Expensive writing implements and associated distress


"Sure, Moleskines and journals filled with paper aged in special Grecian
water and hand-beaten by young virgins who’ve recently bathed in pure olive oil
are lovely to behold. But I can’t scribble bad dialogue, inept character
studies, and poorly-rendered scenes on paper that costs a buck or more a

I know because I’ve tried. Friends have given me beautiful journals and
notebooks imported from whoosy-whatsy, and I’ve sat in donut shops staring at
the blank pages for hours before writing three words and carefully crossing them
out. Now the notebooks sit in an ornamental stack at the corner of my
The literary greats may have a justifiable attachment to their drafts, but
mine are crap. Although I write longhand anywhere — in bed, on the subway,
walking down the street — I tear out each page and throw it away as soon as I
type the words into the computer."

Maud Newton
Visit her blog.

Print it in Moleskine MSK format
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9 Responses to Expensive writing implements and associated distress

  1. Bill says:

    Dunno, Maud, maybe it’s because I’m a tech writer and not a novelist, but Moleskines are very useful to me. Not for drafts, but for research, writing down ideas whenever and wherever they arrive, making interview notes, keeping track of projects. Anything but drafting the actual article, which happens for me on the PeeCee or on my beloved netBook.

    Why Moleskine? Because they are durable little critters. Also because research and interviews sometimes take you to places where it’s important to look every inch the total professional. It’s hard to beat a Moleskine on either count.

  2. Doctor K says:

    Likewise, I have to admit my Moleskinerean scrawlings are unworthy–but there is something so appealing about the feel of these little books, that even “crap” developes an organic and mysterious nuance. Writing in them is something like eating dark chocolate or quaffing a vintage bordeaux. Once experienced, nothing else can quite measure up. Enjoy the experience, go for the process, and never mind the product.

  3. Kitz says:

    Your “crap” can’t possibly be any worse than the other “crap” I’ve seen people putting in their Moleskines. In fact, seeing what other people use their Moleskines for encouraged me to put more in mine and to be less critical of my own “crap”. I’m happier now with my Moleskine activity than I’ve ever been. If, on judgement day, I’m asked, “Why did you put THAT in your Moleskine”, I can easily point my finger at someone else’s notebook and say “Well, at least I didn’t do THAT!”

  4. Anonymous says:


    It’s just a notebook. The reason people love Moleskines is because they look good, and open flat. They’re the right size, and well made. Because of those factors, the price is irrelevant.

    If something is worth writing down, then it’s worth writing down in a Moleskine. If something isn’t worth keeping in a Moleskine, then how is it improved by being written on college-ruled loose-leaf?

    If you can’t afford it, then you can’t afford it. But spare us the “I’m not worthy” pap. You’re talking about *paper*. The Star-Spangled Banner was written on the back of an envelope for crying out loud, and nobody’s expecting you to write a new National Anthem.

  5. ian says:

    Nobody is making you read her “pap”. I don’t think she said that only masterpieces should be written in moleskines and fancy journals or that no one should use them. I think her point was that, to her, they weren’t anymore useful than their cheaper couterparts, and might even have been a hinderance to her writing. To each his/her own.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You misunderstand, the pap I was referring to was the whining. Regarding her writing, I cannot comment.

    Her “point” wasn’t that she feels that Moleskines are no better or worse than any other form of paper. (Which, you are correct– they are not. The measure of ones writing is not the medium, but the message.) However, her point was that she “sat in donut shops staring at the blank pages for hours before writing three words and carefully crossing them out. Now the notebooks sit in an ornamental stack at the corner of my desk.” Why? Because she is intimidated by them, not because she doesn’t like them.

    My message to her was, lose the inferiority complex. You’re never going to be much of a writer if you are afraid of a $15.00 notebook. Your first reviews, or first 100 rejection slips are going to be far greater slaps-in-the-face than a rough draft in your private journal. Remember: rejection slips and reviews are against your *finished* and *polished* work. A rough draft is *supposed* to be rough.

    Now, If you cannot afford to write in a Moleskine, that’s a different situation, and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact , people who exercise financial responsibility and conduct themselves in accordance within their own economic capacity are to be applauded, not humiliated.

    So my advice to Maud is, take out one of those ornamental notebooks, and revel in the gift. Enjoy the silky paper. Write your thin plots and weak character studies. Wipe boogers in the margin, fill an entire page with tic-tac-toe; There’s no reason to feel ashamed or unworthy about writing in a nice journal. Modo&Modo sells /millions/ of these things a year, trust me, they’re not *all* being used to write Pulitzer winners.

  7. Joy says:

    Her “point” wasn’t that she feels that Moleskines are no better or worse than any other form of paper. (Which, you are correct– they are not. The measure of ones writing is not the medium, but the message.)

    Take that back, or we shall be forced to taunt you a second time.

  8. Tom says:

    Question: After one rambles in thought on their moleskin for pages on end…how do you know WHERE you wrote a particular thought? How do you organize your thoughts for later retrieval?
    I would really like to know. I love writing in the moleskin but am afraid that a particular idea would be hard later to retrieve.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to write me direct…sloman@charter.net

  9. Bill says:

    Tom, different people use different methods, or combine methods. These have been reported here and elsewhere under the name “Moleskine Hacks.”

    Here are a few of them:

    1. Write a couple of keywords on the upper outer corner of each page, to indicate what’s on the page.

    2. Save a few pages at the end of each notebook and make yourself a page-by-page index of the book.

    3. Keep more than one notebook and make your notes in each according to subject area of entries. (I use Volants — and soon will use Cahiers in the same way when I run out of Volants — to record project notes, one project per Volant. The Volant/Cahier has fewer pages in it, so not as much trouble to find things in.)

    4. Use up your notebook as fast as you can and make a rule for yourself that whatever is in a notebook MUST be used within a certain period of time (hey, if you have a notebook you made two years ago and you haven’t looked at it in all that time, what are the chances that you will need a note from it for a current project?). I vote for a year, but I’m a technical writer and after a year most technology is obsolescent anyway.

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