My Noise Notebook

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


I had something of a creative awakening when I studied abroad in France last year. For so long, I had denied being creative, stuck to my guns about not being creative, and generally just pushed any chance or idea of creativity away. Both of my parents are artists and true creatives, and naturally I wanted to be the opposite.

In France, I had this thing that I called a noise notebook. In the stationery store in the city where I lived, they sold these notebooks called "Livres de Brouillon" which translates to "Rough Draft Book" or just a book of scratch paper. For whatever reason, the word "brouillon" reminded me of the word "bruit" which means noise. I used that notebook for whatever I wanted, sometimes drawing, journaling, hand lettering practice, or notes for class or my blog.


My noise notebook was a place for all my ideas and thoughts - the noise in my head - to be put on paper. There was no structure or guidelines for the notebook, just whatever I wanted to do with those blank pages. I filled up three noise notebooks in Caen, and started one that I brought home with me. I love my noise notebooks. They have a proud place on my desk, and I look back through them often for ideas and nostalgia. I have one that I use now, and I love it!

Little did I know that there was an actual name for this type of notebook, and it's actually a tool used by many creatives and creative people. I read this awesome post on the Kardia blog about Commonplace Books, and it was totally describing my Noise Notebook!


Four reasons (and tips!) for having a Noise Notebook, or a Commonplace Book:

1. You have a place to work through the thoughts in your head.
Whenever I get stuck on an idea, I need to work through it on paper - jotting out lists, making notes, outlines, mind maps or webs - I just need to get it out on paper.


2. Disconnect to reconnect to your creative spirit.
Keep your inspiration close and accessible all the time - especially when you don't have technology or are disconnected from the internet (which should happen often!).

3. Memory keeping in an organic, raw way.
I love looking back through my books to see what I was feeling in a completely unedited way. With my journals, scrapbooks, and blog, I definitely refine what I say where I don't edit my Noise Notebook.


4. Tips for choosing a notebook for your Noise Notebook.
I have just a few criteria for selecting a notebook: Paper quality (I like smooth paper), paper color (the brighter white, the better), and then inner pattern (I tend to go for blank notebooks). But the most important part is that you need to love it. This is a book where you'll spend a lot of time, so you need to make sure it's comfortable and a place where you want to put your thoughts and memories.

What do you think? Do you have a place to put all your thoughts and ideas? Would you ever consider having a Noise Notebook or commonplace book?

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