Some Thoughts on Thought-Catchers

Journals are cool. Just ask any writer.

Yeah, we all have our computers, iPads and PDAs. Almost all electronic devices these days have note-taking apps…and if not there’s a good chance you can download one for your computer or phone. 

Sure, all that technology shit’s pretty awesome. But we writers still enjoy walking into a coffee shop, ordering some java, and whipping out our beautiful journals to write in while we enjoy all that public ambience.


Because we feel like sex-on-wheels when we write in a journal in public, that’s why. Hemingway wrote in a journal. And PAPA was SEXY!

But there’s more to journaling than lookin’ Old School Cool at the local Starbucks.

Journaling…writing stuff on paper, can actually help jump start your creativity when you’re stuck in the Ninth Circle of Blockage Hell. Ray Bradbury wrote a whole section on brainstorming (writing thoughts down on paper as quickly as possible) in his book “The Zen in the Art of Writing.”

Sometimes a journal for me is a thought-catcher. I think of stuff and I want to write it down. I brainstorm for new ideas.

Sometimes a journal is a story bible and can be a very straightforward, non-pricey item. And as a college student practically living on financial aid, the less expensive the better.

Note: Click on any of the images below to view in larger detail.

First up: Papa’s Pride: I love my Moleskine. They’re not cheap, but Jesus they’re beautiful! This is the notebook Hemingway used. I use the softcover one because I like the way it feels in my hands. I take it with me whenever I go to restaurants or cafes, even if I end up taking a story bible. You never know when a great idea is going to come surfing in…hanging ten on your brainwaves. Writer Journaling Rule #1: Be prepared. Here’s my moleskin:

Hemingway Special

Can’t afford the $18 price tag on one of these babies? Don’t feel bad. I can’t often get a Moleskine myself. That one was a gift.

Next is a shot of an el cheapo faux leather bound journal I bought before I got the Moleskin. It’s pic is featured with a screenshot of a story I actually wrote in it. I bought it at the Dollar Store…for a dollar. Yup. Times are hard, and I’ve been in the 99% my whole life.

Dollar Deals and Steals

This journal still finds its usefulness. This is the thought-catcher I use when I want to do a quick on-paper brainstorm or, as you can see from the accompanying page, when I’m blocked and want to get unblocked by writing a story longhand. I’ve only done that a few times. I’m getting too fucking old…my hand cramps when I write for long periods of time. Then again, I’m a lefty, so writing longhand is not something I enjoy a whole lot anyway.

WIP: "Found Object"

Next up is another cheapie, but a goodie. My Story Bible. I use a Story Bible when I’m working on a Big Project, like my first e-books (coming soon, stay tuned :)), my novellas, or my novels. I plan them using a regular notebook. But not just any old run-0f-the-mill notebook will cut it with me. It has to be a Mead. Preferably one of the smaller ones (6 x 9 1/2) with the pen-loops…but they stopped selling those (bastards), so I’m back to getting the wire ones. I love Mead notebooks as Story Bibles. They are divided in sections (if you get the 3-or-5 subject ones) with file pockets. You can tuck a lot of research away in those puppies. Here is a shot of my Story Bible for the novel I’m researching right now. I’m writing down my ideas for plotlines and character outlines in it:

Mead Five-Star 6 x 9 1/2 5-Subject

This is the Story Bible I’ve had by my side for about six months now. I haven’t got it anywhere near full yet, but it’s well on its way to helping me sort out what will be my next Big Work-In-Progress.

QotH Story Bible

I hope you enjoyed the methodology behind my journaling madness. Please visit the other writers participating in the Scribbles Blog Hop. I’m sure their own journaling experiences are as unique and wonderful as mine.

Happy Journaling!

This post is part of  the “Scribbles Blog Hop.” A bunch of crazy writers got together to blog about our journals. Click on the links below and you’ll be taken to the other websites in the hop. 

Danielle La Paglia:

Anne Michaud:

Marianne Su:

Victoria D Griesdoorn:

Ren Warom:

J.A. Campbell:

Tammy Crosby: 

Chrissey Harrison:

Nathalie Westgate:

Tony Noland:

Larry Kollar:


17 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Thought-Catchers

  1. Your handwriting is so lovely! And I’m with you, most of my notebooks are spiral specials from the dollar store, but occasionally….ahhh, one must splurge. 🙂 Cheers and thanks for sharing your post on the blog hop! 🙂

  2. My handwriting is lovely? I think it’s horrible. I can barely read it myself half the time. Thanks, though. 🙂 Cheapy notebooks provide the same paper as expensive ones, so I’m with you there. I’m just a very practical girl. I do like the looks of some of the fancier ones, but they’re just not my style. Thanks for stopping in on the hop! 😀

  3. Maria, I loved how you captured the reason why we love journals (especially the sexy writer bit). I have a special Scribbles Blog Hop tip for you. I got an imitation Hemingway Special at Walmart. I didn’t pay $18. Happy Hopping.

    • Thanks, Marianne. We writers are rock stars, or we ought to be. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the tip. *makes note to check out journals at Wally World* Happy hopping to you, too! 😀

  4. I love composition books by mead myself. They are a little more expensive but they make me super happy (and most of the ones I have right now were a gift from my mom so even better 🙂 ) I also love my moleskin. I splurged once and I’m still slowly filling it with notes.

    I do my story bibles electronically. I’d love to have them in print but my terrible handwriting and the speed at which I write vs type makes it better to do them on the screen.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Julie/J.A. Campbell

    • Hi, Julie! Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be heading over to your post in a little bit.

      I’ve eyeballed Mead’s comp books in the past, but the lack of file pockets make me not purchase them. I’ve used the old black marbled comp books before, though. Before I got used to file pockets in my notebooks.

