Anything is possible…
We all are attracted to things that allow us to see possibility in our lives.
New Year’s resolutions promise the dawn of a whole new era – more exercise, better eating, less annoying habits. Birthdays, once you reach a certain age, can scare the shit out of you as you realize you may possibly be running out of time at an alarming rate, and you’d better get your act together and make this the year you finally take up yoga or skydiving or vegan eating (as soon as you finish off the birthday cake). And my favorite possibility – springtime. When the plants are growing, the birds are happy, and by golly everything looks fresh and new and promising…
And so we take that attitude of possibility with us when we go shopping. For example, how many times have you bought a new sketchbook, notebook or blank journal and taken it home, all excited about your new purchase? There’s a good chance you’ve done this, because there seems to be a huge market for blank books. Someone must be buying these things! (The only statistic I could find on the interwebs was one web site, that in 2011, estimated that maybe 1 million Moleskines alone were sold each year*. And Moleskines are just a drop in the bucket of the entire universe of blank books…)
I’ve bought quite a few notebooks over the years – just sitting here at the kitchen table, I can see two sketchbooks and 2 lined journals. I’ve bought new ones to take on trips. I’ve bought new ones because the cover was pretty. I even received an entire BOX of lined notebooks from a financial product wholesaler, so I am SET with about a billion First Trust Advisors blank books. I’ve bought sketchbooks for drawing, one for watercolor, some for art journaling, and not just a few for the hell of it.
How come we do this?
OK, there may be a few other words that come to mind, like “I need a blank book to write notes in for my anger management class,” or “I need a new journal because that other one I bought last week doesn’t fit in my ______.” [purse] [backpack] [glove box]
But if you follow these statements back, back even further, always asking yourself why you bought that notebook – it always ends up at one answer – possibility. You are gonna fill that notebook up with your awesomeness from cover to cover.
Any day now.
I BUY blank journals and sketchbooks and whatnot, but then I take them home and sit there and look at my purchase and think, “but it’s so _________.” [fancy] [empty] [intimidating] [big]
“I can’t write in that! What if whatever I put in there sucks! I’ll mess it up!”
And so the blank book sits on the shelf and I end up with stuff on 12 scraps of paper and 27 post-its scattered all over the house instead.
Do you do this? I suspect that at least half of all people who buy blank books don’t actually use them. I seriously doubt I am alone here. How many of these things do you have sitting on YOUR shelf? Come on – be honest now!
Taking pencil to (spiral bound) paper
I will report, however, that I’ve been making progress lately. Ever since I became self-employed, I write things down a lot more. A few months ago, I took the first step and wrote something down in my journal. It was hard to get over that “I’ll mess it up” feeling but I avoided that by actually leaving the first page blank – so when I open it I don’t see whatever possibly stupid thing I wrote down.
Soon I progressed to writing down whatever I was thinking, but then tearing out the page because it really was STUPID. Baby steps y’all.
Now I just write stuff down. In my notebook. Maybe it’s just 3 words that help me clarify a thought. Maybe it’s part of a story that I’ll never get back to. Whatever it is – it’s in the journal. And it’s ok. I actually have 3 journals around the house, just so if I am thinking of something I have a place to write it down. Because when you write something on a piece of paper, with a pen or pencil, you are making it more real. I really do believe that committing something to paper is much different than committing it to phone or tablet or computer. (No, I didn’t write this article out on paper first, but I DID write notes for it in my journal!) And if you write it all down in a journal, your brilliant (or mediocre) ideas are less likely to end up in the laundry or stuck under the table.
Journal as history
Last spring, when I went to Texas for my 2015 Spring Coffee Tour, I took several blank books with me, including a small blank journal that I had made by hand. I cut the paper, glued it together, and made a cover. I put it in my bag, and used it to take notes about all the places I stopped for coffee. It was such a great exercise to write down what I was seeing and tasting and hearing and feeling. Maybe there’s no brilliant words in there, but they’re my words, I wrote them, and I’ll have them when I look back and reminisce about Coffees I Have Loved. (Hey that’s a great book title, wait a minute…)
I think I’ll make another book like this and take it along with me next week on the 2015 Summer Coffee Tour. What possibilities wait for me in those blank pages…
Do you have blank journals at home? Leave a comment below, and let us know how many, and if you use them or not – I’d like to know! Whoever has the most, wins a prize!
“Moleskine Monday: A Million a Year? Or More?” from “Notebook Stories” published 6/6/11