The Black Book
Historically, the black book is an innuendo of multiple “partners” and in my youth, I might not have shunned this implication, but as I get wiser, I realize the importance of having something like my black book to keep my everyday thoughts and notes in. I have met many people (Including Mrs. TL) who are list makers and often use single pieces of paper to do this. I have been using my ‘black book’ system for well over a decade now and it isn’t perfect, but it sure helps.
What I Record
I write almost any thought in this little beauty. I have, over the years, written poetry, angry notes, work lists, journal entries, trip logs, drawings, building plans, writing pre-thoughts, recipes, etc. in these (No passwords though – I’ll address this in another post). It is great to have a working history of what I have done and what I’m doing to look back on if I need it.
I have tended to label the date I start using one of these books on the side paper so when they are stacked together, I can tell from what date to what date I have recorded in the notebook. It makes things easier to find.
What I Use
Personally, I have tried several different brands (Lined Pocket Notebook*, Unbranded Pocket Notebook*, Picadilly Pocket Notebook*) of journal book like this but keep coming back to the Moleskine Plain Pocket Reporter* notebook. I like these for two reasons :
- It is very handy to have a small flip-up booklet that fits in your back pocket and you can hold in one hand.
- The line-free paper makes it easy to draw and orient the booklet any way you want it.
I have turned the booklet sideways to draw a more landscape version of something and it is perfect to use in this way. I usually get the hard-bound version as this holds up the best in my experience.
It is really great to have a historical and chronological list of your thoughts and ideas and while this is not a journal, per se, it can certainly act like it at times. There is nothing as simple as a small book like this that can lower stress levels so much – just getting your thoughts, lists, etc. on paper that will endure, is a feeling of safety.
You can, of course, use systems on your smartphone as well, like Evernote, Google Keep, or other proprietary tools, and I have tried these as well. I still find that having a non-electric notepad with me at all times is the easiest way to both remember things and freely ideate without the constant hassle of the interweb beckoning.
I would be interested to hear what systems you have devised to keep your thoughts and lists.