Monday, 15 April 2013

Book-planning notebook - which one to choose?

I’m starting to plan a new book. Yes, I know none of the others are published (yet) but there’s one beginning to demand to be let out of my head.
Now, although I will use Scrivener to do the computery bit, I know I will do a huge amount of planning and writing in a notebook too. I always do. There’s something about writing on paper that triggers my thoughts and imagination in a way that typing straight into white space can never accomplish.

But which notebook to choose? I have, after all, rather a large selection to select from!

Discounting anything significantly smaller than A5 (I need space to plan and to write in and smaller books just won’t work), in the notebook emporium currently there are:
[links are to reviews of the notebook by me]

Top row, L-R: cat book, Age Bag with A5+ on top, Ciak, Habana
Bottom row, L-R: A4 spiral bound, Moleskine, exercise book, Oxford Activebook, Cartesio

How to whittle that down to one book to use?

Okay, well, it has to be fountain-pen friendly paper, so that’s the two Cartesios out.
It has to be lined, so that’s the Moleskine out.
I’m not a fan of spiral-bound books as I find the binding gets in the way, so that’s the cat books and the three A4 books out (despite all being surprisingly fountain-pen friendly!).
I’ve tried the Clairefontaine A5+ book before and although it’s lovely to write on, the very wide margin is too annoying and it won’t lie flat.
The Quo Vadis Habana book won’t lie flat enough (I use another one as a running log and it drives me batty for this!)
The Midori World Meister doesn’t have enough pages (it has just 92 sides) although otherwise is glorious (review coming soon)
The school exercise book also has too few pages (96 sides)
I’ve tried an A5 filofax before and although it worked reasonably well, I eventually reverted to a bound book, so that’s the filofaxes and the Oxford Activebooks out (though the Oxford paper would have been a dream to write on and the paper could be filed in either filofax or Mulberry A5 binders).

So what am I left with after that initial whittling?

  • 2x Cartesio large (13 x 21cm) notebooks
  • 1x Moleskine plain notebook (13 x 21cm)
  • 1x Clairefontaine school exercise book
  • 1x Ciak A5 leather-bound notebook
  • A spiral-bound A5 lined notebook with cats on the cover (no idea where that came from. I suspect someone gave me it as a gift as I write and have a cat)
  • 1x Midori World Meister Dainel A5 book (which somehow didn’t make it into the photo!)
  • 3x Oxford Activebooks
  • Several A5 filofaxes
  • 1x Quo Vadis Habana notebook (~15 x 23 cm)
  • 1x Clairefontaine A5+ notebook (a few pages missing but still mostly intact)
  • 1x Clairefontaine Age Bag A4 notebook
  • 3x spiral-bound A4 notebooks

The Ciak A5 notebook or the Clairefontaine A4 Age Bag notebook.

I’ve gone for the Clairefontaine. It lies flatter than the Ciak (though admittedly, not as flat as a bat, but not far off), the paper is divine – far smoother than the Ciak – and the acres of space invite free-flowing thought (I hope!). I used the same kind of notebook for the last book (just with a green cover) and it has been glorious to work in. Fountain-pen just glides across the paper and with 192 pages, there is more than enough space to write.


Clairefontaine A5+ notebook
Clairefontaine Age Bag A4 notebook

Quo Vadis Habana notebook
Cartesio large (13 x 21cm) notebooks
Ciak A5 leather-bound notebook
Midori World MeisterDainel A5 book

Oxford Activebooks
A5 filofaxes

3x spiral-bound A4 notebooks

Moleskine plain notebook (13 x 21cm)
The spiral-bound A5 lined notebook with cats on the cover


  1. I'm surprised that you don't write your book on the computer or ipad. Is there a reason for that? Just curious. I used to always write by hand but now I don't think I could stand to. I do everything else on paper but writing is most comfortable on the computer.

  2. I do write them on the computer (on a programme called Scrivener - reference is in the first main paragraph), but I use notebooks to sketch out character notes, scenes, plotlines, things to check etc. etc. I couldn't cope without a notebook but I don't write the whole book in the notebook and then type it up.
    I couldn't just start a 100 000 word book on the first blank page and keep going until it was done, all on the computer (however good Scrivener is)!

  3. You're so picky! Just like me! Although I like rings more than bound notebooks. I even made yesterday a video about it, I'm editing it now, and will post it on my youtube channel. Look it up, if you want! :)