      I also confess that ever since I downloaded Evernote, I don’t write near as much in my Story Bible as I used to. I use Evernote for a good portion of my story planning now, for the same reasons you gave…my handwriting sucks and it’s just plain easier to type. I still like printing out some research, putting it in my story bible and taking it with me to write thoughts in as I eat a meal at my local diner or sip a coffee at the coffee shop. I seem to always come up with ideas while I’m out, so I like to still have a back up physical story bible to use.

      Yes, moleskins are worth the occasional splurge. I use mine for random new story ideas and thoughts when I’m out, and as a progress journal and a basic diary. Love love love my moleskin.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Julie. Can’t wait to read your post! 😀

  5. I love the moleskines, but, as you say, a bit pricey for everyday. The mead spirals are nice, but I like the paper in the Black ‘n Red better. They are a bit more than the mead 5-subject spirals, but the paper is worth it if you write with a gel pen. Great pics!

    • Hi Tony!

      Thanks for the tip on the Black ‘n Red. I do use a gel pen (I’m sure you noticed it sticking out of the Mead). I’ve seen that notebook before and thought it looked cool. As I go to Evernote more for the research part of story writing, I may give that notebook a try.

      I’m glad you like the pics. I took them in the cafe where I work at St. Pete College. Great overhead lighting there.

      Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to reading your take on journaling. 😀

  6. I tend to look at Moleskines the same way I look at Macs: yeah, they cost a bit more, but the utility and durability is worth the extra cost.

    As I mentioned in several other bloghop comments, I need pocket-ability. If I can’t just stuff it in a pocket, I’ll leave it behind & won’t have it when I need it. I do love those composition notebooks (esp. the graph paper kind) but until I get a sex change and start carrying a purse, I won’t always have one with me. 😛

    Your comment about Evernote is interesting. I haven’t really used it as much as I should. I’ve thought I ought to learn how to dictate notes into my phone & use to copy them to Evernote… which would allow me to take notes while driving & live to tell about it.

  7. I need to check out that site. The one thing I haven’t explored is audio/video notes with Evernote, though I know it can be done. I use Evernote as a place to keep story ideas and research, for much greener to-do lists, and for copying online web pages and pdfs from my classes. I can even copy and paste the online exams I take so I can go over and study the questions I missed at a later time. I have downloaded “Paradise Lost,” my current assignment in British Lit 1, into Evernote and have been reading it at leisure on my iPhone. So it’s kind of even functioning as an eBook reader for me. 🙂 I could probably do a blog post about all the stuff I use Evernote for.

    I agree about Moleskines. They are so worth the price tag. The suppleness of softcover one I use just feels wonderful in my hands. I love touching it. Sounds kind of kinky, but it’s true.

    I can’t wait to read what you’ve posted about your journaling. I’m always in search of a good pocket notebook.

    Thanks for your interesting remarks on Evernote and thanks for stopping by! 😀

  8. I’d never heard of Moleskine journals before this blog hop. They look really nicely made but no way would I even think of spending that much on something just for scribbled notes! One thing that was taught to me in university is: don’t treat your work as precious. Be prepared to scribble over something to change it, to cross things out that don’t work and generally “mess up” the page in the process of getting it right. If I spent that much on one notebook I’d only ever use it for writing finalised pieces for fear or messing it up lol! …which would defeat the point of having it hehe.

    • I love my moleskine even though its kinda pricey. I have only have the one and I always wanted one. I’m glad it was gifted to me. I don’t think it will be my last one, but I do use it sparingly and tend to use my cheaper notebooks for my rougher work. I appreciate your frugality, though, Natalie, and truth be told, I’m not likely to purchase one on my own anytime soon until I get a better paying job. But my god! Moleskines look, feel, and smell so wonderful. And the paper is a pleasure to write on. I know I will always want to have one.

      Thanks for stopping in and happy hopping! 🙂

  9. You found the perfect phrasing: thought-catcher. That’s the perfect/exact purpose for a journal, to catch thoughts!! And yeah, Moleskine don’t come cheap, but man their paper is so perfect:)

    Happy Scribbles Blog Hop ♥

    • Anne;

      Thanks! I use them for just that purpose. If anyone were to pick up one of my journals and read it, some of it would make sense, maybe, but in other areas (my brainstorming–ie, thought-catching), they’d be like, WTF? But our journals are not for others use, they are for us. Sometimes what gets put inside them gets rearranged for others, though.

      The Moleskine paper feels great under a pen, and as a lefty, I need as much comfort as possible. And the softbound black leather just feels like heaven in my hands.

      Thanks for stopping by, and thank you and Danni for putting together such a fun blog hop!

  10. Pingback: Evolution of a Journal « Danielle La Paglia

  11. Journals are sexy. Dammit! Why didn’t I think of that! It’s funny (and probably a little crazy), but I never feel more like a writer than when I’m sitting downtown or in a cafe with my notebook and pen in hand scribbling away, lost in my own little world. It’s like heaven. And the plucking of keys will never match the exhilaration of a pen scratching across paper.

    • Danni;

      Hahaha! I came up with that sexy bit when I got to thinking “Why do I take my journal and pen everywhere to write?” Because I look like a writer when I do and people look at me and I like it when people look at me. We writers are so vain. 😉 I saw a picture of Hemingway writing somewhere and remembering that, thought “Is that what I look like when I write? Damn, thats HOT!” LOL. XD

      I do feel more like a writer with a pen and paper…and somehow it’s more freeing to the creative mind. I write faster than I type; so for my brainstorming, writing in a journal is the best means to accomplish that. I can catch so many more impressions on paper than on the screen. And you’re absolutely right, the sound of pen on paper is exhilarating!

      Thanks for stopping and, and thanks for the cool blog hop that you and Anne came up with. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s