There’s something about holding a pen on the paper, and letting your hand go. More often than not you will find yourself amazed with what comes out when you read back all that you’ve thrown onto that sheet of paper. And if you are like me, then you know that there’s absolutely no substitute that exists for problem solving, thought processing, and that plain old scribbly ejaculations from your limbic system. Thusly, Notebooks! They effing rock! Call me old fashioned, and plain senile but I love the feel of a notebook. The whole process of sitting down with a pen, or a pencil, and a physical notebook is something that I cherish.
The Most Powerful, And Invaluable Tool You Could Ever Own.
“All You have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” - Ernest Hemingway.
I love writing, and ergo notebooks. The past eight months alone have seen me use 12 notebooks (currently on the 13th one). All twelve of them are filled with random thoughts, ideas, plans of action, sketches, poems, verses, doodles, goals, milestones, and off course verbal vomit. It wasn’t always like that. Yes, I did use notebooks but I never used them up like I do now. That only started when I started publishing every day, here on this blog. Which in turn, and very much like the inspiration behind Daily Write, only started with the discovery of Desk, and the Desk community.
And soon after discovering Desk, I would also discover that buying the local brand of notebooks would turn out to be an expensive ordeal. Not to mention the serious lack of quality, noticeable if you use a gel pen, or an ink pen. This in turn led me to scour the internet for something that wouldn’t be as expensive, something that would be durable, and something that would be easier to carry around for whenever those monkey like “aha moments” struck. Anything beyond, and above those three requirements was a big plus.
Field Notes Love
My first search, unconsciously, led me to this post by John , the Developer behind Desk (which as mentioned above was the turning point, and the primary reason for my notebook hunt). Call it a chronic gambler’s fate, or whatever. That single post by John, led me to love a brand as much as I love Desk - enter Field Notes . In fact, My love of Field Notes greatly out spaces my love of Desk.
Moleskine Vs. Field Notes
From my perspective, here’s the whats, and whys:
- Moleskine is more expensive compared to Field Notes. Both are not available locally here in India (there’s Moleskine available here, but it seems that it costs more than getting it shipped from their Hong Kong shop). A single Moleskine (the most affordable one - VOLANT JOURNAL) on sale, costs around 460 INR plus shipping. If I add about 50-80 INR to that, I get three limited edition notebooks by Field Notes Brand, and an awesome pencil to boot! There’s absolutely no other choice here.
- Recent discovery this - Field Notes is By Aaron Draplin . Someone I’ve come to admire this year. That’s definitely another plus point for Field Notes!
- The entire idea, and story of Field Notes appeals to me (Check out the story behind field notes in the videos below).
- As compared to Moleskin, I think Moleskine is more …professional league? Field Notes on the other hand, feels more personal. Field Notes, as Draplin says it, is for the small leaguers. Which is another reason I love it.
- You have choices with different colours, their limited editions, etc. with respect to Field Notes, but their size almost always remains the same. Moleskine on the other hand has tons of more expensive choices, and the limited editions are awesome but expensive. And let’s be pragmatic here, I did like to just own a notebook to write something in. Purely utilitarian - something that’s not expensive, is durable, and is small enough for me to carry anywhere.
- The limited editions Field Notes cost the same, unlike Moleskin.
- I am biased towards Field Notes for some reason. Sue me.
Story Behind Field Notes
Field Notes Brand is the brain child of Aaron Draplin. The first Field Note ever to roll off the press was back in 1998. Here’s a post from Draplin, from 1998.
Instead of me typing the history, and idea behind Field Notes, I have embedded two videos below. Both are short, and worth the watch.
The Field Notes Story: Aaron Draplin Explains
Field Notes Brand: From Seed
Alternatives To Field Notes On My List To Try
So far, I’ve only found three alternatives for notebooks by Field Notes Brand. Two of these alternatives fit perfectly with my criteria for buying notebooks. The last alternative was more of a weak knee moment for me.
Alternative 1 - Notebooks by Scout Books:
A very similar approach to notebooks, as compared to Field Notes. The have some awesome notebook sets on sale currently. Most on sale cost $5 USD for a pack of 3 at the time of writing this post. For a pack of 3, notebooks that are not on sale cost ~$9.99USD. That’s the same as Field Notes. The size of Scout Books Notebooks is almost the same as what Field Notes Brand uses. They have a wide variety of choices. The best notebooks are the illustrated ones. They cost almost the same as the rest of the notebooks, but are so very colourful. Scout Books Notebooks are definitely on my list.
Alternative 2 - Notebooks by Word.
Absolutely great looking notebooks. Almost the same size as Field Notes. I love some of their geometric designs. Back to the pragmatism I mention above, 3 packs cost the same as Field Notes. What I love about Word notebooks, is that they have this BYOB 10-Pack for $25 USD, and that’s a bloody steal if there’s any! That’s even cheaper than Field Notes notebooks. That’s precisely why I’ve ordered a pack of 10. Definitely would recommend this to any other pragmatic, note taking souls out there.
Alternative 3 - The Bright Log.
The Bright Log is for those times when you give in to your vanity. It’s okay, happens to all us including utilitarians like you, and I. This alternative is more India, and specifically Mumbai centered option. I always wondered what would my sketch look like on a notebook. I also wondered, what would my sketches look like done by someone else. I was lucky enough to bump into people that own this custom notebook making business here, and was able to find out exactly what one of my sketches looked like done by someone else along with having one of my sketches (or the idea of one) on a notebook. At the time of my order, the custom notebook set me back by around ~$10 USD. Which I think is fair enough, compared to Field Notes because I got a bigger notebook which has more pages for all those word heavy days.
My shiny new notebook by The Bright Log. That sketch is an interpretation of a sketch of mine by a different artist. The original is embedded below.
Get Field Notes
Planning to buy a notebook? How about a set of 3? I assure you, Field Notes won’t disappoint. It's affordable, durable, and get's the job done. .