Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor

The Best Thing Since the Rock and Chisel

By Danielle Drees
2004, Danielle Drees

When people are buying toys for writers or writers are buying toys for themselves, they are often misled into thinking that they need to purchase a complicated software program or an expensive new keyboard pad to prevent writer's cramp and carpal tunnel syndrome.  In this article, however, I will introduce you to the latest, most high-tech toy available to writers: the notebook.  The notebook is a slick, streamlined piece of equipment consisting of multiple sheets of paper sandwiched between two cardboard or plastic covers and held together with a wire binding.  It can be purchased in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors.  The notebook is completely wireless and battery-free, and you will never need to waste valuable writing time recharging it.  Notebooks are extremely inexpensive and never experience technical malfunctions (except an occasional error known as "cover-ripping," which can be patched with masking tape).  To supplement your notebook, I would suggest purchasing its low-cost, low-maintenance accessory, the pencil.

The notebook has a wide variety of uses.  A traditional-sized or extra-thick notebook can be used as a journal.  A journal allows you to write whenever you feel the urge to, even if you are separated from your computer, and it helps you keep writing everyday.  An added bonus is that, after you become a famous writer, you can publish all your journals collectively and refer to them as your "memoirs."

Another way to use your notebook (especially if it has dividers) is as a place to record ideas for characters, plots, themes, and other elements you want to include in your writings.  Does chatting with a woman you met on the bus inspire you to write a short story about an elderly lady who decides to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a bus driver?  Jot it down in your trusty notebook.  Does flying over a thick layer of clouds make you long to write a fantasy in which all the characters live in the stratosphere?  Jot that down, too, possibly in a special section of your notebook devoted entirely to "settings."

Finally, if you're the kind of person who makes lots of lists -- lists of character names, of interesting places to write about, of neat new words you want to incorporate into your next novel -- you really do need a notebook.  It's the perfect way to keep all those lists contained in one place so that when you need a name for your newly-discovered hero or an adjective to describe your heroine's glistening golden hair, all you have to do is open up that notebook.

The best thing about notebooks is that they can be used virtually whenever and wherever you need them (except when you're showering, swimming, or standing outside during heavy precipitation).  Notebooks can fit inside your carry-on luggage on airplanes, they can be used during power outages (provided you have a flashlight), and, for those of us without laptops, they're the perfect way to keep you writing while separated from your computer.

So, when looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite writer (or treating yourself to a fun new writing toy), remember the notebook -- the best low-cost, low-maintenance, multi-use toy available for writers today.