For as long as I can remember, I've been Journal Guy, keeping a Moleskine notebook around for random jots of ideas, thoughts, snippets of stories. The little black rectangle, with its elastic band to keep it shut, has been a constant companion ever since I discovered them. Before that, I wrote in college-ruled composition notebooks, a leftover from high school literature classes.
Recently, however, I discovered the Leuchtturm1917 brand of notebooks, and I've been using them
exclusively ever since. I heard about the brand from, of all places, a Tim Ferris podcast episode featuring author Neil Gaiman. Gaiman gushed about the notebooks and how he'd used them to write the first draft of his novels. I had fallen into a serious rut and case of writer's block with my latest work, IN THE FOG, so I decided to try out one of the notebooks myself—nevermind the fact that I had several semi-filled Moleskines lying around. I figured, if it was good enough for Gaiman, it would be good enough for me. I needed some inspiration, some strike of lightning to come out of the pages, and I hoped that the new notebook would be just the thing.
I ordered the plain black cover (no need to get fancy) from Amazon and waited the customary two days for it to come in the post. One of the first things I noticed was that it was slightly wider than the Moleskine notebooks I'd been used to, and I liked it. It didn't feel as narrow, and it had some heft to it. Opening it up, I was surprised to see some great details like the Index at the front of the book where you can write down the page numbers of your notes for later reference. And don't worry about hand-numbering pages either—that's already done.
On my desk or a table at Urbana Coffee Works, the notebook lays flat. Being left-handed, this is a huge plus, not having to deal with a bump in the middle of the book due to the binding. My pen of choice, a Pilot V7, feels great on the paper, which is miles ahead of Moleskine in terms of quality and thickness, and there's very little ghosting on the back of the pages.
I now also use the Leuchtturm1917 official Bullet Journal for everyday note-taking/idea jotting/to-do task lists, as well as a standard lined journal for more long-form journaling. And now, thanks to Neil Gaiman, I have this incredibly romanticized idea of writing the first draft of American Atonement (due out Nov 2020) completely by hand in a Leuchtturm.
All in all, these are my new favorite notebooks. That first Leuchtturm1917 that I received from Amazon completely saved IN THE FOG as handwriting through the writer's block allowed me to slow down and work through the story. If you're a notebook junkie like me, if you're one to journal, write your ideas and dreams, give them a try. You won't be let down.
Besides, like I said, if it's good enough for Neil Gaiman, then it's good enough for me.