For the love of pen and paper

A neat irony has recently sprung up in my life. It is that just as my commitment to blogging more on hopefully one (of 3) internet blogging platforms has been revitalized, so has an obsession in analog tools been stirred up anew. (What I’ve written below is taken word-for-word from another post of mine.)

I don’t know if it’s because I’m in the “going back to school” mindset (it’s only been, what, 11 years…) but lately I’ve been fascinated by old-fashioned pen-and-paper notetaking. I was in Invermere, BC last week and stumbled into a store that had Rhodia notebooks, and Chapters recently restocked the Moleskine line of 18-month calendar agendas with their classic hardbound, gorgeous black covers and elastic – just the feel of these quality notebooks in my hands has revived an old feeling in me.

Although most of my journalling and notetaking over the past 2 years has been electronic (MacJournal, Evernote, and prior to that on a PC, in MS OneNote), a recent search for old university papers uncovered boxes, literally 3 boxes, of my collected journals/writings/scribbles/doodles.

I had forgotten how colourful journalling could be. The freedom of lined/unlined/graph paper, to doodle here or sketch something there, the power of freehand writing and a thousand other things I was able to do by hand that I haven’t really done on my laptop – these things I’ve missed over the past few years.

So I was pleased to stumble upon this post in the Telegraph from last year about a mini-revival of “analog” note-taking that has emerged recently. Angela Webb of the National Handwriting Association is quoted:

We’ve seen a reverse of the trend in the last two to three years, and people are much more keen to handwrite now. Research is coming though from skilled authors who use handwriting to get ideas flowing and then move to the keyboard to develop them.

This jibes with what readers and writers from a couple of my favorite websites, Lifehacker and GearFire Productivity, have mentioned over and over: brainstorm and jot by hand, shape and finalize by type.

Anyway, it’s been a neglected art in my house, and I think it’s something I look forward to bringing back over the next year.

Now: I’m going to go out and hunt out a fresh, pristine, empty notebook that will be my companion for the next few months.

(Yesterday, I think I found a potential candidate: this Japanese import, Maruman Mnemosyne notebook from

Maruman Mnemosyne Special Memo Notepad - A5 (5.8" X 8.3") - 7 mm Rule + Divisions - 24 Lines X 80 Sheets - MARUMAN N195