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Notebook vs. Computer

notebooksI love this Notebook & Pen Swap idea from The Paper Trail Diary. Each time I’m in Chapters, I gawk longingly at the stationery selection but always come away empty-handed. The reason isn’t that I don’t use notebooks. The reason is that it’s been ingrained in me that you write in cheap, throwawayable notebooks that don’t make you cringe if you write nothing but crap.

But what about notebooks vs. computers? Is there a clear winner there?

I rarely go anywhere without a notebook. I have a small Moleskine one that tucks in my bag or travels in my pocket for lunchtime walks; these days, it seems to get used more for jotting notes about household chores than for prize-winning literary thoughts.

My main one is a spiral school notebook. If I’m at work or on the road and an idea pops up, down it goes. If I’m at home and my computer isn’t handy (teenagers have a habit of stealing laptops), down it goes. If it’s the middle of the night and a thought can’t wait until morning, down it goes—sometimes in pitch black in a barely legible scrawl.

This notebook gets the heaviest use at sunny summer lunchtimes. The water’s edge is right by my day job, so I’ll settle on a towel for an hour and let the ideas flow.

Everything I jot, though, I then type on my computer. So while the notebook is good for on-the-go thoughts, the serious work happens electronically at home. And once there’s a first draft, nothing but a computer will do.

Studies show writing by hand offers clear benefits. But in my life, each medium has its place. I’d lose on-the-fly inspiration if I didn’t have my notebook. I’d feel too flustered and unorganized if I didn’t have my computer.

Which do you prefer?

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About the Author

Posted by Galadriel

Hi, I’m Galadriel: blogger, author, reader and resident of a quaint small town in the breathtaking West Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. I have a long answer here:

    But the short answer is I can’t use pen and paper anymore. My wrist hurts too much when I write for too long. I probably have a bit of arthritis.

    I carry a Surface Pro with me, which is about the size of a notebook. I have the option of handwriting in OneNote using the stylus, but when I really want to write, I attach the keyboard.

    • I’ve thought about using some sort of electronic notebook so I don’t have to retype everything I’ve written, but must admit I’m rather low-tech. I’ll have to look into the Surface Pro.

  2. thewriterscafe247

    I use both. In general I use notebooks for jotting down ideas that might crop up when I am away from my desk because they are portable and inexpensive. I also use them for any plot diagrams or rough outlines I might think up. For any major writing I go to my laptop because I can write faster than I could if I tried to do it by hand and also because my handwriting is awful. LOL

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