Notebook Blues, Part 2

As I posted a few days ago, I’ve been auditioning notebooks to replace the discontinued style I have been using since forever to write my Morning Pages.

I’ve ruled out the Moleskines; they may be “legendary” but my morning flailings aren’t. Write and destroy, that’s my motto; I’m going for disposable, not archival. This week I found two drugstore notebooks that are the size I find handiest (9 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches) and have the preferred 30 college-ruled lines per page.

The Ultimate 3-Subject Notebook (item 92093 from It’s Academic in Northbrook, IL., made in Vietnam and distributed by Walgreen’s). This one has rounded corners (yes!) and  3/4″ black spiral binding, which is not as nice as the twin-wire b ut still big enough to accommodate the pen I use. The cover is almost as sturdy as the old Notebound, although in subdued colors. There’s a two-pocket insert in the back and tabbed plastic dividers. The paper is a bright white but thinner than I’d like; I’d probably have to have to use one of the clear plastic subject dividers as an undersheet to keep from embossing the back of the page I’m writing on, which makes the next page bumpy, defeating the idea of not having to think about the paper and pen.

The Caliber 5-Subject Notebook (#385609, 5 subject notebook, made in USA and distributed by CVS Pharmacy; there’s also a 3-subject version). This notebook has a somewhat thinner plastic cover that comes in classy colors (the one I bought is a deep dusty rose) but the paper is a bright white and thick enough that the pen won’t emboss the backside. There’s a double-sided pocket in the front, not as fun or stylish as clear plastic pockets, but it’ll work. The notebook’s corners are, alas, sharp rather than rounded, which is a shame; it can’t add that much to the per-unit cost to go one more production step.

It looks to me as if the Caliber is a private-label version of a Mead recycled-paper twin-wire notebook that is available online from only one supplier; everywhere else, it seems to be out of stock. Shipping would cost twice as much as the notebook and so far I haven’t been able to bring myself to spring for it, especially when I have more than a year’s worth of other options stacked on the bookcase, all of them imperfect but so is life.

Which is probably the lesson here.

© 2010, Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

This entry was posted in Product Reviews (writer stuff), The Writing Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Notebook Blues, Part 2

  1. Anne M Leone says:

    Hah, love that!: “all of them imperfect but so is life. Which is probably the lesson here”.

    It’s so important, isn’t it, and so frustrating when you can’t get something that fits right for you? I used to use quite small notebooks but recently tested out a letter-sized spiral bound notebook. I hesitated because it felt so much like school all over again, but now I have so much more space to write, it folds out flat on the table, the paper is recycled, and it’s cheap. But artistic–no, probably not.


  2. I’ve gone through the same thing with notebooks, and have yet to find just the right fit. If the notebook itself is right, the paper is too thin. Or my pen drags on the paper. Sometimes I give in and keyboard morning pages. Yes, I know Julia Cameron said to do them by hand, but I’d rather get them done, than not. And hitting the delete key is delicious–poof, all the grumbly, naggy stuff is gone.

    Great blog, btw!


    • Anne Bingham says:

      I agree; freewriting works on the keyboard, too. I’ve been tempted, but there was a time when I’d become so keyboard-dependent that I couldn’t compose in longhand anymore, so that’s part of the reason I stick with a journal in the early a.m. Also, I spend way too much time at a keyboard as it is!


  3. Anna says:

    I love how fellow writers understand the importance of the perfect notebook! I’ve been using the 7×5″ Carolina Pad notebooks they have at CVS. They’re small and portable, but sturdy enough to be good for writing anywhere. Plus they have a handy little pocket in the front and their covers are pretty and colorful. I think I’m on my fifth one and am still a happy duck.


    • Anne Bingham says:

      Anna, I have one of those smaller notebooks, too. Love the color (and the rounded corners!), but it’s a little smaller than I’m used to. I know you just started following this blog a few days ago, so I thought I’d mention that I reviewed the Carolina Pad line in my first Morning Pages post (February 14). You can access it either by clicking on the Home Page tab at the top of the page or through the “Recent Posts” area of the sidebar. Either way, it should show up at the very bottom of the page.


  4. MaryWitzl says:

    I’m not all that fussy about paper, but I’m fanatic about finding the right pen. I have to have one with a very fine point, but not so fine that it blocks a lot, which drives me wild. And the ink can’t splotch–which I hate, especially when I practice writing characters–and I need a pen that won’t crack when I chew the end, but I do need a chewable end. Also, I’m a big fan of cheapness, so you can guess how often I’ve met the writing implement of my dreams.


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