The First Page of a New Notebook

Packing for our recent road trip vacation, I grabbed a blank Field Notes notebook and tossed it into my backpack. I had only halfway filled my current Field Notes notebook, but I tend to jot down a lot more random stuff on the road than when I am at home and I don’t want to be without a spare.

There is something so pleasant about a new notebook. It is pristine, clean. By the time I fill a notebook, it looks well-worn, and I like that look. But there is something so appealing about a brand new notebook. I put it in the same category as freshly mown lawns, and new haircuts.

Flipping through a bunch of my old Field Notes notebooks, I noticed a trend: the first page of the notebook is always much neater than the pages that follow. I’d never noticed this before, but it’s true. It is as if I want to maintain the pristine quality of the pages by writing as neatly as I can on that first page. After the first page, things go rapidly downhill. Especially when I am on trips–in the field, so to speak. I often jot things down while I am walking, which is not an easy task.

messy page from field notes notebook
A messy page from my current notebook, with scribblings from our time at Niagara Falls

This phenomenon seems to hold true regardless of the type of notebook I am using. When I start a new Moleskine Art Collection notebook for my journal, I love the clean look of the notebook, and always write extra-neatly on that first page. The phenomenon carries through to the Leuchtterm 1917 notebooks that I have as well. (I keep my master reading list in one of these notebooks, and this is the one exception to the above rule: all the pages in this notebook are usually neat.)

In the past, I’ve mentioned how the final pages of a notebook are often blank. I suspect this is in part because I am eagerly awaiting the new notebook, and the chance to write neatly, at least on one page. Indeed, just knowing that I have a blank notebook sitting in my backpack is a temptation. But it is one that I try to live with stoically. After all, I’d rather have a blank notebook waiting to be used than no notebook at all.

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