Do you write in a paper journal?
Do you have strong opinions about what kind of book you use to write on paper?
Feel free to tell me about anything else related to writing or sketching "longhand." I'm not talking about lovely flowing prose compositions -- well, okay, I am, but I'm not limiting it to that. If you jot down working notes in a lab notebook, that's of interest, too, especially if you "think on paper."
As for me, I've been keeping a journal since February of 1997, when I started a creative writing class in college. It was the best thing to come out of that class for me: the professor was more of a cheerleader than a critic, and I needed a cheerleader at the time. (I should note that she was plenty critical of people who weren't serious about writing, but that's not the same thing.) But I started making notes to myself about stories, going off on tangents, and that way, as sort of a writing log and sort of a talisman and sort of a free zone, it worked for me. I'd never had any success at keeping a diary, because while I can write about my daily life, it varies for the audience, and frankly, I was not sure I wanted to leave written records of all the interesting bits.
So there's a lot that's between the lines in my journals. I will have two title ideas and a first line jotted down, then a two or three day gap, then a note of what I was reading, and maybe a line that things were pretty dire. Reckoning from the data I have about the time frame, I can figure out why they were dire and in what way and with whom, but an external reader couldn't tell whether I meant that my physics homework was particularly grim or whether I feared for one of my friends' sanity or something in the middle. (The marriage of the two -- fearing for a friend's sanity due to grim physics homework -- is not uncommon but also not likely to make the journal.) Every once in awhile I think I should give up my paper journals completely, but I never do. Every once in awhile, I think I should write more in them deliberately, and sometimes I do. The problem is that the brain has been trained. I can no longer freewrite without developing story ideas. If I let my pen wander and leave the monkey brain out of it, very soon I'm either neck deep in a scene of fiction, or else I'm outlining something. Sometimes this is useful, but sometimes not, really, and I've decided not to push it. When it's useful, hurrah; when it's not, oh well. There are other ways to bash my brain to knock things loose.
I finished a paper journal just before I left for England, and I still have to sort through it to get notes on various projects pulled out and put into useful files before I shelve the thing. It was the last of my 8 1/2" x 11" journals for awhile, I think: when I was writing entire novels in these, I needed that space or the scenes would be even more underwritten than my drafts usually are (writers are fruitbats, I know), but that's not a viable mode for my back or my brain now that I have other options, and porphyrin gave me one that's soft, small, blue. Ista keeps trying to chew on the attached bookmark, but this is not the worst problem that ever a paper journal has had.