It’s a writer thing

June 29, 2011

Hello, my name is Jae and I’m an addict.

Okay, my name isn’t really Jae (you did know that it’s a pseudonym, right?). But I really do have a strange obsession with office supplies.

For a long time, I thought I was the only one who browses office supply stores with the same enthusiasm with which other women browse shoe stores. But once I started talking to other writers, I found out that it’s quite a common addiction among writers.

As a writer, can you really ever have enough notebooks, pens, folders, binders, post-it notes, highlighters, notepads, pencils, staplers, paper clips, and index cards? And, of course, you need them in all the available colors and sizes.

Some writers have particular fetishes — some are obsessed with folders and binders. Others collect pens. I’m a notebook junkie. I have a notebook for everything – one for character names, one for research notes, one for story ideas, one for the books I read… and at least a dozen new ones still waiting to be filled with information and ideas.

This is what my living room floor looked like once I piled them all up in one place:

I take a notebook with me wherever I go, preferably a small one with an elastic band to hold the notebook closed.

Some of the notebooks I have at home are almost too beautiful to use, including the Paperblanks with a magnetic flap.

I’m always on the hunt for good pens too. I know some writers are particular about the kind or color of pen they use. Personally, I prefer black pens.

Thank God notebooks and pens are a cheaper obsession than shoes! 🙂

What about you? Do you have a slight obsession with office supplies too?



  1. Hello. My name is Glenda and I’m an addict! LOL

    I am drawn to ink pens, but only gel, roller ball, or fountain pens, with fountain pens being my favorite. And I love them in every color I can get my hands on. I keep three seperate journals (yes, notebooks are my other fetish!), each written in a different color. And I am also an intrepid book-marker-upper and I use a different color pen for each book.

    Notebooks – oh me, oh my! I’m a lot like you, Jae. I have one for notes, one for characters, one for this and one for that, as well as the ones for my journals. And I NEVER go anywhere without at least one either on my person or in my bag.

    And accessories. I love the matching paper clips and staplers and even colored staples.

    If I ever win the lottery …

  2. I love gel pens, all colors though my favorites are black and purple, and ring binders, canary yellow legal pads. I try to remember to get everything I write down into the computer, but I am almost always under a teetering avalanche of paper to be transcribed. And half the time I end up throwing it away instead of typing it in. I have to try out different angles and it just doesn’t feel the same at the exploratory stages of a story to be typing it into the computer. My brain resists that as too permanent. Legal pad pages can be ripped up, scenes reorganized, lines crossed out and arrows from paragraphs to others with asterisks for insertions. My brain seems to always want to plan the story out more visually like that.

    Occasionally to find the right voice I am convinced I need to try writing scenes from each character’s POV in a specific color. Whichever color feels most comfortable, that’s the one the draft gets written in.

    Oh, goodness, it feels great to get this unusual behavior out in the open among friends who could understand!

    • Hi, Lara,

      different colors for different POVs sounds like a great idea! I actually tried that when I typed on the computer too.

      And yes, it does feel great to discuss this with people who understand. My non-writer friends don’t quite understand why I need a “goldfish glass” full of highlighters 🙂

  3. My name is Beth….and I’m a pen and notepad addict.

    There, I’ve said it aloud and I will add….I’m not ashamed to have this addicition. Office supply stores, college bookstores, small paper shops…..none are safe from my wandering eyes and touching hands. I’m sure I have enough notebooks and pens to last my lifetime but still the lure persists, (and, as a reader, I can’t even justify the use of said items as work needs.)

    Have pen/paper…..a list will be forthcoming. 🙂

    • Welcome to the club, then. Maybe you are a closeted writer 😉

  4. I guess I’m a multiple addict: pens AND notebooks. Oh, and sticky notes. With lots of wild, bright colors. I’m also an organizer wanna-be. Notice I said “wanna-be”. My scientific/organized mind is always in a duel with my creativity. As much as I try to organize my space (and thoughts) into neat little categories, they tend to end up anywhere and everywhere. I’m also always buying new sheets and on the hunt for ones that feel great against your skin, but are INK-RESISTANT.

    • Sticky notes are a must-have for me too.

      I have never heard of ink-resistant sheets, but let me know if you find them.

  5. Hello. My name is RJ… and I’m an addict.

    You can never have enough notebooks. One for each novel… at least 😉 Then of course, one for character names, each new story idea need it’s own notebook, more notebooks filled with research that might need again. The list just kind of goes on and on.

    I never leave the house with a small notebook. I started that one after ending up trying to write a scene in a restaurant once on napkins.

