Carrying a notebook wherever you go can change how you interact with the world. When you make notes or sketch anything that catches your eye, you start to pay closer attention to your surroundings. Your senses for spotting small unusual things become sharpened because you’re training yourself to take notice. This skill of mining your everyday life for inspiration feeds back into your art making practice and allows you ultimately think more creatively.
In 1903 the writer Jack London gave advice still is as relevant today “Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” Making a note on your phone isn’t the same as the experience of pencil on paper and won’t seal in the memory as strongly. In a digital world, the notebook is a safe space to collect all the weird and unexplainable interesting thoughts and things you encounter.
Rule one of a notebook: don’t judge the importance of what you write down. Who knows what it could spark in the future: ideas, poems, sketches, paintings, collages, songs or any other creative endeavour. Write it down.
Using a notebook allows you to get curious about your world, which is something London also encourages: “Find out about this earth, this universe; this force and matter, and the spirit that glimmers up through force and matter from the maggot to Godhead. And by all this I mean WORK for a philosophy of life. It does not hurt how wrong your philosophy of life may be, so long as you have one and have it well.”