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It is not uncommon to see me pause in mid-conversation and pull out a dogeared black notebook and scribble notes to myself. My friends have learned that this is just one of my many quirks.

My Moleskine is almost always with me, tucked into the back pocket of my jeans or the inside left pocket of my pea coat. This little notebook has been bent and folded, scratched and torn, spilled on and otherwise abused. When I do forget to bring it, I panic a little, because I have come to rely on it to record flashes of inspiration as they strike. My days are so busy that if I don’t write down an image or a scrap of overheard dialogue immediately, it will be lost forever.

To be honest, I have no idea how I ever got along without it. Over the last year, I have filled more than 38 pages with my signature miniscule, tightly-spaced handwriting, much of it illegible to anyone but myself. It perfectly preserves my thoughts as they come to me, untarnished by the erosion of time. I refer to it constantly through my writing.

Having it with me reminds me to always observe the world around me through a literary lens. The result of my habitual scribbling has been a rich foundation on which to construct my prose. Flipping through it, I find a transcription of a conversation I overheard on an airplane, dozens of short story ideas, a vivid description of Café du Monde in the French Quarter, and an stream of consciousness character description of a pretty girl with her head buried in a cookbook. All of it will eventually find its way into a story and if I hadn’t written it down when I did, I never would’ve remembered the powdered sugar footprints on the tile floor of the café or the way this particular woman would unconsciously raise and lower one eyebrow as she read.

If you don’t have a notebook that fits in your pocket, you need one. It can be a little awkward to get into the habit of taking notes regularly (my early pages show several months between entries) and at least half of what you write will either be half-baked or gibberish, but some of it will be shockingly good — and it is these moments of brilliance that makes a notebook a writer’s best friend.

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