Trisha, I found (when I first started crocheting) a notebook helped me keep track of stitches, tips, rows, etc so I didn’t have to back track or look through multiple books for techniques. I just carried it through the past 26 years. I find it works well in my knitting. The way my brain is wired it makes it so much easier.
When I first started crocheting my boy was not quite 2 yrs. He grabbed my row counter and… well I had to recount everything. So I used paper and he never touched it. Of course I only crocheted while he slept. I learned the hard way .
I also love reading pattern books. I read them like books and I just get it. I however can not graph a pattern though. I can read them and work from them.