4 min read.Updated: 11 Feb 2021, 08:54 PM ISTHarish Bhat
Digital devices will get upgraded and replaced every few years. But your good-old diary can remain with you forever, familiar and unchanged
Ibegan the New Year with a new work accessory—a notebook, gifted by my wife. The cover is a bright orange and the soft pages are bound nicely with thread.
What I have noticed, since I started using this beautiful notebook made by century-old Leuchtturm1917, is that I’m writing much more, jotting down things beyond routine notes and bullet points. It now contains a number of inspiring quotes, interesting and sometimes totally random ideas that occur to me during the day, and a number of intriguing doodles whose complexity is directly proportional to my boredom during some meetings.
I also confess that I love showing off the bright orange colour during Zoom calls and in regular meetings, secretly hoping it makes me look and feel younger and hipper than I actually am.
This has, in turn, made me reflect on the value that notebooks bring into our lives. Lost in the midst of notepads on our digital devices, many of us have abandoned paper notebooks, which I think has been to our general detriment.
Take a look at all these benefits that notebooks can bring into our lives.
Notebooks help you record your thoughts the very moment they occur to you, and you can then keep playing with them, refining them, as you go along. As Leuchtturm1917, the premium stationery, say, “Cross them out, edit them, forget them, find them again, doodle around them, define them, revise them, make sketches, at your desk, on the train, up on a mountain, on a beach, in the bath, in bed."
If you carry a small notebook and a pen wherever you go, you don’t have to fear losing any thought. Who knows when that crazy marketing plan or product idea which has just struck you, may come of use ? I have seen many CEOs and managers carry a small notebook with them, for this very reason. Notebooks are the best antidote to forgetfulness.
A notebook at your constant disposal encourages you to be creative. Empty pages welcome you to write prose or poetry in them. Most writers, including the growing tribe who aspire to write well, have their favourite notebooks.
If you are an architect or engineer or graphic designer, notebooks invite you to sketch your designs in them. If you are a scientist, you can use them to jot down your formulae and hypotheses. If you are in love, God bless you, you can use these pages to write out your secret notes of endearment, till you eventually muster up the courage to share them. I believe that the more simple or beautiful your notebook is, the more conducive it is to the flow of creative expression.
A style statement
A notebook is no longer just a book to write in, it’s also a style statement about you.
A Moleskine in your hand, for instance, says something about your using the same brand that has been used by legendary artists and thinkers over the past 200 years including Pablo Picasso, Bruce Chatwin and Ernest Hemingway. On the other hand, a leather-bound Montblanc says something about your taste for avant-garde luxury products and the expensive, exclusive things in life. And should you choose to use India’s own, relatively inexpensive Classmate or Navneet notebooks, that says something too— about the unpretentious simplicity that you prefer in life.
The colours you use, from a sedate black or dark blue, to a flaming orange or purple, also make a statement for the kind of person you are or want to be. Whichever way you look at it, the “notebook statement" is yours to make. Much like a wristwatch, pen or shirt, a notebook is yet another fashion accessory you can flaunt.
An un-digital space
So much is going digital all around us that we sometimes desperately seek an un-digital space to unwind in. Notebooks can provide this, because when you pick up your pen and write in a notebook, you transport yourself to a different, old-fashioned world, where charm and elegance are far more important than hotspots and Wi-Fi speed. What’s more, with paper notebooks, you can be far more certain of the privacy of your writings, compared to the digital world, where we are constantly worrying about how all our data is getting shared with all and sundry. Also, a good thing about notebooks is their instant accessibility at all times—you don’t have to wait for them to boot up, and neither do you need to get anxious that they will run out of battery in the next 10 minutes.
Let me end with a final submission. Notebooks, like albums that contain printed photographs, have a sort of permanency to them. Digital devices and software tools are likely to get constantly upgraded and replaced every few years, and how this will impact all the content you have created and stored in them, is rather unclear. But your good-old notebook, with all your jottings, can remain with you forever, familiar and unchanged.
(Harish Bhat works with the Tata Group. He thinks notebooks also have a nice nostalgia effect. They take us back to our school and college days, which were some of the best times of our lives.)
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