What’s In Your Notebook?

It’s been an exciting few weeks here at Writerly Life. As I work to make the transition from the old site to the new one, I’m pleased to see the blossoming of new dialogue and conversation in the comments of posts here. I meant the new site to be a new opportunity for communication in the writing world, and I’m delighted to see just that happening. Rest assured, I’m reading all of your comments, and I respond to many of them in my weekly mailbag series. Be sure to check it out, and add your voice to past or present posts. I respond to as many as I can, and read and appreciate all of them.

Now let’s get down to the question I’m asking in this post: what do you use your notebooks for? As computer applications like Evernote and just text documents get better at storing our snippets of thought or article clippings, the purpose of the old paper notebook is getting siphoned off, but I still use a variety of notebooks to help my writing. One notebook is exclusively for notes on stories. Whenever I have a new story in mind, I begin a new page and jot down ideas about characters, what the main problem is, what I want to the prevailing mood to be, or possible scenes. It’s tremendously helpful to have this step in the storywriting process; it gives you a little direction, somewhere to go when you’re finally ready to write the actual piece.

Another notebook, from the beautiful Bookbinders Design, which I reviewed here at Writerly Life, is for keeping a kind of scrapbook of my drafts. When I write drafts by hand or on my typewriter, I paste them into this notebook so that they’ll all be together and I’ll have a sense of all the creative work I finished in a particular year. I’ve already filled up two notebooks with these drafts and am well into a third.

These are my primary two notebooks for my writing life. What do you use your notebooks for? Are you using them effectively? No matter how wired we are these days with smartphones and netbooks, I still think it is very important to have a notebook on you when you’re out and about. It’s a place for putting down your thoughts and for remembering things you see. Everyone thinks they will remember what they see as they go about their day, but most people forget most of the details. Writers are different because they know they have to write it down. So share what you use your notebook for in the comments, and keep carrying one around with you during the day.


  1. katyusha says:

    Oh, goodness, I keep EVERYTHING in my notebooks. I do my first drafts by hand (on notebook paper, stored safely in a four-inch binder), take notes on a little notepad, and only type things once I’ve sorted through them in my head. I can’t type first drafts–edit mode goes into effect and I can’t finish anything. Better for me to get it all out and edit as I type. That, and the slower pace of handwriting allows me time to think while I write, and I have less editing to do afterward!

  2. Mike says:

    I don’t really use notebooks very much these days. If I want to do a quick bit of writing away from my computer, I’m more likely to grab my iPod Touch and pound out a couple paragraphs.

  3. Lauren says:

    I have a notebook which I write all my plans and thoughts on my stories, and also any ideas that I could use once I think of a plot and characters to go with it. But all the actual writing of my stories is typed on Word – writing is too slow and gets really messy as I think of better words as I’m writing! Also people can’t read my rushed handwriting too well.

  4. Sonia says:

    I used to carry a notebook everywhere but these days . . . does my blog and iTouch count? My flash drive? They got everything and my iTouch works pretty well for a few paragraphs and jotting down quick ideas.

Leave a Reply