I usually have about five books on the go at the same time and one of my current reads is Obama’s ‘A Promised Land’. I prefer to read non-fiction, especially memoirs and especially political memoirs and especially American political memoirs! Obama is a fantastic writer and I am relishing the detail of his rise to the presidency. However, I found a seemingly small detail very interesting indeed – he often wrote his speeches in longhand first, on “yellow legal pads”, disliking the tidy appearance of word processed “half baked thoughts”. On reading this, I was reminded of a recent blog post on the importance of handwriting by teacher and author Alex Quigley. His post included reports of studies that evidenced the beneficial effect of handwritten compositions on the quantity and quality of words generated by students. Moreover, students were able to record the words more quickly than by typing them. This is a real bonus for students who buzz with ideas and want to ‘get them down’ quickly. Anyway, on reading these accounts by Obama and Quigley, I was inspired yesterday to purchase a notepad as a receptacle for my first draft blog posts. I was a long time in the shop because a) there was quite an array to choose from and b) having read about the importance of handwriting it felt like I was making a major decision! Choice made, I headed home and resisted writing in my newly acquired notepad for 24 hours, not wanting to spoil the aesthetic appeal of its emptiness. I took the plunge today and yes, now that I have drafted this post by hand first, the notepad is no longer the beautiful item it was in the shop. However, I am aware of William Blake’s admonition to “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” and therefore I hope this notepad will go from being beautiful to useful.