Moleskine notebooks are hot and keep getting hotter. What’s cool about these simple black notebooks is how versatile they are. And every time we turn around there are new versions of Moleskines popping up that expand the imagination even further. There is probably no way to capture all of the possible uses for this historically significant design, but it’s worth identifying as many as we can. After all, even if you can resist buying this irresistibly cute and functional notebook, you’ll still need to know how to use the ten Moleskines you receive for your next birthday!
Using a Moleskine as a notebook for writing is just one of those “duh” things. Of course you’ll use it for writing, that’s what these “legendary” notebooks were designed for. Chatwin was a writer who used Moleskines for writing for the same reasons the design was so popular with writers like Ernest Hemingway, Jean Paul Sartre, and Gertrude Stein who came before him. It is a design that is simple, elegant, and eminently practical for its intended use. So go ahead, write in your Moleskine – but what will you write?
Diary – Everyone should keep a diary or a journal. Whether you write a few short sentences each day, like my father, or write several pages on a semi-regular basis like me, you’ll find a Moleskine notebook that suits your needs. When my grandfather’s house burned down so many years ago, there were a few obvious things like photographs that we were sorry to lose. The simple diaries he kept that had settled so many debates about what happened when, and who was there at the time, was one of the biggest losses. There are so few letters sent and saved any longer to provide windows into everyday lives of everyday people; diaries are a great way fill that gap for future generations as much as they are wonderful ways to reminisce and provide a window into past perspectives even as we continue to grow.
Novel – You know you want to write a book; it doesn’t even have to be fiction. When you do, keep your notes in a Moleskine. You’ll feel like a “real” writer and you’ll look like one too! Even better, you’ll have a portable way to capture all of your ideas, plot-lines, and characters and you won’t even need a wi-fi hotspot or electricity. As an added bonus, Moleskines are way smaller and lighter than laptops.
Children’s Book – Well-written children’s books require every bit the same level of organization as adult’s books. Think through your layouts and story arcs with one of the storyboard Moleskine notebooks.
Love Letters – Whether you’re writing to your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, sibling(s), parents, or children, how about keeping the notes you send to each other all in one place, where you can read them over and over? Perhaps one of you gets the even pages of the Moleskine and the other gets the odd pages, or perhaps one starts at the front while the other starts at the back until you both meet up somewhere in the middle. Or maybe you just trade off; whatever works for you, your Moleskine will be a sturdy companion that will last at least as long as your feelings for each other.
Travel Journal – You’re spending money on a trip and probably even taking photographs. Wouldn’t it be nice to really remember the best details of your travels? You don’t have to be a travel writer to enjoy reading about your exploits later. You just need a notebook that can stand up to the abuse of being constantly on the move. A Moleskine is just the ticket. And with the Travel Info and the new City Notebooks, the possibilities are even greater than ever before for capturing your thoughts and impressions of every aspect of your travels.
Writers don’t have a lock on Moleskine notebooks. Visual artists love them too. In addition to the lined pages used so commonly by writers, artists can choose Moleskines with grid lines, plain pages, storyboard layouts or watercolor paper. Let your imagination run truly wild.
Sketchbook – Although there are Moleskin notebooks with heavier paper especially for sketching, let your drawings show up in other places too. Perhaps you’ll start just by adding a few doodles to your writing in a Moleskine notebook or making a few lines in a storyboard box or two. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, find a pencil, ink pen or paint that lets you begin to express the images or colors that you have in your mind as well as the words.
Watercolor Notebook – Now that Moleskine makes notebooks with watercolor paper, it really deserves to be a category all its own. Leave your creations in the book or detach them for display. Either way, you’ll love the the convenience and portability of the Moleskine that recognizes artists have loved the design every bit as much as writers have.
Photo Album – If photographs are your visual medium of choice, consider putting them into a Moleskine notebook where they can be shared instead of locking them away in some digital prison. Give yourself space to write captions or full stories about each image if you wish. Make it a work of art that really describes the thoughts, feelings and experiences you wanted to capture with your camera.
Scrapbook – If you’re like me and tend to hang onto ticket stubs, maps, brochures and other promotional materials, consider saving these bits and scraps in a Moleskine notebook and use them to bring your memories to life. Whether you make collages of your artifactsw, use them to adorn your writing, jot notes to describe the importance of these mementos, or simply paste them individually into your notebooks without further explanation, they’ll be much more enjoyable as part of a body of work that can be pored over later than they will be littering the bottom of some drawer. The back pocket of the Moleskine notebooks makes collection easy and as soon as you paste the contents into your pages, you’ll have room in the pocket for more treasures.
Movie Shots – You might not be thinking feature length film just yet. What about a brief stop-action film or flip-book that you make with your kids though, or a video of some family event or an interview with a family elder? The Moleskine Story Board Notebook makes it much easier to plan your shots and edits. You’ll have more fun and come out looking like a pro.
Some of the best songwriting comes from simple exposure to life, and life is often what happens when you’re doing other things. Keep a Moleskine notebook handy so you can capture whatever inspirations occur in the moment no matter what else might be going on.
