The New Notebook

There are few things in life that get the creative juices flowing more than a new notebook full of fresh blank pages, as clean and as pure as a bank of freshly fallen snow.

The Blank Page

So Many Pages, So Many Possibilities

As you sit there with pen in hand looking down at the first page, it almost seems sacrilegious to make a mark. And what to write? What to write?

A toododlist perhaps?

A mindmap of a new idea?

A blog post?

Or maybe a little creative writing…

The wet black boughs, their bark slick with rainwater, shimmer in the errant shaft of light which slices through the pregnant clouds. Scattered haphazardly, randomly, the magnolia flowers, thick creamy petals unfurling, gleam illuminated against the gloom. Lush and exuberant, they perch, unfettered by foliage, upon the tree like a flock of small exotic white birds that were merely passing through on their way to warmer climes. A place more verdant where the droplets of moisture hang in the air and form a fine film over flushed begrimed skin. A place where the body moves slowly, stiffly: the limbs, heavy and insect-bitten. Hair clings to the scalp while small rivulets of sweat make their way down the nape, between shoulder blades, tracing the spine, only finding obstacle when they approach the ancient grey elastic of a bra strap which has pressed so tight against the skin that, beneath the threadbare fabric, angry red cries out in a cacophony of itches. A place where the mind can masticate the regurgitated morsels of regret.

What would you write on the first page of your new notebook?


April 28, 2008. Creativity, Inspiration.


  1. Anna replied:

    I’m not so interested in visiting the “place where the mind can masticate the regurgitated morsels of regret”. What a horrible, horrible place.

    My notebook is for everything. Reminders and todo’s, notes on what I’ve read, drafts for blog posts, poetry, goals, dreams, prayers, random stream of consciousness blatherings …

  2. amypalko replied:

    No, I wouldn’t want to be there either, Anna, although I am intrigued to find out who this girl is and how she ended up there…

  3. ksaasmith replied:

    I always have a difficult time starting with a clean slate. It seems I need a motivating force or idea to get the “creative juices” flowing. Without that ‘idea’, I tend to just doodle and sketch in random direction.

  4. captainstardust replied:

    what a startling contrast between the sweet spring elegance of the environment and the heaviness of the girl we find there! i’m intrigued to find out who she is, too.

  5. Karen Wallace replied:

    Beautiful Amy. Your words paint the pictures in my mind. I can see her there, in that tropical setting, dirty, sweaty and covered in bites – only you put it so much more poetically!

    What a great starting entry into a new notebook (don’t you just love that blank canvas, waiting for your pen to create new worlds?)

    Please let us know if you find out who she is, and how she ended up there!

  6. Nicola replied:

    I’m not a writer by anyone’s standards, but I do love the first day of a new notebook. I studied for about 7 or 8 years and I always love that first week of semester where all your course books are new and you write nice neat notes in your first class. I love the intentions to keep writing neat notes in my nice new notebooks and do all the required readings before class. Then by the end of the third week you’ve forgotten your notebook and written on scrap paper, never did quite get around to doing the first weeks readings, started writing your first essay the night before it’s due, and missed at least 3 classes 😉 By exam time you are vowing and declaring to NEVER do this again…. then the cycle starts again.

  7. Brett Legree replied:

    Oh Amy, this is such a nice picture you have painted. I can smell the paper… 🙂

    I’m looking forward to cracking open my next Moleskine.


  8. Daz Cox replied:

    yep, I love a nice fresh sketchbook, you have to just dive in and mess up a page!

  9. Robert Hruzek replied:

    Gee, Amy, after all the high-sounding things I saw that you folks would write first in a new notebook, it seems almost mundane that the first thing I’d write in mine is something along the lines of: “This notebook belongs to Robert Hruzek; better give it back!”

    (Sorry; couldn’t resist!) 😀

  10. opengroveclaudia replied:

    Nothing makes me happier than a new notebook. I use ones just like what you have pictured. The first thing I write is the date – so I know when I started. I have a lot of these books! 🙂

  11. Paula Schramm replied:

    Oh, noes that book is much too thick, it would completly stifle my atempts to write a “first” thing in it. I am going to be carrying it around for a few month after all!

    I prefer the paper covered, thinner books from Moleskin and like to write notes on a seminar onto the first page.

    I love the smooth yellow moleskinpaper and the way the pen glides over it leaving neat littel traces. It is the first entry after all 😉

  12. Nick Cernis replied:

    Who knew you could paint with words? What a powerful picture you conjured.

