The sun goes down at 8:05 tonight, there’s a waxing crescent moon, and the blessed cool edge of autumn is in the air. Today I learned that Cheez-Its were invented in Ohio. There’s magic here. There’s also magic in a fresh notebook.

The first thing I do with a new notebook is write something stupid and messy on the first page. This helps cure any notion that it might be precious. For years I believed the right notebook would solve all my problems. I explored blank pages, dots, and grids. I fooled with modular systems. I invested in artisanal, shade-grown leather journals. In the end, I’ve settled on these Muji notebooks. They’re five bucks a pop, the pages are nicely coated, and they lie flat, which seems to aid my left-handedness. And they can take a beating. They heroically suffer rain and sploshed coffee. They get jammed in my back pocket, I fall asleep on them, and sometimes I use them to kill bugs. Pen-wise, I remain committed to black 0.4mm Zebra Sarasa pens.

I’ve been relying more on these tools lately, drafting my stories with pen and paper before punching them into a machine. I think differently when I’m not locked into a staring contest with a screen. Maybe because my writing doesn’t look like the final product yet, I’m more willing to make mistakes.

(Inspired by Warren Ellis’s recent note about notebooks.)