In Create

Write/Draw: An AllSwell Notebook Review

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When I was around seven years old, I became what you would call obsessed with writing and storytelling. I was plowing through loose-leaf paper with total abandon, scrawling tales as outrageous and romantic as my little brain could conjure.

I remember dreaming up plot twists that excited me so much I couldn’t sleep.  Getting so excited about the end of the story that I would skip ahead and write that first. Little did I know that’s an actual story drafting technique used by legit authors!

When I was around twelve, I started writing about my life and keeping a diary. I quickly realized I’d harnessed a tool that would allow me to vent my angsty pre-teen emotions while doing something I felt was so important: documenting fleeting moments to return to later.

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More personal daily writing became routine: stream of consciousness, bad poetry, you name it. It was pure, existential, curious, and totally Libra-tastic.

When I was thirteen-or-so, my love of visual arts took over. I’d been drawing and crafting since I was a tot, but it was in my early teens that I really started sketching like it was my job. I created imagery that represented what I wanted in life. Creative, romantic moments I imagined while listening to techno (I spent a lot of time daydreaming back then).

I would draw girls traveling alone, embarking on an adventure, waiting in airports with a pile of pink suitcases, neon lights, and city skylines, warm boutique windows full of dreamy clothing designs…

Looking back, I really began to manifest some of those abstract and perhaps superficial ideas into a more tangible reality. But that’s another story…

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These days I wonder how important all of that sketching and writing has been to my creative journey—to my personal growth. I have no doubt it shaped me as a young person.

Sure, I jumped at the chance to learn rudimentary website building and blogging right around Y2K, but I’ve always felt called to pick up a pen and get something onto paper.

AllSwell says it best: 

“While the world has become undeniably digital, research shows that putting pen to paper is linked to increased wellbeing, and basically a boosted brain. It is physiologically, emotionally and mentally beneficial.”

They had me at “boosted brain”. But there are endless therapeutic and feel-good reasons to get your sketch and scribble on once in a while.

So, back to our notebook, which AllSwell so kindly gifted me.

On the “WRITE” side, I began New Year’s resolutions and to-do lists…

It wasn’t before long that I broke all of the rules and started drawing! If you’ve never drawn out your to-do list or goals list, I highly recommend it. For example, I drew all the things I planned to have for breakfast the following day. Drawing miniature food is, for whatever reason, one of my favorite things to do.

On the “DRAW” side, I drew this lady-fish creature that appeared in one of my dreams many years ago. I’ve been drawing variations of her ever since (tattoo someday, I think). Then, I went back to drawing breakfast food. Pretty random, but also pretty satisfying!

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I don’t think we should worry about filling our notebooks with anything profound, but rather to use them as authentic outlets for our creativity and thoughts. I love these small, compact carry-everywhere notebooks that let me tap into the muse at a moment’s notice. And having a side for writing and drawing is even better (even if I draw and write in both).

This has become my paper play space. A little sanctuary to jot down ideas and scribble when I need to get my wheels turning. Every artist needs something like that.

AllSwell touts these blank pages as a chance to experience “creativity unplugged”, without any pingbacks from social media or judgments from onlookers. Pure experimentation and expression—just like my beginnings as a genius seven-year-old novelist. And really, how refreshing is that?

Grab one for yourself and see what ends up on the pages.

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