Wednesday, March 07, 2012


At the 2010 World Fantasy Convention, I spoke with Howard Andrew Jones, and he showed me a small notebook he carried around with him that he used to record his thoughts. I assumed these were writing ideas or the megalomaniacal musings he’s prone to (those who know him can back me up on that), but I didn’t actually read through it.

A short time later, I decided it was time to invest in a notebook of my own. And I already had one on hand that my wife had given me as a gift. It’s a hand-sewn, leather-bound cover with a leather strap to tie it closed. On the inside, it has pockets on the left and the right so that I can slide the covers of a notebook within. But I don’t just use any notebook; I use a notebook of thick, unlined parchment paper with a rustic look to it – not the bleached-white pulp found at a supermarket. I love the way it feels, and it gives my notes more of a fantastical feel, making them twice as good in my mind (okay, not really – but they do look cool).

I record ideas for new stories as well as notes on existing stories. I keep my notebook with me most of the time, so I’m rarely dropping ideas. Not that all ideas lead to stories or that all notes get folded into existing stories. But if a noteworthy thought comes to mind, I’ve got it. I’ve found this to be quite invaluable.

I think what helps is that my notebook is special; it’s not just some piece of paper shoved in my pocket, and I’m not just using some Smartphone app. It’s ink on a page. It demands to be used.

I recommend purchasing something unique to your personality – something you’d find worthy of your ideas. Then try it for a month. See what you jot down. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll record in the notebook and how you can expand a wisp of a thought into something tangible within the moment.


Beth said...

Hey, Matthew. I clicked on the link to your blog over at AW and fond this post, where I discovered that we have a mutual friend: Howard. I had forgotten that he likes to carry notebooks around, and I seem to recall he likes nice ones, with leather covers and such.

Anyway, just saying hello to fellow fantasy writer.

Matthew Wuertz said...

Yes, he does carry nice ones. I think John O'Neill got him into the ones he currently carries, but I'm not positive.