Curing a Notebook Addiction

I have a problem with notebooks. Like – can’t go near the office supply store without buying a stack – kind of problem. Oh – and gel pens, too. Like a table-scrap addicted puppy at dinnertime, whenever I see a hint of office supplies any sense of dignity is out the door.

New notebooks have always held a special kind of reverence in my mind. So many untapped ideas just waiting to be scribbled down like creative inky fireworks. I’ve got piles and piles of unused notebooks next to my piles and piles of filled notebooks. It’s an addiction.

I’ve always enjoyed new notebooks, except for my experiment with a large moleskine. I tried, really hard, to write in it. I just couldn’t bring myself to write in it. I gave that one away to a friend and bought a little one, and wrote in big large letters on the first page: “IT IS OKAY TO WRITE IN THIS BOOK“. That worked, though I still feel a little guilty writing in it if the idea isn’t brilliant.

My life-long fascination with notebooks has left me with a problem, though – none of my handwritten notes are searchable. I don’t know which notebook my idea is in. And for someone who loves computers as much as I do, this creates a real issue. I’ve often stalled personal projects trying to figure out if I should start it in paper or with digital means.

Penultimate on the iPadI think I finally found the happy medium. At FreelanceCamp, I was surrounded by iPads. If you’re not a technophile, you might not understand that this was akin to a Budweiser truck pulling up at an AA meeting. My wallet was out so fast it made a sonic boom on the way to Best Buy.

iPad procured, I downloaded a nifty app called Penultimate and bought a Pogo stylus. It behaves like a notebook – and with the touch of a button (not the swipe of a credit card), you can add a new notebook to your collection. There’s all sorts of different inks, colors, sizes and you can even change the style of the notebook paper from lined to grid or blank. With the Stylus, you can actually write normally – just like a pen.

You can draw, you can write, you can erase and undo. And then you can export single pages or entire notebooks as PDFs.

Now here’s the cool part: email those PDFs to your Evernote Pro account. If your handwriting is nice, your note will be searchable. Even if your handwriting is atrocious like mine, you can tag the note or even jot in a few keywords in the email before you send it.

Ideas. Collected, organized. Ready to be presented. #Win.