Notebooks are my tool of choice as a writer.

I usually have three, sometimes four, going at once.

There’s the notebook I keep on my desk, next to my laptop. It contains notes and to-do lists — short ones, because long to-do lists fill me with anxiety. I like a list with two or three items and not a lot of urgency.

If something is urgent, it doesn’t go on the to-do list, because seeing it there every day will make me anxious. Urgent things just need to get done. Like, now. Right?

The notebook on my art table is my moodling notebook. I grab it when I need to think about a project, when I need to brainstorm, when I want to work out the flow of a piece of writing before I sit down at the keyboard.

Sometimes if I get deep enough into a project, it’ll get its own notebook. The café had its own notebook for the first several months, while it was incarnating, and we had a lot to discuss.

When I work on fiction, it tends to begin in the moodling book, and then it graduates to its own notebook, where it might live for a long time before getting a document file on the laptop. Sometimes it never gets a document file. I’m thinking of a particular piece of fiction that has lived for years in its spiral notebook, comfortable there, like a crone in a cottage. It doesn’t want to be digitized.

Poetry, on the other hand, is always composed at the keyboard. It never gets a notebook.

Finally, there’s my Morning Pages notebook. That’s the one I write in every day, and have for 20 years. I don’t always do the recommended three pages. Sometimes there’s only time for a page and a half before I have to go to work. But the daily part, that’s sacrosanct. Except for that one time when I didn’t write anything longer than my name for weeks and weeks. That’s when I was in the Upside Down. Or something.

Morning Pages are the notebooks I burned a few years ago, when turning everything to ash made a certain sense. Somewhere in the garage is the crate of spiral bindings I pulled all the pages from before throwing them onto the bonfire.

I’ve since switched to comp books. Perhaps anticipating a more thorough burn next time.