The other week, I finally filled my long-suffering Moleskine notebook, and went out to buy a new one. Writing absorbs quite a lot of my time; at the moment, I have essays, papers, resumés and personal statements to write, and that’s even before I start on anything for here. Obviously, having a good notebook is pretty important.

Notebooks—especially new ones—come with strings. What you write at the beginning sets the tone for all the words yet to come. Writing in a notebook creates an idea in your mind about what your writing is like, what that notebook is like. It creates, for want of a better word, a character, and it’s hard to break from that conception of what you should be writing.

So, when I bought the new notebook, I took an afternoon to write a couple of longish pieces. Whether or not they’ll ever see the light of day, I have no idea. That wasn’t the point. The point was to say to myself,

I write in this notebook. I write well in this notebook. I write thoughtful, considered pieces that flow well and communicate their ideas effectively. But most importantly, I write in this notebook.

After all, what’s the point of a notebook you don’t write in?

Another good example of taking time is planning, something I used to resent immensely. After all, I reasoned, shouldn’t I be spending my time working? Planning—writing lists, deciding on what to eat that week, working out the structure of my essays, keeping track of appointments—just took away from what I really ought to be doing. Foolishness, of course, but overcoming that impulse has been incredibly difficult.

To do something well, you need to take the time. Moreover, you need to spend what I call support time: planning, preparing the ground, getting things ready—getting yourself ready.

Obviously there’s a balance to be struck here; if all you do is plan, you’ll never accomplish anything. But it is a balance; too little support time and your work will be muddled, you’ll find yourself hungry and exhausted, forgetting things, and maybe not even doing that much work.

If you feel supported, by having taken the time to plan and prepare, you will have greater confidence in yourself and in your work, and that confidence will allow you to accomplish far more than you would have otherwise.