My thinking on this started the other day, when I decided I had to have this, a ruled-paper journal published by Insight Editions and recreating the cover of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased as seen in the film Beetlejuice.
Yep. Had to have it.
I’m probably not going to actually write in it, you understand. That’d just be silly! Who does that?
(What? That’s the whole point of these things? Oh. Well, then.)
There are all kinds of writing journals out there, ranging from your ordinary, everyday, unexciting book of blank or ruled pages to those featuring writing prompts and other exercises that (supposedly) get the muse’s blood pumping when it’s acting like a whiny little shit. Then there are the ones aimed at kids, from your basic diary (complete with lock!) to stuff like Wreck This Journal, which I have to confess is a damned brilliant idea. My kids love those. I mean, where was this kind of thing when *I* was a kid?
Thinking on it, my flirtation with “writing journals” of one sort of another likely goes back to my military days, where we used these green “log books” to write down just about anything and everything. In the days before “day planners” and fancy calendars from places like Franklin Covey (which are so ridiculous that my company literally sent us to an actual class on how to “properly” use one. Not even kidding.), there was the log book.
These green weenies were the lifeblood of a young Marine of your acquaintance. My whole life was in an ever-growing collection of these little bastards. Everything from phone numbers to notes from meetings and orders from officers to software installation and hardware configuration procedures to hand-drawn diagrams for making our own printer cables and whatnot. Hey, this was before the internet, where we had to figure out all of that crazy shit for ourselves.
Anyway, it was inevitable that I’d start using the things to jot down stories and whatever. Even way back then, I was a budding writer wannabe. I still have a couple of the log books containing those oh-so very awful stories and whatever. A recent stint working on a government contract brought me back into the world of these things, which are still around and still kicking ass and taking names.
Now, as a writer and despite living in the Electronic Age, I still do a lot of scribbling, idea-spinning, and general dabbling via pen and paper. However, I’ve never really been one for needing to be seen with a fancy writing journal. Instead, I’m happy with such stalwart helpers as your general purpose legal pad, spiral notebook, or the champion of low-cost journaling: the Composition book.
I buy these things a half dozen at a time, and there’s always one in my backpack or messenger bag. They’re perfect for working out story ideas and other short-burn type writing, but I’ve been known to write entire scenes or chapters in them, depending on the situation. When I travel on vacation, I’m usually loathe to take a laptop with me, so a couple of Composition books are handy if the writing itch strikes.
However, I’m certainly not immune to the siren’s call of a fancy writer’s journal. It’s happened, and upon reflection it’s happened more times than I care to admit. After all, somebody has to be buying those “moleskin” journals that make you look all erudite and hipster when sitting at the bookstore cafe pretending to write while you’re really just reading Facebook or Twitter, or writing pithy blog posts like this one in order to avoid actual, productive writing, right? Not just me?
Then there are the journals that make me laugh when I see them in the store. Like the aforementioned Handbook for the Recently Deceased, other treasures have been encountered at various bookstores, demanding that I take them home with me. For example:
These are so me, right?
Of course, I can’t be a writer of Star Trek stuff without Star Trek being represented:
And finally, not because they’re actually useful as writing journals, but rather just because they look cool sitting on the desk:
I think this might really be a sickness.
But, when it’s all said and done, my trusty Composition book remains my weapon of choice. They’re inexpensive, I don’t care if they get damaged, and they’re just the “right” size for spewing words out of a pen onto paper.
What say you? If you are the sort to write longhand for any length of time, do you have a personal preference or favorite, or dependable standby that’s always there when you need it? Fess up, writer types!