When it comes to putting your words on the page, having the best notebook for writing or the best notebook for journaling is crucial. The best notebooks for writers are a pleasure to fill with words because of the thickness of the paper and their simple beauty.
There’s a sense of wonder in sitting down with an empty page, inhaling the clean, fresh scent of the paper, and feeling the weight of the pen in your hand. This feeling is a little hard to explain, but if you are a writer at heart it’s also likely that you have experienced this sensation. In this post, I wanted to share my choices for the best notebooks for writers that you can pair with your favorite pen and a good writing desk.
Just to be clear, it doesn’t take much to get started writing other than inspiration, a writing implement, and some paper. Any old paper will do. After all, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became the National Anthem on the back of an envelope, didn’t he? Abraham Lincoln scratched his grammar lessons out on a wooden board using a stub of charred wood, and he eventually managed to write The Gettysburg Address.
Let’s think about that.
You can go down to the local drug store and buy a spiral-bound notebook for a couple of dollars. That’s a perfectly serviceable notebook in a pinch. However, the reality is that you get what you pay for in a notebook. In your cheap notebook, the paper will be flimsy and the sharp edge of the metal wire will get hooked on the cuff of your sweater. Just sayin’.
Don’t your words and your writing deserve so much more?
That’s where a good quality notebook for writing comes in. Notebooks for journals, notebooks for writing, notebooks for planning your dreams and goals—call them what you will, they are not only an essential tool for writers but also a reward in themselves.
The best notebooks for writers spark creativity.
What to look for in a writer’s notebook:
All notebooks are not created equal. The quality of a notebooks depends on a number of factors, such as the binding, the thickness of the paper, and whether or not the paper is acid-free.
Let’s explore the best notebooks for writers.
Notebooks fall into two categories. Spiral-bound notebooks and bound notebooks. The spiral-bound notebooks do tend to be more inexpensive and they have the advantage of laying flat. However, the bound notebooks are certainly more elegant and pleasing in many ways. In fact, most writers would say that their favorite notebooks for writing and journaling tend to be bound notebooks simply because they are more special. Many better-quality bound notebooks are designed with the writer in mind so that they lay flat, making it easy to write on both the fronts and backs of pages.
Thicker paper tends to absorb ink more readily and creates a more pleasing tactile experience in writing. Standard copy paper is about .05 mm thick, whereas some of the notebooks we are going to look at have a paper thickness of .2 mm or more—at least 4x thicker.
Another consideration is whether or not the paper is acid-free. You may have noticed how some paper turns brown and even brittle with age; the acids used in the paper-making process also cause paper to self-destruct over time. The ink will become faded and hard to read.
On the other hand, acid-free paper stands the test of time and will remain legible for years and years—perhaps even for centuries.
Take my favorite notebook, for example. It is a
I love this notebook. For the past year, I have used it as a bullet journal to set my daily to-do list, track speaking engagements, book signings and deadlines. I also set my monthly goals for writing and personal development. At the end of each month, I write a narrative of how things went.
For me, this beautiful writing notebook has become part of my morning ritual. Using one of my favorite writing pens, I look forward to the act of sitting down to write, cup of tea at my elbow and dog at my feet. The right notebook can inspire one to write.
This is my special notebook. Soon, I will be buying another one to use for special writing projects.
Recently, I listened to a Timothy Ferris podcast in which the special guest was author Neil Gaiman. He described how he likes to write in longhand and that he has a pristine, leather-bound journal from the 1850s that he is saving for his own special writing project. The thought of someone like Neil Gaiman saving this notebook for a special story was quite intriguing. What would he write in such a notebook? What would you?
My own daily writing such as interview notes takes place in a more workaday Mead 9 x
Once filled with writing and research and brainstorming, I keep these notebooks lined up on my bookshelf, going back several years.
Other notebooks that I have tried and loved include anything by Moleskin (pronounced Mole-skeen, by the way). This is a classic bound journal that makes a good notebook for writing or a bullet journal. The Moleskin has a heritage going back to the era of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Leuchtturm Bullet Journal and Notebook
There is also the Leuchtturm1917, but I won’t attempt to pronounce that. (Actually, it sounds like Lloyd-Strum—bonus points for doing that in a Colonel Klink accent.) The Leuchtturm1917 would do nicely as a special writing notebook.
In many ways, the Leuchtturm1917 is the Mercedes-Benz of notebooks. For starters, it has that Germanic name! According to the notebook maker’s website, only acid-free paper is used, which is a benchmark for the finest notebooks. A quite useful feature is that all of the pages are numbered and there is a blank table of contents to help keep your writing organized. Several pages at the end of the notebook are perforated to make tearing out and sharing pages easier. This notebook could only get better if it fixed us a nice cup of tea, then tucked us in bed and read us a story.
Any Leuchtturm1917 would make a treasured splurge gift for the writer in your life: perhaps someone getting started on a writing project, a new graduate, or someone who might want to keep a journal while on the journey or adventure of a lifetime.
You can get these notebooks in a lined version more suitable for writing or a version with dotted pages more suitable for a bullet journal.
Let’s be practical:
Lately, when attending conferences, I have tired of lugging around my Macbook for taking notes. As we get older, it’s all about streamlining and minimizing, isn’t it? Also, when I have my Macbook with me I find myself tempted to surf something like realtor.com at the boring parts of writing conference talks.
What’s the solution?
I now carry a very nice little journal by C.R. Gibson. This journal is just 3×5 and fits neatly into a blazer pocket. The cover is of bonded leather, containing 192 thick, ruled pages, with a ribbon to mark your place and a fabric loop to hold it neatly shut when stuffed full of folded handouts and business cards. Practical yet elegant, this notebook is such a joy for taking notes during conferences or while visiting museums that I have bought several.
What notebooks will you find both inspiring and practical? We’ve gathered a few here for you to peruse.