Writing Tips: The Moleskine Method, Part 1
November 7, 2009 2 Comments
I always have an unwieldy number of writing projects doubtfully spinning into existence at the same time. One tool that has proven its value is the Moleskine.
The Moleskine is a thin booklet (called a cahier) of blank pages bound together with professional stitching and a sturdy but flexible cover. It comes it various sizes and several colors (charcoal black, a déclassé brown called “kraft,” a Mediterranean blue, and red). I favor the black. The inside back cover has a pocket that holds the stray item. The pages are formatted to taste. For writing purposes, I prefer the Moleskine with ruled pages. The ideal size is 18 ½ x 25 centimeters (7 1/4 x 9 13/16 inches)—the “cahier x-large ruled journal” version. Pages are a creamy light yellow-green color. While this may not sound suitable, it actually is. This shade is easy on the eyes, even in bright sunlight. Pages are also acid-free. Especially convenient is the spacing and color of the the horizontal lines. The top margin is 2 centimeters, and the rest of the lines are about ½ centimeter apart. There’s a bottom margin of 1 centimeter. The lines themselves are faintly drawn in a shade that complements the pages and the cover.
There are 60 thin sheets to provide 120 pages of writing space when folded tightly and stitched securely. The thickness of the whole is less than half a centimeter. (A typical book of 300 pages, measuring 5 ½ x 8 ½ inches, is about four times this thickness [i.e., 2 centimeters]). So the Moleskine is compact. Though thin, the pages hold up well. A faint imprint of the word “Moleskine” appears at the bottom on the back side. Otherwise, there are no markings. Makers of the trademark Moleskine are rightly confident that it will be recognized as a Moleskine without the usual graffiti imposed on other consumer goods.
The particular Moleskine I’ve described has the ideal dimensions for the busy and mobile writer. It travels lightly and compactly, and does not suffer injury easily. The ones I buy are packaged three together. I estimate that I fill one about every three months (or one per quarter).
While I use this Moleskine primarily for writing related to works in progress and for writing ideas, I don’t hesitate to make other kinds of notes, as well. This includes project ideas and lists, wish lists (usually book titles), lecture notes, diagrams, quotations—whatever. You might say that the Moleskine works for me as a kind of chapbook. I have even prepared notes for sundry lectures and public presentations, which I then use during my presentation. Very handy.
Using the Moleskine for Rough Drafts
It’s easy to think that the rough draft of something I’m writing has to be prepared at my desk, at a pre-established time, with a singular writing focus, and without distractions. But this is the real world. I need a way to get things done, to exploit the odd moment, and to capture the serendipitous thought or thought stream. Voilá! The Moleskine.
Note 1: cahier is French for “exercise book” or “notebook.” For pronunciation, see a good dictionary, or click on the red speaker icon here.
Note 2: For value, I suggest purchasing the Moleskine from Amazon. I’ve linked here to the version of Moleskine I use for writing. This is the “ruled cahier journal x-large” (black). Three journals are included in one set.
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