarely is anything brilliant enough to put in the book. Ok, yeah, I need to work on the self esteem. In the meantime, cheap seems to work best for me.


    Yes, I’m yelling.

    It’s right here next to my laptop, on the kitchen table, and so far there’s been menu plans, work schedules, post ideas, pantry lists, and—of course—crayon doodles!

  26. Jennifer says:

    I’m obsessed with notebooks and pens. It’s sort of ridiculous because I buy them and write little notes and shit in them and then they get tossed aside when the next hot little number catches my eye. Sitting on the shelf, all ‘Pick me up and take me home, baby.’I look at that fine figure and know I gotta have a piece of that, at least until something better comes along…

  27. Elfenkate says:

    Since my netbook has been in it’s coma, I picked up one at the dollar store. Love the dollar store for supplies like notebooks, pens, pencils,etc. I do have many nicer, spiffy notebooks, but they look to pretty to use:)

  28. I used to carry around a notebook with me everywhere, and haven’t in quite some time. I think you’ve just inspired me to pick-up that habit again….

« « Parenting: when you’re doing it wrong | Most People Are Not Idiots » »