Dec 072018

I guess it started with role-playing notebooks. I was often the gamemaster so it would be up to me to write up the adventures. As I got more sophisticated, I wanted to keep track of continuity so I would fill up these spiral notebooks with maps, names and vague notes about plots.

As a player, I almost never took notes until I played Call of Cthulhu. Like any Lovecraft hero, I recorded my adventures into madness and despair. Those notebooks were very short.

When I started to write, I only needed one notebook. It had scraps of ideas. Once in awhile I might actually outline something. Mostly though, I used those notebooks to create lists of ideas I wanted to explore.

Nowadays, I have too many writing notebooks to count. There is a drawer in my cabinet filled with nothing by writing notebooks. I start one for each big project, scribbling ideas, character names, outlines and anything I can think of that I can’t use right away.

My chose-your-own-adventure books involve three of four notebooks for each one. I dedicate a page in the notebook for each choice, then I number every page. These notebooks become my hard copy outlines. I use a page for each choice because even though I usually only use three or four sentences for each choice, I rewrite a lot and I need that extra space.

When I got into magic a few years ago, every books recommends keeping a journal. This is so you can record your magical experiments and have a document that you can refer to. That is what it is for in theory, but I find that more often I find the empty pages to be a gentle reminder to do more magical stuff so I can have something to put in those pages. My magic journal is the only one I do on my computer, because I type way faster than I write and I don’t want the urge for brevity. Plus, it is backed up on three computers thanks to Dropbox.

When I moved to Wisconsin, I decided to take up bowling. My first few games were really bad and I got discouraged. I got a tiny notebook to fit in my pocket so I could record the days I played, how many spares and strikes as well as my scores. Only when I wrote them down did I see that I was actually getting better, just with some hiccups. I also found that I bowled for shit on Sundays.

When my Mom got cancer, I drove from Wisconsin to North Carolina to visit her. My wife was just starting her job so I had to go alone. It was the first real trip I had done by myself as an adult. I was a little nervous and overwhelmed by the details I needed to keep up with, so I got a notebook. Using a little magic, I have it a name and a personality to that not only do I have a notebook to keep track of my reservations, mileage and receipts, but I also created a placebo safety blanket of knowing my trip was magically protected.

This year I worked on my biggest book yet. It consumed so much of my head space, that I struggled to keep track of chores. I read a book that had a lighthouse keeper, and the book showed the deterioration of the keeper’s mental state by printing the daily report that he logged. There was something about the listing of chores he accomplished or didn’t finish that really clicked with me. I used to do something similar for my factory job, and I remembered how writing all the breakdowns on my machines made me feel better by how little I accomplished some days. I decided to start keeping a daily housework notebook, and it really helped me keep up with my chores as well as assure me on those days that I got overwhelmed.

Last month, I made fried chicken for the first time in ages. I remembered the seasoning blend, but couldn’t recall the cooking times. I had written them down, but lost track of it. We have a binder style notebook for recipes, but the times and temperature it listed was outdated. The book mostly contains recipes we have printed or cut out. what I really needed was a journal that I could write experiments or works-in-progress until I settle on a final recipe for printing and inclusion in the binder. So that’s why I got a spiral cooking notebook.

I put stickers inside my notebooks. It sounds childish, but it really makes the notebook stand out. It transforms the blank pages into something that has a life of its own. There is also a lot of adult themed stickers out there on the internet.

Anyone else compulsively notebooking?

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