One Tool No Creative Should Ever Be Caught Without

Creatives are people who spend their time creating ideas. Writers, bloggers (yes, there’s a difference), thought leaders, entrepreneurs, marketers, or anyone else whose livelihood (or sanity) is dependent on the ideas they create.

Creatives have a lot of tools in their toolbox. Smart phones, tablets, and apps, have become the most common tools that come to mind. And why shouldn’t they? They make communicating our ideas so much simpler. We’re instantly connected to networks of other Creatives for problem solving, brainstorming, or inspiration.

These gadgets allow us to sync files, sync calendars, and sync our lives like nothing in the history of mankind.

Yet, I wonder if the desire for all this connection has caused us to overlook the most powerful tool we have: The notebook.

I’m sorry, does that strike you as too simple? Maybe a little underwhelming? Indulge me a moment as I try to change your mind.


The power of our gadgets is not primarily to help us create, but to help us connect. As a Creative, if we are consuming content, we are not creating content. Gaining inspiration and refilling the well are essential and have their place, but when you’re alone with your thoughts — isolated from the ability to consume — we as humans instinctively create. By breaking that connection, content creation becomes our only focus.


I can do more bizarre brainstorming with a notebook than I can with a tablet. I can draw up a quick Venn diagram, add a note, and draw arrows to connect that thought to one I had weeks ago on a different page. If my mind can create it, my hand can draw/write it. I’m not limited by characters or formatting.


A notebook can accurately reflect what I’m thinking. Because it’s so agile, I can copy what I’m thinking without being limited. If I come up with a picture that helps me understand an idea I’ve been struggling with for weeks, I can sketch it out as I’ve envisioned, preserving the thought as I created it. Nothing is lost in translation.


My notebook doesn’t need to recharge. It’s ready to go whenever I need it. I never have to turn it off. I never have compatibility issues. My notebook doesn’t require updates, upkeep, or gentle handling. It can go anywhere, at any time, and is ready whenever I need it. Except the shower.


It takes almost no time to whip out a notebook and jot something down, old school journalist style.

Copy and Edit

I was going to include this one as a con; a good reason against a notebook rather than a digital tool. Then I got to thinking, it’s really a blessing in disguise. When entering data into a gadget, copying that data is fairly simple and fast. With a notebook, I have to retype it into a text program. But that’s not a bad thing. Not every idea is worth keeping. Taking the time to reflect a day or two later when I’m copying it into a blog post or whatnot gives me a chance to edit out the crap, which makes up the majority of our ideas, if we’re honest.

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