Alison BaverstockMost writers seem to love stationery - it is, after all, the means by which we first communicate - even if we subsequently get hooked on the computer.

I can remember the joy with which I went through the list of stationery needed for my final year at junior school, buying one crayon a week until I had the required number. And then, when you got to school, there was the specialness of writing on the first page of each brand new exercise book; trying to produce your very best writing for this shiny spot. Maybe it was the way that the paper here had rubbed against the cardboard cover that made this page so smooth, or the undoubted import of writing in such a prominent place. Subsequent pages never seemed quite as magical.

WH Smith is full of good deals on stationery as is Wilkinsons, but my real passion is our local Paperchase, within Kingston's Borders. I have got hooked on their spiral bound notebooks with contrasting elastic trim. The covers change regularly and it's such a pleasure choosing. And then every time I bring my latest one out of my bag it gives me such a sense of pleasure.

What is more, since I started using them, my accompanying resolution that henceforth I would only write things down in one place, has been a considerable boon to my diminishing memory.

Musing further on stationery, some writers get stuck on a particular format, and find themselves unable to write without it. Frederick Forsyth apparently once bought the entire warehouse contents of a stationery firm that was going out of business, just to ensure an uninterrupted supply.

Another author, used to foolscap paper with two holes down the side, suddenly found that only four holed stock was available. And such was his need to preserve his familiar writing environment, that he bought a supply of small round white labels, with which to cover the two gratuitous holes.

Jacqueline Wilson likes writing in beautiful notebooks, Nicholas Allan using a Mont Blanc pen - because it makes him feel his work is important. I heard Quentin Blake say recently that he likes drawing with feather quills, and talked about a particularly satisfying experience when he was able to illustrate a variety of birds, each one with an appropriate feather.

Best wishes,

Alison Baverstock

(author and trainer)