The Notebook Continues…..

Someone asked me about how I use these books. I know I recently did a post in regard to using one of these books when I’m doing a long-term project, but I also use them on a daily basis for the mess that is the rest of my life. In fact, I would be completely and uttering lost without these books. In short, I put everything in them. Everything. These current books are Blurb, Daniel, life, work, play, thoughts,etc. As you can see by these images, my books are not about art. I have friends who make journals that are truly objects to behold. My books are not like that. My books are basic nuts and bolts of life, rife with things like to-do lists, photographs from current projects and articles and stories that get forwarded my way. The PRIMARY importance of my book is the actual writing. You will see that I have typed sections, which I have begun to do because I am on the computer SO MUCH these days. Couple this with the fact my handwriting is truly some of the worst I have ever encountered and you will know why I am using the computer. Another question I get is whether or not I reference these books at a later date, and my response is “absolutely.” I use them on a regular basis. I can’t go into the details but these books have been CRITICAL with certain projects in the past. But there is a secret to success with these books, at least in my opinion. The secret is to write in these books as if no one will ever see it. You can’t hold back. If you hold back and are afraid to really write what you think, there is no point in even keeping a notebook, journal, diary or whatever you want to call it. Writing without holding back is a therapy for me. I’ve never been to therapy but I would imagine it’s a lot like what I do when I sit down, pen in hand, trying to clear my head or make sense of what is happening in my life. The pace of life today is as fast as I’ve ever experienced, which makes writing in these books that much more difficult and consequently that much more important. My suggestion, give it a try. Don’t think about anyone else, just get a cheap book, a pencil and start with whatever thought first enters you mind. From there, it’s all downhill.

20 responses to “The Notebook Continues…..”

  1. Sean says:

    Based partially on your advice and on a great book called the Artist’s Way, when I wake up every morning the first thing I do is sit down and write two pages of whatever comes to mind in my “Morning Pages” just to clear my head. I can’t recommend it enough. I never go back and read what I’ve written but I swear it makes life run a lot smoother and I get more things done. Highly recommended.

    Thanks to your previous video I also have an array of notebooks that up until recently I was struggling to categorize. Lists, thoughts, photos, projects, ideas… everything goes into them. But then one day I decided to arrange them by date and nicknamed them “Life”. Everything’s been rosy ever since.

    • Smogranch says:


      That is a great idea. “The Morning Pages.” I have fallen into the get up, make coffee and head to my laptop scenario. I have so many balls in the air now that those early morning hours are a way to “get ahead” but I know that is a total joke. I know I can probably never get ahead, but the fantasy lives on. What I should do is what you are doing. My wife and I were talking about when we first met, back around 1996. Neither of us had computers, or cell phones. We would get up, eat breakfast together…..actually talk to one another……..then go to work. It was civil. I still remember listening to the birds outside our apartment. I remember having time for thought, which now seems like a total joke, sadly.
      Yesterday, one of my photo mentors suggested to me that I slow down…….but it’s not in the cards at the moment.

  2. Randy says:

    Daniel, to sum it all up, yup!
    Writing or therapy helps us be with ourself, in the present moment. It helps us see where we are, rather than where we’ve been or where we’re going. To an extent those past or future things do not exist. We are simply here, now. So by writing, or bike riding for example, these activites bring us back to the now.
    Great post Daniel!
    Take care

  3. lionelb says:

    Daniel, thank you for being so indulgent with me.
    So these are a Journal, in the Victorian sense. ‘Notebook’ does them down. They are much more than I had expected. My thoughts are immediately about how to print images and notes on extremely thin,translucent paper, pasting them in using egg white as glue. Or maybe iron-on transfers …

  4. Charlene says:

    I’ve been a rabid journal/diary keeper since I was a young child. I too have found that it helps resolve the random mess of my life in an indirect, unconscious sort of way. And it gives me a good excuse to indulge my strange love of the act of writing itself (I’ve been tossing around an idea for a project called “hypergraphia” for a while but haven’t figured out how to approach it yet). It’s a cheap and therapeutic form of, well, therapy 😉

    • Smogranch says:


      As I get close to the end of a journal I find myself dreaming of the next one. What will it be? What size? What pen will I use? I guess I am a gear head after all.

  5. toby says:

    that’s good stuff.

  6. Great to see such a pure vision…

  7. I like Randy’s comment. I have stacks and stacks of notebooks/journals from the past years of traveling. Writing is sometimes as important as breathing. It is a way to make sense of the world for me. It is my closest travel friend. I can talk to myself and do it, but get bored easily and distracted. Writing works, keeps me sane, I can re-order the mess of my brain and function a bit longer.

  8. Paul Joyce says:

    Notebooks are a great idea and its something I must start (as well as creating Blurb books in my newly upgraded Lightroom 4).

    Do you always use the same size notebook? There is so many sizes/styles/quality out there!

    I love the idea of making small prints from say a mobile and putting them up the book. Do you make the small prints yourself at home or get them done at lab somewhere?

    Just wondering.

    • Smogranch says:

      No, I use a range of books, everything from Moleskin small, medium and large books, to yearly planners to handmade books to the Blurb notebooks. I use a lab to make the prints. Printing at home is so expensive and time consuming in comparison that it just doesnt’ make sense to me anymore, unless you are doing certain types of large, museum prints, and even now with the lab prices, even that is perhaps not the best solution anymore. Times have changed…..Plus, many of the prints I see people make at home start to fade in a short period of time. With the lab I’m getting photographic prints.

  9. Nancy Van House says:

    How do you combine handwriting and types notes, though? From your post, it sounds like you do. I used to keep a journal (notebook) and, as you say, the choice of a new notebook was a major joy. And pen. But now — I type so much on one computer or another, AND I need to *write* (by hand) — plus I need to see what I’ve done, in context, so that means printing…But to add a step to print and somehow insert computer text…and photo prints? More details, please!

    • Smogranch says:


      I just use my laptop and word, then print them out, trim them and paste them in. I typically use a Moleskin journal, different sizes actually. My handwriting is HORRIBLE.

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