I am quite particular about my writing notebooks. I can’t be without a stack of pristine Muji notebooks. There’s something about the uniformity of the covers, the satisfaction of a pile of used notebooks collected together with a rubber band in the cardboard box I keep for all notes pertaining to my current novel. Everything gets tossed into this box, pages torn from newspapers or magazines, scenes with feedback notes from my writing friends, old photographs, photocopies of pages from books, maps, leaflets from places I’ve visited for research. Inside my Muji I guess the contents are like anyone else’s writing notebook – random ideas, character sketches, research notes from books, first drafts and re-drafts of scenes, diagrams for plot development, even poems if the mood strikes me. My friends and family know I love notebooks too, so my cupboard is full of pretty ones received as birthday or Christmas presents. They all know the most important element – no spiral-bindings, they must be saddle-stitched so the notebook can be opened flat and I can write comfortably from the left edge to the right edge of the page. The notebook comes into its own on days when it seems impossible to start writing anything beyond a shopping list. Often I will simply sit with the notebook in my hand, feeling its weight, smelling the paper, looking at the design on the cover [if the one currently in use is not a Muji] . This normally works for me, writing becomes possible. Interestingly, the pen doesn’t matter too much though it has to be a pen not a pencil. Cheap Bic biros work for me except in a library where pens are banned and pencil is king. So in my handbag and laptop bag there are always a pen, pencil and mini Muji notebook. I am a pretty organised person so I don’t leave my writing notebooks sitting around with untranscribed notes – one, my handwriting is bad and the longer I leave it the more likely it is that I will miss bits; and two, my notes can sometimes seem cryptic when I read them back so quick transcription is best and a habit from my journalism days learned the hard way from managing pages of shorthand notes. When I started writing my first novel I used a card index box and filled out loads of cards with ideas from my notebook which helped me to plot and manage my themes. Now I keep documents on Word in exactly the same way, notes may be moved to a research document, to a file about a particular character, or a specific idea which has a particular place in the story will be added to my chapter planner.