For about a dozen years I’ve been writing Morning Pages as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. Every significant piece of personal writing I’ve written in that time has benefited from this practice, and most of the published short stories and poems have originated there. Sometimes it helps when I’m stuck on a client project, too.
The basic idea is to write three pages in longhand first thing in the morning—or, in my case, as soon as I can handle a cup of hot caffeine without hurting myself. [Full disclosure: Sometimes life gets in the way and Morning Pages are actually Afternoon Pages or even Right-Before-Bed Pages. Whatever. It works.]
In the beginning, I used spiral-bound school notebooks that my kids brought home half-filled in June. When I used those up, I bought brand new ones (Shiny covers! No X-wing/TIE fighter space battles doodles!) Three or four years ago, I discovered a smaller 3-subject notebook from Carolina Pad called Notebound Colours, and I liked it so much I bought a dozen.
The cover was sturdy plastic on the front and sturdy cardboard in back, in cheery colors (rose, violet, aqua, tangerine), with rounded corners front and back. It was a convenient size (9 ½ x 6 ½ inches) to carry in a shoulder bag or write in while sitting at a tiny coffeehouse table. The binding was a classy double-wire coil that didn’t snag sweaters and was wide enough to clip a pen inside. And the paper! Bright white, college-ruled at 30 lines/page, smooth as good letterhead stock, thick enough that the ink didn’t bleed to the other side when you wrote on it. Plus, there were cool vinyl dividers with pockets for holding Starbucks cards, business cards, poems to memorize, etc. It was a joy to use and almost made 6 a.m. bearable.
Alas, I should have bought a case, because I am now on the very last one and yes, it’s been discontinued.
The new iteration has its good points. The moveable subject dividers are a good idea, the front cover still has rounded corners (but the back doesn’t), the binding is still no-snag double-wire, the colors are different but fine. (See? I can accept change…) There’s a cutout on the edge of the front cover for clipping a pen which some people might prefer over slipping the pen into the coil.
But the cover is less sturdy, and the paper is thinner, less smooth, and has a slight yellow tinge (which admittedly only a paper wonk would notice). Worse, the paper’s shorter, with only 27 college- ruled lines/page vs. 30 lines/page in the former version. That works out to 2160 fewer lines of writing per notebook.
I understand about cutting costs and all, and I realize these notebooks are probably designed for elementary- and middle-school students and not adult novelist wannabes, so I’m making a valiant effort to Get Over It, Let It Go, Move on. I did fine with my kids’ old notebooks; I’ll get used to whatever I find next. It’s the method, not the medium, that counts.
I’m now scouting the school/office supply aisles for potential replacements. I’ll let you know what I find. In the meantime, any suggestions?
© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go