Lyrics – Sometimes bits of lyrics insist on being written down at the strangest times; sometimes, like dreams, they can evaporate if we wait too long to capture them. Keeping a Moleskine around means you don’t have to hope there’s a dry napkin handy. And, if you ever become famous and your work is displayed in some museum someday, it will be every bit as romantic in a Moleskine as on that paper napkin, and a hundred times more durable .
Musical Notation – If you’re actually scoring your music, you can certainly draw in your own staffs in a plain Moleskine or convert Moleskine lined pages into staffs; or you can use the Moleskine Pocket Music Notebook with its 8 staffs per page layout. No matter which you choose, you’ll be making beautiful music indeed!
Band names and Set Lists – Whether you agonize long and hard about the perfect band name or change the name every other week, keeping a list of your favorites in a Moleskine along with the names you turned down can help keep your thoughts organized and band-splitting arguments to a minimum. When you’ve got the band names worked out, you turn your attention to set lists.
Business, Projects, and Organization
Staying organized is a key to success. Unfortunately, we don’t always have computers around when we need them and not everyone is comfortable with PDA’s. Of course, not everyone is likely to want to refer to a Moleskine notebook as a “butt pilot” either, but you certainly get the idea how helpful one can be as a substitute for those ubiquitous electronic devices. We happen to think it’s an advantage that you can still write in your Moleskine during take-off and landing if you want, too.
Meeting Notes – Meetings are often boring and ineffective but that doesn’t mean your notes have to be the same way. Keep them in an elegant Moleskine notebook and they’ll at least look great. If you work out a system for tracking action items, you’ll be more organized too. One idea is to keep all your action items on one side of the page and all the meeting notes on the other. Or you can use the Moleskine Story Board Notebooks and save one box for your action items and another box for other people’s action items. However you organize your meeting notes, the Moleskines are durable enough to go from meeting to meeting, from office to home and back again in your briefcase or backpack and never let you down. We wish we could guarantee the same level of reliability for some of the people agreeing to those action items.
Project Planning – Whatever projects you’re working on, there will be lists of things to do, places to go, people to see. There will be time-lines to track, dependencies to identify, and decisions to make. Keeping all of your thoughts and ideas organized in a Moleskine is sort of like having an external hard drive for your brain. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you’ve got it all written down and don’t have to think about it all the time just to keep it in your head. How you organize your brain on paper is up to you.
Shopping List – A shopping list seems like such a simple thing and yet Moleskine notebooks can be a perfect receptacle for everyday lists. The vertical layout of the reporter-style notebook is particularly easy to read and update while wandering the aisles. Refer to old lists to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Use storyboard boxes to identify different stores you’re planning to vision errand day. You can track or even graph price fluctuations if you want. For people tracking expenses closely for budgeting purposes, Moleskines make it easy to collect receipts and create a durable record of all expenditures.
Building/Remodeling Planner – What better place than a Moleskine notebook to hold onto color swatches, building notes and ideas, To Do lists and phone numbers. Keep the nuts and bolts of your building project all in one place and you won’t have to worry whether your head is screwed on tight or not!
Gardening Journal – List all of your plants alphabetically in the address book-formatted Moleskine, make drawings of your favorite blossoms in the unlined notebook, or track your planting and the results from one year to the next in the storyboard notebook. Whichever Moleskine you choose for the task and however you use it to track how your garden grows, the pages will be as fertile ground, sprouting with information and ideas.
Gifts and Other Uses
Guest Book – Give your guests room to doodle or draw, make comments about your special event or why they’re there, provide simple contact information or their best advice, whatever will be meaningful or useful to you. Choose one of the many Moleskine notebooks best suited for the purpose and you know the event and your time together will be remembered long after the hangover has come and gone.
Personalized Notebook – Use bookbinding techniques to cover your favorite traditional hard-bound or cahier variety of Moleskine notebook with a map, decorative paper, brochure, the Sunday comics, an old book dust-jacket or whatever else strikes your fancy. The only thing better than a simple, yet elegant Moleskine is one that simply beautiful.
Favorite Wines – Remembering the special wines accompanying the significant events in our lives is easier with a Moleskine notebook; which notebook you choose is as individual as your taste in grapes. Perhaps you want to tell a story about the wines you drink, who you drink them with and on what occasions along with the flavors and smells you experience. For that, you might want a lined Moleskine. If you’re including the wine labels, perhaps you’d rather a plain Moleskine or one with grid lines. If you want to make only a brief notation about each wine, perhaps the storyboard boxes are perfect for your needs, whereas the alphabetical tabs of the address books might suit the wine connoisseur who wants to be able to look up specific wines later on.
Books – If you love reading as much as you love writing, making notes about what you’ve read is a natural and Moleskines are the notebook for you. Track what you’ve read and jot down reviews of each book. Make lists of books you want to read, which books you’d like to buy or receive as gifts and which ones you plan to check out from the library. You can even use a Moleskine to catalog all your Moleskines!
These ideas are just a start. Some of the very best ideas are combinations of the different ideas you see here or variations on a theme. The key is simple: let the blank page be an inspiration more than an intimidation and let your imagination have free rein. The possibilities for how you can use any given style of Moleskine are nearly endless; when you think of all the styles there are, the ideas easily stretch on toward infinity. So what are you waiting for? There is a Moleskine notebook out there to fill that should have your name on it.