Most writers I know have an addiction to something (coffee, Twitter, buying books, stationary). I have been collecting notebooks for years and years, and recently I have started to make my own. I really enjoy crafting my own supplies. I feel like it gives me a certain kind of creative independence, and it allows me to connect with my craft that much further.
Last week I prepared two notebook-making workshops as part of my university’s Summer Showcase, and I have three new notebooks which need to be given a purpose. If you would like to make your notebook too, you can follow this tutorial.
I finally have no excuse but to set up my own writer’s notebook, something that has been on my to do list for months.
In the past I’ve had a few pages with notes scattered about in my day planner, but it’s always difficult to recall which idea went into which planner. Every few weeks I would have to go back and rip those pages out so I could collect them in my archives.
I’ve heard a few of my favourite social media writing influencers talk about them, and they seem like a great tool to incorporate into my routine.
Reasons why you might use a writer’s notebook
–To keep track of ideas that pop into your head while working on other projects. There is nothing more distracting than having an idea for a different project and being anxious you’re going to forget it before you’re ready to move on to it. Write it down and give yourself permission to forget about it (for now).
–To collect information. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out and about enjoying my day when I hear or see something that I think would work great in my story and I’d have nowhere to write it down. Or if I did, I couldn’t find it when I sat back down at my desk.
–To reflect on your writing practice. This is an essential skill I picked up while at university. Reflection not only helps vent out frustrations and clear your head, but it also allows you to analyse your practice and identify what you need to change or improve about it.
–To leave something behind. Sometimes it’s as straightforward as that. My mum showed me one of my grandfather’s writing notebooks and I found it fascinating. I had no idea he was a writer up until that point, let alone the fact that he was a really good writer. Having that allowed me to connect with him on a deeper level as I didn’t get a chance to do so when he was alive because I was too young to remember.
–To take the pressure off. I always experience ‘performance anxiety’ when it comes to starting a new story. The blank page exerts too much pressure on my fragile new ideas, so having a place where I can develop them and free-write is a great way to relieve that added stress.
How do you start a writer’s notebook?
You don’t have to go to the extremes that I did. I just love crafting, so I made my own notebook. But any store-bought alternative will do for this. Keep it accessible for your lifestyle!
Make sure whatever alternative you choose is something that is attractive to you, something that will make you want to come back to it time and time again.
I made my cover from upcycled materials: I found the blue paper in a waste pile in the library and I gave it a little spruce with a decorative doodle. The black ribbon has been waiting in a ‘random drawer’ for a while and it was just the perfect size for the project. Finally, I chose to leave the spine raw because I like the way the rows of stitches look in contrast with the elegance of the bow.
What I included in my notebook
-Contents page. This is not for every single thing that goes into the notebook, just things I know I will want to come back to over and over again, such as notes from my reading or templates/maps etc.
-Notes of encouragement. This section (3 spreads) is used to collect kind comments I have received about my writing over the last three years and moving forward. The process of writing them all down has been beneficial to my confidence already.
-Reflections. I will, of course, continue the habit of keeping a reflective journal as part of my writing practice. It’s truly helpful to me, and a tangible way of tracking my progress. 1-2 pages per writing session are usually enough for me.
-Collected words/quotes. Sometimes I really like the sound of a word and I want to remember it so I can use it in a later project. They usually end up on random bits of paper that get lost.
-Character notes. I come up with characters more than I do with story ideas or plot points, so this is a given for me.
-Notes & free-writing. Just general notes, a space for all of those little scenes that just jump out and disappear like a rabbit in front of a car’s headlights. The notebook is there to make sure they land safely.
-Clippings. Pictures, newspaper stories, anything that catches my eye and sparks a line of dialogue or a good metaphor is worth recording in some way.
So, there you have it, all about my writer’s notebook. I’m excited to explore more of its uses, and I want to hear your suggestions about the kind of things I might keep in it. Do you have a writer’s notebook? If yes, what do you keep in it?