Whenever I am ready to start a new notebook, I get scared. Particularly if it is a nice one. I do this dance with myself where I make excuses not to start it because I would rather not ruin it. Of course, I do eventually start writing in it, and within a very short time it is battered and bruised like all my other ones. Doing its important work until the cycle starts again.
I love notebooks. I always have, even before I was a serial notetaker, I loved the idea of having loads of stationary and filing it up with thoughts and ideas. This hardly ever became reality because I never knew what to write to give this delightful new notebook the excellent content it deserved. My hand writing sucks after years of typing everything up in academia and publishing explosively online. Seriously, it’s embarrassing.
These feelings of dread are not exclusive to me. I read numerous posts about people spending money on notebooks and not knowing what to write in them. Worrying about making the perfect Bullet Journal setup (me), or wanting to supplement their notes with cute little doodles but not actually being able to draw (also me). When the only thing you can do it ruin it, and do it the justice it deserves.
Matt Christey shares these feelings, with a bit of animosity mixed in. “I hate new notebooks. They’re too perfect. Especially when the paper is nice” he says before systematically ruining a page of every new notebook he buys. By creating one intentional fuck up, this allows him the space to fill the rest of the pages with things that might not work, but won’t be as bad as the ruined page.
Starting a new notebook is a bit like standing on the edge of doing something dangerous. There’s a mixture of “I better not mess this up” with a realisation that you actually need to use this thing. As I said the only thing to do is get on a ruin it. A new notebook is made to be used and abused by its owner, otherwise what’s the point?