    And pens… you can never have enough pens. My favorite are the Uni-ball brand especially with the fine and ultra-fine points.

    You’re not alone, Jae. It must be a writer thing. 🙂

    • > One for each novel… at least.

      True. And the information in those notebooks sure comes in handy when you write a sequel, right?

      • Oh yeah! Those notebooks are worth their weight in gold as I’ve been working on the LA Metro trilogy.
        And each novel in the trilogy is even getting their own new notebook as I work on the new extended versions.

        And should I ever get the time to write the sequel to Double Trouble I hope to write some day, the original story notebook will make all the difference. 🙂

  6. Hi. My name is Laurie and I’m an addict. This is the first time I’ve been able to admit it, but I feel so at home in the company of the rest of you addicts, I can finally come to terms with it. *big sigh.* I obsess over gel pens, roller pens and anything paper. I have a gzillion sticky notes on my writing table….thing is I hardly ever use them. Maybe I would if they weren’t consistently hidden by my note books and colored note cards. Of course, when I move the misc. paper items, I find more pens and quickly forget about the sticky pads. It’s a horrible circular addiction I guess.

    • Oooh, a sticky note junkie 🙂

      Welcome to office supply addicts anonymous (or not so anonymous), Laurie.

  7. Hi everyone, I’m an addict named Kenzie and I obsess over oversized artisan-made coffee mugs, the quest for the ultimate lined notebook with just the perfect rule (not too dark and just the right width), and the massive dark-toned wooden writing desk and booklined studio that exists in my vivid imagination.

    • Well, desks and whole studios are a more expensive addiction 😉

  8. Hello, my name is Nancy, and I am an addict, and proud of it!
    Pens…god forbid I ever use just a cheapo! Gotta be blue and fine point. If I find a pen that I REALLY like, I will go back and by several more. I good friend of mine had some really sweet pens. After her and her wife saw me drooling over them, some are now mine. I think in total, they have given me several awesome pens and pen & pencil sets…yes I am a pen ho!
    Pencils, when I write, I use pencils. I like a good mechanical one, .05 lead, and I have over 100 regular lead pencils. Gotta be Ticonderoga…just like the way the name sounds and they are pretty good pencils.
    Paper and pads…oh my! If I am down to less then 8 unused ones, I start to panic. Does not matter in the least that I have about a gazillion that I am using. If it is on sale, and it is a good one, it is in my cart.
    Paper clips, a rainbow of colors. Bulldog clips, same thing. And those evil people who come out with the new clips that look like clothes pins, large and jumbo clips, etc., should be shot…I have them all.
    And we can’t forget all those clever containers to store everything in. Office Depot is a really, really evil place. They have those cute ‘Really useful boxes’ in several sizes and colors. So I have the purple for my upstairs work area, clear and blue for downstairs. All my paper clips must be sorted by size and type, my pencil lead in another, my erasers in another…you get the drift!
    I feel the need for a office supply fix now…thanks Jae!

    • Ooops. Did I cause a relapse? 😉

      Maybe someone should start a twelve-step program, but I think most of us don’t want to be cured.

  9. I love me some journals – all kinds, but especially Moleskine. I keep one for each new project and carry it everywhere. The nifty pocket in the back is handy for storing the cocktail napkin with important notes 🙂

    • Ah, another Moleskine addict. I like them too, although they are a bit overprized.

  10. I am NaughtyZed. I am not a office products addict. I think this is because I’m not a writer. However, I am part of the support staff for a yearly newspaper project at Burning Man.

    We have about 15-30 writers that for one week camp in the Nevada desert, trying to document the event and provide some infotainment. They scurry about the desert, clutching notebooks and pens encrusted with bacon grease & playa dust, writing art reviews and witty columns.

    I’ve witnessed strange and dramatic altercations between our writers:

    “That’s MY pen.”
    “No, it’s not.”
    “Yes, it is”.
    “No, it’s not.”
    “Yes, it is”.
    “How do you KNOW that’s your pen???”
    “I know all my pens…”

    And they mean it. I’m pretty sure they can identify their pen in a line-up.

    If I find a stray pen in the layout/production RV, I do not have the temerity to simply place it in the Lost Pens box. No. I must make an effort to find the owner first or later I may find a wild-eyed journalist ransacking my RV, “Have you seen it? My pen…”

    Reading the other posts in this thread makes me feel a little more confident about my campmates’ sanity. Just a little. 😉

    • > I’m pretty sure they can identify their pen in a line-up.

      Hehehe. And maybe even with their eyes closed… 🙂

      Thanks for your comment. It was great to read about our strange addiction from the perspective of someone who is not a writer.

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