Do you have a stationery fetish?

I was browsing the Viking stationery catalogue on Wednesday looking to see if they had a different version of my attractive, hardback, high quality Oxford Black n’ Red notebook.

Why would I be doing this when I had a perfectly good, brand-new notebook already? I wanted to see if they had a version of the same notebook with Irish ruled lines (for the uninitiated, Irish rules are just narrower).

The ‘right’ stationery

Minutiae like these drive people who believe that – to do their best work – they need to have the ‘right’ collection of stationery.

And not just that. The stationery has to be arranged on their desk and in various draws ‘just so’ (compulsive neatness usually goes hand in hand).

To such people, achieving this lofty goal means they will be able to turn lead into gold, or write the great 21st century novel, or finally produce the blindingly fantastic writing that currently lies just just beyond their grasp, awaiting the day when the right pen is held over the right notebook.

Legendary notebooks for ordinary people

This is one of the reasons why Moleskine has proliferated. Moleskine markets itself as the ‘legendary’ notebook that was used by artistic luminaries such as Hemingway and Picasso.

But what are their marketers actually doing? They’re playing on the subtle idea that, somehow, anyone can scale the creative heights of the greats by recreating similar surroundings or circumstances – which might, just might, have imbued their work with that little something extra.

This is, of course, untrue; but like the relics of saints, there is a certain mystique that draws people towards the idea of owning something of the same kind as someone great.

So do I have a stationery fetish? Well, I have a slightly excessive appreciation of good stationery, but the fact is that one of my best pieces of writing was scrawled on the inside of a cigarette packet I found on the floor of a Nottingham club.

Vitriolic copy

It was a short, vitriolic social critique, and I still have it – thoroughly disinfected, though.

Ultimately, any form of creative angst can lead to superstition. What we must not forget is that the answer doesn’t lie outside ourselves, and certainly not in a fresh packet of Field Notes or a cellophane-wrapped Moleskine.

Copywriting’s not excluded. When you use words to connect buyers with the answer to their problems, it’s human insight – not handmade paper – that’s behind the art.

So, I’m not going to order an Irish-ruled notebook from overseas.  Besides, I’ve already got two precisely positioned on my desk at home…

Copywriter: Johan van der Merwe

Category: Blog, copywriting
Tags: copywriter-stationery, copywriters-oxford-black-red, copywriting, irish ruled notebooks, irish-lines-stationery, irish-notebooks-stationers, irish-ruled-notepad, Moleskine, notebook-stationery-blog, notebooks, stationary-fetish, stationery, stationery-blog, stationery-blog-uk, stationery-fetish, stationery-notebooks-blog, the-best-stationery-blogs, viking-stationary-catalogue, what-would-you-have-as-stationary

More: « The best copywriting: so simple people won’t pay for it? | We launch The Copywriting Agency for SMEs »


  1. I have a moleskine, but that’s just because I’m incredibly pretentious at times. I try and justify it with words like “paper quality” and “heard-wearing”, but that distracts from the fact that I write my best and most concise notes on the back of my hand.

    Saying that, I also use a very expensive pen – but that was a gift from my partner (she panicked and spent ridiculous money on a chrome-plated biro, of all things).

    Your points are correct though, as always. If you’re relying on your magic pen or lucky notebook to somehow inspire you, you’re probably buggered.

    Comment left by Andy Nattan on Friday 14th May, 2010 at 10:02 am

  2. I have started writing poetry. I received a notebook for my birthday. Blank pages- I love that- can spread my scrawl all over the place, think outside the box! No hard and fast ruled lines to get in my way!
    Problem is- the notebook is a queer shape- and the cover is lilac with a matching pen with purple ink. But I am not entirely happy! So will continue my search for the ideal notebook tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…..
    I sound like a fussy Virgo! I am NOT- I am a zany Aries! But what people do not realize is that for us Aries folks the gut reaction is the true measure of things. Even such trifling matters as notebooks for poetic musings!We’ve gotta feel it!

    Comment left by Titania James on Wednesday 26th May, 2010 at 9:27 pm

  3. I agree with Andy – although I would admit to having a certain fondness for spending hours in Paperchase, anyone who relies on such purchases for inspiration is probably barking up the wrong tree. My best notes ever have been written on the back of envelopes, usually in scrawly pencil. No one can read them but me!

    Comment left by Clare Elsley on Thursday 24th June, 2010 at 5:04 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment