I prefer to write in pencil, but it has to be the right one. I am a huge fan of Palomino Blackwing pencils. In my opinion, nothing else writes like them. I love the fact that the sharpening is a two-stage process. First you sharpen the pencil, then you sharpen the point, and that point is extremely sharp. My handwriting is rather tiny and the ultra-sharp point of the Blackwing means I can get definition even with tiny writing. The pencil never snags on the page, or feels grainy, it is a smooth as silk and the words just pour out. It also doesn’t smudge or fade, and the eraser is long-lasting and effective. Once you’ve used them, they’ll ruin all other pencils!
With notebooks it’s all about the paper for me. I do prefer A5 or A6 size as they fit in handbags and pockets neatly. I am drawn by appearance, and like most authors I have more notebooks than I’ll ever need because I can’t help buying them, but I never buy one with the wrong paper. I need a nice heavy gauge and good quality that won’t show anything through the page. When I do write in ink, I use real ink and I don’t want that to bleed through. I also want the paper to be smooth enough to have a nice flow, but not so smooth that the pencils smudge and the ink is slow to dry. I have a visual impairment and so I also favour cream paper over white as it’s less jarring on the eye than bright white. It might be the most beautiful notebook in the world, but if the paper is wrong then it’s no good to me.
I have work notebooks for committee meetings and library campaign stuff etc, and I keep one notebook per year for that. I use that notebook for everything – every meeting and the notes all go in the same book, dated like a diary. For these notes I prefer blank pages so that I can add stuff in between my notes, and go back. It’s a bit tricky keeping notes on many different subjects in order, so I often buy stickers so that I can see the different subject areas at a glance. I can flick through the notebook later and look for, say, red hearts for notes on empathy topics, or black castles for lists of historical and research items.
I also love Papelote notebook straps. These wonderful little things go around your notebook and hold three or five pencils. They stop all my scraps of paper from falling out of my notebooks, and they keep spare pencils to hand. As I often write in the field (and often quite literally in a field) extra pencils are great, and the A6 Papelote strap even goes around my hand so I’m never digging in my bag for something to write with. It does give me Wolverine-like pencil claws, I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but I like it!
I write both fiction and non-fiction for children, and my books on prehistoric Britain are used in just about every primary school in the country. My book on the hill forts of Britain is due out in September 2017. I’m also known for my work in library and literacy fields as a member of the Society of Authors Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group committee, and as former president of CILIP – the UK Library Association.
Bronze Age and Iron Age Hill Forts is published on 7 Sept 2017
Publisher: Capstone Global Library (Raintree Press)
My website is www.dawnfinch.com
My blog is www.dawnfinch.co.uk
My twitter is @dawnafinch