    As for the dreaded first page — I normally do something fun. My last notebook has the words “On this page of ghostly white, it looked so good I took a bite!” written in the corner, together with some teeth marks I cut out of the page. 😀

  13. Lodewijk replied:

    The first page of my notebooks usually aren’t white anymore. They say:

    In case of loss, please return to:
    As a reward: $ _____________________________

    I just fill it in 🙂

    But the first white page after that one…is left white. The first two pages have something sacred about them. There should be something really insightful, important, inspiring or funny there (like Nick’s suggestion). I usually write on them, when I’m halfway through the notebook.

    Silly habits. 🙂

  14. Teacher Girl replied:

    i absolutely love a new moleskin journal and i am about to begin a new one as well. 🙂

    my first page is always the same. my name. first and last. a little rectangular box around my name.

    i wonder what that says about my personality?

    thanks for this post, amy!

  15. wendikelly replied:

    Oh, I am due for a new one in a few weeks.
    The first thing I do?
    Just sit and breathe in the aroma. Then write whatever the muse sends.

    I LOVE new journals. I love the smell of leather, or soft materials. Each one of mine are different and they take up rows and rows on my shelves. For decades. Ahhhh.

  16. Ellen replied:

    I have small little books that find themselves in various nooks and crannies around my house. Honestly, Amy, I just jot notes down on ideas, projects, payments, etc. I haven’t wrote anything on paper for awhile. Maybe I will get back into it.

  17. cybill replied:

    I just write my name and the date, but for the first few pages of a new notebook I always have to use the best pen I can find.

  18. toni replied:

    Oooh new notebooks are love. I get so excited when I see fresh, crisp pages. On the first page I’d probably write my name in script and make a little cartoon.

  19. amypalko replied:

    Don’t you find though, Ksaasmith, that it’s often while we’re doodling, sketching and randomly writing that we come up with our big ideas and our grand schemes?

    I know what you mean, Captain Stardust. It wasn’t what I set out to write at all! It was like she was just here waiting in the ink of my pen…

    I do love the first page of a new notebook, Karen. And yes, of course, just as soon as I know, I’ll pass it on 🙂

    Ah yes, Nicola, those great intentions of being a well-organized student! I have them too. Now, where did I put them…

    Thank you, Brett! I so enjoy writing like this. It’s moving on from the picture & making my characters move that I have problems!

    I think you do have to be a bit of an anarchist when faced with that 1st page, don’t you, Daz?

    Not mundane at all, Robert. I bit like yourself, in fact: smart, funny and a little bit cheeky 😉

    Ah yes, Claudia, the date! I knew I forgot something.

    Well, Paula, as a committed maximalist, all my notebooks are the kind with lots of pages. All that space for all my big ideas 🙂

    Oh, I love that, Nick! Trust you to come up with that 😉

    That sounds like a good habit to have, Lodewijk. That way those first few pages stay special, don’t they?

    Oh, I’m so glad we’re starting a new one at the same time, Teacher Girl. I think you should try breaking out of the box this time, though 😉

    There is just something so wonderfully tactile about journals, isn’t there, Wendikelly? An electronic interface just can’t compare!

    I find writing on paper quite a different experience from writing on my computer, Ellen. There seems to be a stronger connection between me and the words on the page when they’re written in my handwriting.

    Oh, yes, a good pen is essential, isn’t it, Cybil?

    I’m afraid drawing is not one of my talents, Toni, so no cartoons for me. I love the idea of it though. I just lack the skills for execution!

  20. David replied:

    I love new notebooks so much that I buy the thinner moleskine books in three packs – that way you get three times to start afresh 🙂

  21. Sandie replied:

    I am so glad to hear I’m not the only one with apprehension about the first page of my notebooks. I usually leave the first page or two blank. Like Lodewijk, I want something really inspirational to go there. Of course, the pages usually stay blank…but that’s ok.

  22. Nicholas replied:

    A new, fresh, untouched notebook is downright exciting! So is a ream of clean white paper. I used to get the feeling every time I started a new volume of my journal: Just think! Every page of this notebook will be filled with accounts of things I do and say, and people I meet along the way. I wonder what they will be.

  23. amypalko replied:

    I love that, David! Starting fresh 3 times over 🙂

    I so understand that tentative feeling of putting pen to paper on those first few pages, Sandie. You are most certainly not alone!

    It such an exciting feeling, isn’t it, Nicholas? Infinite possibility always is 🙂

  24. Shai Coggins replied:

    I love new notebooks. So much that I like making ’em too. 🙂

    The first page is usually reserved for some kind of “title page”. I sometimes just write basic stuff (title, date started, my name, contact info)… Sometimes, I go overboard and draw/doodle/paint/collage on them.

    Maybe one of these days I’ll share first pages of my notebooks.

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