Writer’s Toolkit Quiz: What Kind Of Notebook are You?


A while ago I wrote an article about why every writer needs a notebook, but I didn’t even attempt describing the epic pilgrimage of the selection process.

Think of it as being sorted for a wand at Ollivander’s. You wander into the journal section of Barnes and Noble or Powell’s and there they are: the tempting leather handmades, the flamboyant PaperBlanks, the understated Moleskins, the humble 5-Star spirals.

But how on earth is a novelist (or poet/blogger/nonfictioneur) to know which one to pick? You’re in luck! This handy quiz is all you need. Get your results and then scroll down for more details on your notebook.

Before you begin, here are some universal dos and don’t for your quest:


…buy anything with “Journal” or “Diary” on the front. First it’s inaccurate, and second, if you use your notebook often (as you should!) then it will be awkward to write in public. Unless you want to constantly explain to nosy onlookers that you’re making art, not obsessed with your feelings, steer clear of these titles.

…ignore the binding. That twine lacing up the spine may look cute now, but it’ll be a pain when it breaks, or is too tight to keep the book open. Also, no pretty notebook is worth cheap glue or plastic spiral binding. Your heavy messenger bag will rip that apart before you can say Emily Dickinson. Some hardback covers will also slip off of spiral notebooks, though this can be fixed by dotting the spiral tips with hot glue.

…buy a lined notebook that’s not college-ruled. Maybe this is just a quirk of mine, but I can’t stand wide-ruled lines. I feel like I have to write bigger…and I feel like I’m five. Enough said.


…Buy the notebook in person. I’m the empress of online shopping, but this is one purchase you need to hold in your hands. Notebooks are a long-term relationship, and often you won’t feel justified starting a new one until you’ve filled up the last one. Make sure you’re enthralled before coughing up the money!

…Make sure the design is inspiring, something that will encourage you to write. Do be realistic… there will be days where you won’t feel like picking up your notebook even if it shows Richard Armitage covered in clotted cream and strawberries. But still, a dreary cover won’t get you anywhere…

…Check to see if it has a storage pocket in the front or back. This isn’t mandatory, but it’s helpful to store scraps of inspiration that didn’t quite make into the notebook, or even pages from a computer draft that you’re continuing on paper.

…Smell that sucker. I don’t care who’s watching. You’re a writer: embrace the bounty of your geekdom. Sometimes everything will seem right, then you give the book that last conscientious sniff and—ugh. Sour processed paper and glue. Then another book will waft sweet handmade leather, fresh ink, or that faint milky paper scent. Think of it as being fitted with the perfect core for your Ollivander wand. That’s what I said— find your Elder Notebook.

Now for what you’ve been waiting for—the quiz! Have fun, and if you like, post your results in the comments!

To view this quiz you need to have Flash Player 9 or newer installed and JavaScript enabled.

Option 1:

How to Recognize a Victorian Diarist Notebook:

Interior: Lined

Exterior: Hardback, elaborate design

Size: Medium to Large

Suggested brand(s): Paperblanks (Good gravy I love these people. They are freaking geniuses. If I have any secret admirers out there, keep in mind I’d rather have a box of Paperblanks than flowers and chocolate any day…)

Option 2

How to Recognize a Starving Artist’s Notebook:

Interior: Lined or Unlined

Exterior: Paperback, cardboard, plastic; solid colors or simple prints

Size: Any

Suggested brand(s): 5-Star, general composition notebooks, various school/office supply/book stores. (These are usually inexpensive, so you can get away with buying more than one. Though if you’re a Starving Artist, you may want to save that extra 6 bucks towards rent or Ramen Noodles.)

Option 3

How to Recognize a Fantasy Novelist’s Tome:

Interior: Lined or Unlined, preferably the latter so you can make sketches, maps, etc.

Exterior: Hardback or Leather

Size: Medium or Large

Suggested brand(s): Paperblanks, Etsy, various book store selections. (Note that these will often be an investment, budget at 30 dollars at least. I’ve always found impressive Fantasy Tomes at Barnes and Noble, though this is one case where it’s okay to break the no-online-shopping rule. Etsy has some incredible specimens!)

Option 4

How to Recognize a Minimalist Draft Book:

Interior: Unlined

Exterior: Hardback or Leather

Size: Medium to Large

Suggested brand(s): Moleskine. (I’ve never been Minimalist enough to shell out for a real Moleskine, but from what I’ve seen these are really quality products. Prices range from 10 to 25 dollars.)

Option 5

How to Recognize a Scribbler:

Interior: Lined or Unlined

Exterior: Any- hardback, paper, colorful, solid, etc.

Size: Small, pocket size

Suggested brand(s): Paperblanks, Moleskine, Etsy, various book store selections. (The more the merrier!)

So now you know, and happy shopping! I’d love to hear about your results below (and pictures of your findings!).

New posts on jordanifueko.com every Friday!

4 Replies to “Writer’s Toolkit Quiz: What Kind Of Notebook are You?”

  1. Starving artist’s notebook for the win!!!! That is so funny :) I don’t think that it is my imagined ideal, but when I look back over all my notebooks, I totally write in whatever is at hand!

  2. “Smell that sucker!”
    Best. Line. Ever!!!

    So unfortunately my phone isn’t flash player compatible so I’ll have to take the test later. But as I scrolled through the different available results I totally spotted my notebook in one of the images.

    I’m the minimalist? That can’t be right. Well maybe…. I will never give up my moleskins. They are totally worth the money. Strong and waterproof exteriors and usually a lot more pages. And I know my notebooks will last the next two hundred years. ;)

    1. Every writer’s dream – the notebook that lasts 200 years and is rediscovered by survivors of the zombie apocalypse, for whom it is a miracle of literature…

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