Tag Archives: journal

10 reasons to keep a writer’s notebook

Photo courtesy SXC.

I’ve kept a writer’s notebook for about 3.5 years. In that time, I’ve written successful queries, created two new blogs (this one and Creative Liberty) and significantly expanded my writing and editing work. I’m a big advocate of every writer carrying a notebook with them that they write in daily, or nearly daily.

Here are 10 reasons starting a writer’s notebook can charge up your writing work.

1. You can capture ideas before they’re gone. How many times have you had a great idea for an article, film, play, whatever, only to have it slip away before you got it committed to paper?

2. You can record sensory impressions while they are fresh. Often, what separates functional writing from truly great writing is the verisimilitude of the details. With a notebook at hand, you can capture a scene as it unfolds and not worry later if you got the color of the sky, or the color of baggy pants the strange smelly guy on the bus was wearing, right.

3. Writing your ideas down by hand is different than typing them in on your laptop.

4. You can track the development of your ideas from start to finish (even if this takes several notebooks for “big ideas” such as books!).

5. Storage and transport can be easier than computer based methods (I’m still a little leery of taking my laptop on a hike over rocky terrain).

6. Having a notebook handy makes it easier to record brain-dumps and zero drafts–which results in less blocking when it’s time to hit the computer and type a rough draft.

7. You can add mind-maps, storyboards and clippings to your notebook easily, making a neat analog multimedia experience for your story development process (think scrapbooking).

8. You can conduct an impromptu interview or write down all those stray research leads that can get lost if you depend on memory or texting your e-mail or another one-off sort of digital method.

9. Writing daily, in your own handwriting, cultivates an intimacy with your writing voice. You can find, and then fine-tune, your authentic tone.

10. Writer’s notebooks are a great place to experiment with new ideas, approaches, divulge your secret thoughts (at least to yourself) or practice a new technique in a pressure-free, private arena.

Helpful links related to keeping a writer’s notebook:

Daybooks: From the site LiketoWrite.com. A meditation on the value of “daybooks,” a personalized writer’s notebook. The term was coined by the late great journalist and writing coach Don Murray.

1000 Journals and 1001 Journals: A fascinating collaborative journaling project that has made its way around the world and spawned a book and documentary. The websites feature scans and photos of the pages of many of the journals.

Moleskine: The favored brand of notebook for many a writer.

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