this thing's incredible

The (Truly) Waterproof Notepads a Crime Writer Uses to Craft Plots in the Shower

The author’s AquaNotes mid-shower with her Blackwing pencil right beside them. Photo: Karin Slaughter

At the beginning of my writing career, I bought all kinds of notebooks (from Moleskines to fancy journals with handmade paper) to keep handy for jotting down ideas, but none of them ever really worked for me. I always went back to using stray pieces of paper, hotel stationery, and the back of a CVS receipts. My one issue with those? They don’t really work when wet, which would seem like a weird complaint were it not for the fact that about 70 percent of my good ideas — including several of my book titles — have come to me while in the shower.

My father always taught me to make sure I have the right tools for every job, so whenever there’s a task to do, I look for the best, most efficient way to do it. I first found AquaNotes by doing a Google search for “notepads that can get wet.” I’ve also used similar notepads from a company called Rite in the Rain, but the paper felt icky and it had a metal spiral binding and I’m not getting a tetanus shot for a notebook. The AquaNotes website’s testimonials had me rooting for the product before the shipment I ordered even arrived. The one that sold me read, “The writing stayed intact even when I … hit it hard with the shower hose!”

I like to think about the guy who developed AquaNotes having a very, very patient wife who, in the planning stages when he sunk all of their retirement into the business, would whisper to her friends, “Larry is working on his AquaNotes.” And I want to believe she stood up to her mother about it, even though she was secretly worried. “Larry has a vision, Mother!” (According to the website, their real names are actually Mark and LeAnn, but this story is about my journey, not theirs.) Each pad has two big suction cups on its back to easily attach it to a wall and contains 40 sheets which are perforated at the top. This is great for me because they’re super easy to tear off and toss into the fancy sandwich bag where I generally keep all of my scraps of ideas until it’s time to get to work. The paper’s texture is a cross between Tyvek and a dollar bill, which means you can only use a pencil to write on it. The pads do come with a pencil inscribed “No more great ideas down the drain!” on the side; unfortunately, that pencil is the kind that gets scritchy at the point — and I like a sharp point. So I always replace it with a Blackwing (first note: Is it safe to keep a battery-operated pencil sharpener on the shower ledge?).

In addition to using AquaNotes to jot down plot points or dialogue like “Sara finds clue in dead man’s intestines” or “Faith to Will: Toddlers are like burglars. They break your shit and leave fingerprints everywhere,” I also love giving the pads as gifts because no one realizes how much they need them until they have them. The company also sells Aqua LoveNotes (the pads come with a red pencil) and Aqua FunNotes (the pads feature word searches and mazes on their pages), but frankly, no one needs to spend that much time in the shower. (It’s called global warming, Larry!) And it recently launched a new product called Boat Notes. I guess I’m going to have to get a boat.

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The Waterproof Notepads a Crime Writer Uses in the Shower