More Than Doodles: How Notebooking Leads to Great Ideas

May 24, 2010

Being able to physically write my thoughts, notes, and ideas is a part of my creative process that I simply can’t go without. From the early days of crayon doodles to drawings of an entire ad campaign on a single index card, my best ideas seem to always come from my use of pen and paper.

I never really thought much of it until I dove into the marketing industry and witnessed that my propensity to use a pen and paper wasn’t a personal phenomena but an industry-wide one. In an industry that prides itself on being on the leading edge of technology and innovation, why are so many people, including the most influential leaders, opting to use a notepad instead of a laptop?

I think the genesis of this comforting activity lies in everyone’s need for solitude. At a point in time where information overload rears its head every single day - it’s nice to have the opportunity to be left to your own thoughts and ideas. Instead of being bombarded with a story, video, link, or idea every thirty seconds, you can let your thoughts roam without interruption. That’s what the notebook does.

A spiral collection of unmarked pages, a notebook provides just what people need when they are trying to flesh out their thoughts and ideas: a blank distraction-free space. A notebook places no restriction on your thoughts. You don’t have to wait for it to turn on, it’s ready for your scribbling immediately.

Unlike laptops, with their inevitable connection to a myriad of information, a notebook keeps you focused. Because you don’t have the ability to Google, skim your Twitter feed or check your inbox, you’re able to explore the possibilities of your ideas and exactly how far you can take them.  

Looking back, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that a lot of people I work with have their own version of the spiral notebook. It’s refreshing to know that some of the greatest ideas and work can come from such a simple medium. And while some may opt for the classy Moleskin whereas others prefer blank index cards or scrap paper, they all achieve the same goal – they give us the ability to get in touch with our creativity and knowledge – perhaps the two entities most critical to great ideas.  

Do you have your own idea notebook or do you use your laptop? Can laptops accomplish the same thing that notebooks do – will they ever be able to? Take some time, write out your ideas, and get back to me. 


Ben's avatar

Timely article. Over the weekend I found my moleskin in tatters at the bottom of my washing machine. :(

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