A secret at the heart of my poetic life …

Today’s post reveals a secret at the heart of my poetic life …


… One notebook is never enough. And I need blank pages. No lines!

My notebooks hold my secrets and wanderings… and my wondering. It’s where the first whispering of new possibilities can be heard. They open their arms to my despair, and they offer themselves when I can scarcely contain my excitement. The page anchors my thinking and offers me the equivalent of a listening ear. Writing in my notebooks takes me to a better place, always.

Different size notebooks fit different purposes. Large ones for planning a life, or the next project. A4 for writing it into existence. Little ones for snatching ideas and making notes. And even smaller ones for cafe table thoughts and ideas on trains.


Notebook loyalty means I have had the same black covered sketchbooks for over 10 years in two sizes. Notebook adventure means I have had multiple types over the last 30 years. Sometimes you can find wonderful notebooks at reduced prices in sales. When I’m deciding whether to buy, I run my hand over the surface of the page to feel if it is delightfully smooth or interestingly textured. The cover matters, but not too much; mostly what counts is the feel of the paper. If it’s sensuous and tempting, I buy it, regardless of size. It goes in the drawer until, one day, it’s just the right size for what I want to think through. 

Thick notebooks can be good, but so are thin little exercise books intended for school children. When I’m travelling, I always look in local bookshops and supermarkets to see what kind of notebooks they sell, and buy one or two to use while I’m there, and to continue thought-travelling after I return home. Malaysian sketch books designed for children have made great journals. In a Greek supermarket I found big sketch books that were light enough to carry home with me. I’ve worked through several over the last few years, filling them with paintings and mind maps and coaching notes and life plans.

I’ve used notebooks with dots, with narrow lines, with wide lines, and with those French exercise books with little squares. But for me – and here’s another part of the secret – the best notebooks have blank pages.

When I was researching and writing academic articles, I sometimes used wide-lines for notes from other people’s books. But these didn’t work so well for my own thinking – that needs more freedom, more room to breathe, not to be caged inside lines.

I now refuse to line up my thoughts. They are not like that. They flit and potter and spread across the page at different speeds. The plain supports the poetic.

If you’ve never experienced the possibility of the plain, unlined page, I urge you to try! You never know what might happen…

There will be much more about using notebooks in the online course Choosing the Poetic Life. If you’d like to be the first to hear more about it, do sign up here to join the mailing list.

And if you’ve enjoyed this post, please forward it to a friend.


Lynne CameronComment