Does a bigger book encourage more writing? I feel like I’m writing a heck of a lot more than I used to, and I seem to be filling up books at the same rate, despite their being larger.
My theory is that a page is a psychological milepost. Whether that page is large or small doesn’t matter, a filled page is a filled page. Want to write more? Use a larger page, or so it would seem for me. But really?
Fortunately, it’s an easy thing to measure.
I counted the number of pages filled, the number of entries, dates of first and last entries, and the page size of 10 notebooks I’ve filled starting in the late 90′s to present day. Not all of them, but enough, I think.
The came in three sizes: four Pocket moleskine books which are about 19 sq. in per page, four medium 5×8 books which were about 40 sq. in. per page, and two large books, which were 70 sq. in. and 107 sq. in.
The interesting thing is that averaged across a total of 1,035 entries, a total of 2,029 pages were used, for an average of 1.96 pages per entry.
Large books averaged 1.98, small books averaged 2.29, and medium averaged 1.88. Not much of a spread, when you consider that the area of a small book page is half that of a medium book’s page. If we assume that square inches are proportional to number of words written, which should hold true if text size stays constant, then it’s true – a bigger book means more writing. A medium size book averaged 74 square inches per entry, a small was 44, and large books averaged 134.
There were only two large books to be counted. One is an accounting record book which was the oldest in this experiment. The other is the Leuchtturm1917 which I’m currently using. So it’s possible that with a few more books the numbers could shift, but even if we ignore the largest books, the difference between medium and small size books is pretty significant. Some of the small books came after some of the medium books, so it’s not simply that I’m writing more as I get older. Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between the average entries per day in a book and the average pages per entry in the same book.
The bad news is that bigger books may hold a lot more writing, but they don’t hold a lot more history, since they don’t hold a lot more pages. A pocket moleskine has 192 pages, a Leuchtturm1917 hardcover has 218 (not counting the perforated sheets), and a large Moleskine has 240. At two pages per entry, there’s not a lot of difference.
So if you want to write more, using a bigger book may do the trick.
By the way, all those entries used something over 72,000 square inches of paper, or smudge over 500 square feet. It would perhaps cover the walls of a large bedroom – say 18′ x 14′, allowing for windows.