November 12, 2018, by Sunita Tailor

In Praise of the Notebook

This blog post was written by second year English with Creative Writing student, Bethany Mitchell.

In a culture where electronic note-taking becomes ever more prevalent, I find myself reflecting on the simple pleasures of the notebook.

When we write or make notes on laptops, tablets, or even phones, we erase our thoughts and ideas moments after they become tangible, editing as we go. In a notebook, however, these thoughts become archived, providing an unwavering reference point. A sentence or phrase could be harvested months later for use in an essay or a piece of creative writing. We might discover the seed of an idea, grown without our own realisation since it was first recorded. We can watch our thoughts develop, and review our processes.

A good notebook – one we love to use – can inspire us to write. We want to take it out of our bags or pockets, to take it with us on the bus or to the park, allowing us to capture moments and ideas that might otherwise slip away before we have chance to pin them down. Writing is the English student’s bread and butter, so this is valuable practice.

Equally, it’s important not to become too precious about our notebooks. There’s no need to fret if we spill coffee on them, distort our inky marks in the rain, or tear out pages for shopping lists: these deformations make our notebooks even more unique and full of story. Nor is there a need to be too articulate in our notebooks. This is our space for freedom and expression – we can edit later if necessary, perhaps for an assessment (or a blog post). In our notebooks, nothing is a mistake. We’ll find no squiggly red lines following us. A notebook is the English student’s science experiment.

Whatever your current approach to note-taking, I advocate experimentation: find a notebook you enjoy, and observe what happens when you have fun with your process.

Posted in Student Words