Help Finding a Good Roughwork Holder

In a change from my usual posts about something that interested me or that might help someone, I have decided to ask my audience for help.

As some of you might already know up until now I have used a cheap notebook that I fitted in my trouser pocket to capture the stray interesting ideas that scuttle through my thoughts. However – despite many months of successfully transferring it from one pair of trousers to another – I managed to forget last Thursday and not only wash but dry it. My thoughts are now encased like a fossil, awaiting patient excavation.

I also need to replace my note capturing apparatus. As I have found Agile methodology a good way to focus a need rather than the current method, I have phrased this need in the form of a user story:

As a Writer, I need to be able to take notes wherever I am

This article contains suggestions for good notebooks, many of which would look and feel great and (in the superb event I become a renowned writer) give devoted fans something at which to marvel. However, they seemed to be either unwieldy or like a notebook for keeping thoughts to treasure rather than scrawling raw ideas to stop them running back into the depths of my unconscious.

I already have paper mache so am halfway to trying this.
bacondogCC BY 2.0)

My initial brainstorming has broken the story down into the following criteria:

  • Many of my ideas come to me while I am doing something else (walking to the shops, vacuuming, &c.) and not when I am conveniently near my desk, so it needs to be easily portable. As I do not carry a bag everywhere (particularly when in the house) this could limit it to pocket-size.
  • Often conditions are not ideal (rain, hands covered in washing up liquid, &c.) so it needs to be something that is environment proof or I do not regard as too precious in itself.
  • I sometimes have cats sit on me for several hours at a time so anything that goes in a pocket will need to stay comfortable after several hours of being pressed into me.
  • I do not use a mobile phone or laptop.

As the Agile method thrives on feedback, there might be other criteria that have not sprung to mind or undiscovered assumptions that open up possibilities. So any ideas, even really odd ones, could help.

Do you have any suggestions? What – if anything – do you use to catch the stray ideas?


4 thoughts on “Help Finding a Good Roughwork Holder

  1. I used to buy a new type of notebook every time I filled one up, but they all have two things in common: a leather cover (fake leather for the earlier ones since I was limited on funds) and a way to clasp it shut. Since I couldn’t fit the notebook in a pocket and usually didn’t carry a bag, I would keep scraps of paper and old receipts in my wallet to write on. I’d stick them in my notebook later and the clasp/tie made sure nothing fell out. A friend bought me a nice little notebook from Barnes and Noble as a gift, and I’ve just been using that particular kind ever since. (You can see it on their website:×6/12601725?ean=9780830099184) It’s small enough to fit in my coat pocket, it’s durable, and I haven’t had a problem with ink bleeding through the parchment paper inside. It also has exactly enough room for a pen under the flap.


    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

      I had not thought of taking transitory notes then adding them to something more permanent later.

      The journal does look functional; however I would be strongly tempted to save something that beautiful for important thoughts rather than mad scrawls.


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