Small Notepads. Why?

by Stuart Lennon

field notes small notepads with phone and pens

I would love to claim some sort of authority and expertise on small notepads and pocket notebooks, but I don’t really have any. OK, I do have quite a few notebooks, but in theory, I’m supposed to sell those.

I rediscovered small notepads a few years back, initially in the form of Moleskine. For several years in the 1990’s, my corporate life was planned and tracked in a Day Timer. Gradually, digital overtook me, and my life became enshrined in Outlook. Between 2010 and 2015, there was no paper in my life at all. No books, no notebooks, no diary. Everything was digital. 

I started using an app called Evernote, and Evernote cooperated with Moleskine to create a notebook that synchronised with the cloud. Well, that at least allowed me to scan written notes into my Evernote account. I soon found the ‘sync’ to be a pain in the …neck, but I really enjoyed the feeling of making notes by hand again. 

So I ditched the app and kept the notebook

It was a small step to abandon the sync, and keep the paper notebook.

Which paper notebook? My Evernote Moleskine was lovely. Black, with a green elastic. Unmistakeably Moleskine. People commented on it in meetings. I had a swish Montblanc ballpoint. I felt quite the corporate cobra. At home, I knew that I had a fountain pen. One that I had bid for, and won, at a charity auction. How cool would that look? A real pen on real paper. OK, OK…so, I’m about as deep as a puddle, but the important point is that I had begun taking pleasure in notes.

Then, I got talking (electronically) with Amanda Fleet, who became my writing buddy. (She does the writing, I do the buddy.) Turns out that Amanda wrote her brilliant debut novel with fountain pens, on paper. She became my enabler – pointing me to different places to look for quality notebooks. 

A world of wonder opened before me. I started buying different sizes and types of notebooks, just for the pleasure of trying them. I had a dalliance with the old school Filofax, loving the cover, but hating the inserts. The paper in French notebooks delighted me, the cool covers of the American books seduced me. Bullet Journal you say? Show me. I was hooked. Still am.

Why small notepads?

As my work became less ‘suited and booted’, I gravitated towards the smaller notepad size. I was no longer constantly accompanied by a briefcase and the man bag is not a look that I can carry off. I needed notebooks that could sit in my jeans back pocket or my cargo pants. A whole new journey began. 

field notes small notepads

I spent a while carrying four small notepads in a leather cover. Quite a pocket-buster! Now, I carry one, sometimes in a cover, but usually ‘naked’.

An average notebook will last a week or two, although I do sometimes carry one of the thicker offerings from Clairefontaine. They can last a month. Right now, I am about to archive a Nock, which will be replaced, poetically, by a Moleskine cahier. I’m in a black phase for some reason.