My Moleskine – A Tool for Creativity

March 26th, 2010

If you’re looking for an update on CREATIVEMIX – sorry; you’ll have to wait a bit longer. For now, I thought I’d rant on something totally useless.

I carry a notebook around with me EVERYWHERE. I’ve forgotten my wallet, my keys, my cell phone, but I’ve never forgotten my notebook. It’s not a journal, it’s a notebook. I write things of a more personal nature from time to time but really I treat my notebook more like an Etch a Sketch. I don’t take it to seriously. I use it for brainstorming sessions, business planning, checklist making, remembering measurements for the next Ikea run, drawing useless diagrams, taking minutes, and rambling about stuff I’ll never read again. Oh, and I always scribble, no penmanship here.

I use a Moleskine. Without my Moleskine I would feel lost. I can’t believe I’ve only used them for just a few years. It wasn’t that long ago that I knew nothing of Moleskine. Sure I had used journals and booklets in the past but they varied in size, durability, quality, and style. It was David duChemin that showed me the light. Nearly every time we got together for coffee or a pint he would arrive before me and he’d be writing in his Moleskine until I got there (he’s a regular-notebook guy, he thinks the reporter style is stupid). When I’d walk up to the table he’d look at me, smile, say hi, and close his notebook. He’d close it! Like as if he was hiding CIA secrets or something. Can’t I see his creative musings? Why can’t I see what he’s writing? Eventually I had to do what he was doing just so I could return the Moleskine snobbery and snap it shut when he walked up to me. Ha! In your face photog boy. So, that one single act of revenge has turned into an obsession. Now, I could care less what David or anyone else is writing in their notebooks, I’ve got mine and mine is better.

My style is the Moleskine Ruled Reporter Notebook. I’m already a messy writer and so I need the lines, without lines it’s chaos (and not in a good way). The flip-style, though some find it to police-like, is perfect because I don’t have to deal with that horrible seam and I like the amount of vertical real estate for those ideas that belong together (turning a page can kill the flow, I think).

I like to think of my Moleskine as a tool for my creativity because it’s a safe place for me to work stuff out. Bad ideas take comfort with other bad ideas and once they’re on paper I can move on. The good ideas flourish when I jot them down because I often flip through old pages and I love seeing the journey of something that inspires me. The reality is I spend to much time on my computer and a little pen+paper action is always a good idea. Besides, I don’t have that many good ideas, if I don’t write them down I’m screwed!

Here’s my take on a few rules to live by when it comes to being the proud owner of a Moleskine:

  • Always buy two Moleskines at a time so that you never run out
  • Always buy the same format so that they look cool stacked up next to each other
  • Write messy on the first page because you know where this is going so don’t even try to be careful – consider starting with a stupid checklist or a diagram of your living room (3D cubes with shadows are a good standby)
  • Never start a new Moleskine until you’ve finished the other one (skipping to the end, writing really big, or tearing out pages doesn’t count)
  • Don’t start a new page when you have a new idea, just keep writing, blank space is bad
  • Always use the same pen; like my Father-in-law Hugh Rothe, I prefer the Zebra F-301 (it’s an inexpensive pen that never fails and lasts forever)
  • When in awkward social settings flip through the pages to appear focused on an important task or give the impression that you’re writing something profound
  • If you are meeting with someone who also has a Moleskine ask to see what’s in the expandable inner pocket – you know you want to (it’s a “I’ll show you mine if you show yours” kinda thing)
  • Take pride in the fact that it’s the legendary notebook of Hemingway and Picasso

Newly added rules (inspired by David duChemin):

  • Pre-crease each page to ensure a non-stick environment
  • Manhandle bookmark ribbon (if applicable) because a flat, stiff piece of string is just lame
  • Stick it in your back pocket for a minimum of 1 week, if it’s still not broken in… repeat

Posted by Corwin Hiebert


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