July 11, 2022

Here's Why the Notebook Is the Ultimate Tool for Creativity

Reading Time: 3 mins

In an age where everything happens digitally from interacting with friends, to being able to work from home, I find myself regularly coming back to pen and paper.

I use notebooks to brainstorm ideas for tweets, make lists of tasks for a project plan, sketch out wireframes for a website, and journal about my day.

There’s something so simple but powerful about this “old” analog way of doing things that it needs to be celebrated.

A Notebook Doesn’t Have Constraints

Think about all the constraints you have with a digital tool.

Depending on the type of tool, you have to set up a new note, pick a font, set up the size of the page, and find a place for the note to live. This is all before you even start writing down your ideas.

You’re at the mercy of how the tool is designed to be used and the different conventions it puts in place.

With a notebook, you can simply open a new page, find a pen or pencil, and start writing.

You don’t have to worry about font size, where the file lives, or what size brush to use.

If you make a mistake you can cross it out and continue in the flow of your idea.

If things get too messy you can turn over to a fresh page and continue working.

These are all things we used to do as kids so it’s second nature to us as adults.

There’s Less Friction To Start Doing Something

The hardest part of any task is starting it.

Any bit of friction, like waiting for your notes app to load or finding a place to store your idea can be enough for you to avoid doing it.

You think “ah I won’t bother it’s probably not that important”. Then you’ve lost your motivation.

I always avoid making wireframes in Figma.

I convince myself it’s a waste of time because it takes too much work to set everything up. Even using a dedicated tool like Balsamiq is too much work for me so I avoid it.

Instead, I jump straight to high-fidelity mockups and somehow expect everything to magically come together (which it doesn’t FYI).

It’s always something I regret not doing.

Now, instead of trying to wrestle with Figma or Balsamiq, I sketch out wireframes in my notebook (I’m experimenting with a blank/unlined notebook for this and it works well).

This process is much easier, I can do it anywhere, and I’m always glad when I take the time to do it.

Sure, you can take a photo of this page later and add it to your digital notes system but that’s after you’ve done the work of planning out your idea.

You Can Plan Before You Start Building

A designer plans a sitemap before building a site’s navigation.

A programmer plans out pseudocode before programming something.

A writer plans out a rough idea for an article before writing.

It’s important to plan before you act.

I always think of this quote from Albert Einstein: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

A notebook is an ideal tool for all this type of planning.

It Can Be Whatever You Want It To Be

You don’t have to go any further than Pinterest to see all the creative ways people use their notebooks.

The creativity and attention to detail people put into setting up their notebooks is enviable. With that said, it goes to show how a notebook can be used in any way you can think of.

Notebooks today can be blank, lined, dotted, or grid. They come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and with different types of covers. This means you can have completely unique and custom notebooks for each type of project.

On top of this, consider systems like bullet journaling, interstitial journaling, and morning pages.

All these systems encourage you to use your notebook in different ways.

Your only limit here really is your imagination.

A notebook is the ultimate tool for creativity. Change my mind! 😉