Analog

Recently, I purchased a Passport sized Midori Traveler's Notebook. Actually, I tried my hand at making one first, which went fine, but the leather was flimsier than I wanted. Also, Kiera stole it. So then I purchased a Midori Traveler's Notebook. I figured that was just as cost-effective as the hit-or-miss purchasing of leather online until I found just exactly what I wanted.

In short, I am in love. I write a lot of notes and lists and journal entries for home and work use. The problem with that is that I'm pretty specific on how and where I like those things to be written, which would always lead to 3 or 4 half-used notebooks scattered about (you don't mix work with pleasure and jouranling gets a dedicated book). With the Midori, I can have the organization that I crave while keeping everything in an easily refillable (one section at a time), convenient package.

Conbine it with another recent purchase, a Christmas gift from myself to myself, if you will, and it gets even better. These days, the Allegory Dignitary is my new favorite writing instrument. It's a beautiful, and beautifully hand crafted pen, and trust me, it looks way better in person than it does in the photos on their website, where it already looks great.

I switched to fountain pens a few months ago for mostly practical reasons. Quite simply, writing with a ball point pen was painful due to the downward pressure required to write (and some niggling RSI problems on my part). Felt tipped pens were a big improvement, but they didn't eliminate the problem entirely. Fountain pens proved to be the answer. They don't require the downward pressure of a ballpoint pen and they're typically slightly larger in diameter than your average felt tipped pen. That was the winning combination for me.

Also? They're just plain fun. Though I purchased both the pen and the notebook for practical reasons (and yes, I did appreciate the design aesthetic of both), it didn't take long for me to fall in love with their intrinsic charm.

I spend many hours writing code, answering emails, keeping up with todos and tasks in Basecamp, and typing out conversations with co-workers in Slack. To be able to come back from all of that and write out something using 10th century technology (crafted from 5000 year old wood), in a simple leather journal is very grounding. Most of my Midori inserts are also made by me, complete with hand-stitched binding, which adds to the very personal feeling of it all.

There's something about the act of writing that I find very comforting. In fact, I started keeping a journal as a way to cope with stress in my life. It's very theraputic, even when you know no one else is ever going to see what you've written (and sometimes especially when you know no one else will ever see it).

Writing has another benefit for me too, though. It forces me to slow down and think. Writing with pen on paper instead of typing does this especially well. This is particularly useful when trying to work through a difficult programming problem, or whenever I need to remember something later.

It's rare that I read back through the things that I've written. It's the act of writing them in the first place that's important. The Field Notes guys get this. The tagline on their website reads simply "I'm not writing it down to remember it later. I'm writing it down to remember it now."

So while the switch to the Midori notebook and Dignitary pen seems like a small shift from scribbled notes with a BIC in a spiral Mead notebook, the mental shift has been significant. It's made writing a journal feel cozy and fulfilling, and it's completely reframed taking notes in a work context to a place of thoughtfulness and attention to detail.

Maybe I'm just romanticizing the whole thing. I probably am to an extent. I've decided it doesn't matter, though, because I enjoy it and it has measureable benefits to my productivity and my mental state.