Apr 16

N is for Notebooks

Nothing is more guaranteed to make a writer swoon than a new notebook. Recycled, lined, branded, cheap, expensive, spiral bound, it doesn’t make a difference – a fresh and clean notebook always feels good in your hands. I’m sure you all have your favourite kinds but in the end they all mean the same thing to us – a dumping ground for the madness inside us.

It’s like downloading part of your mind for future reference. It makes it a little quieter in your noggin and it means the info is safely archived and ready for action anytime…after you’ve turned your office upside down looking for the right notebook that is. When you leave ideas swirling around in your mind it can be easy to forget them. Some people say this is a great way to filter out bad ideas and that the ideas worth remembering will always stick around. They obviously haven’t met someone with a memory as bad as mine! Just because an idea is amazing this is no guarantee it will resurface later when you’re grasping for new plot ideas.

So I write everything down, from snippets of dialogue, to scenes that play out in my brain, potential book titles, names that interest me, character traits of people sat next to me in Café Nero…yeah, that’s right I’m watching you drink your latte – anything that comes into my head and I think is interesting enough to keep. It’s a great way of building a reference file for those quieter moments in your writing life.

If the words are flowing then great, carry on – but when your inspiration dries up you can always turn to your trusty notepad and flick through the pages to stoke your imagination.

Writing things down is also a great way of defeating so called ‘writer’s block’. If you’re struggling to start that new novel then sketching out random ideas in your notebook can be a great way of getting back into the writing zone. You can try either freestyling; writing random things that seem to make no sense at the time and seeing where they go, or you can flick back through your other flashes and ideas fleshing them out until they turn into decent stories.

A writer’s notebook is essentially all the good parts of a writer’s brain – ideas in their purest form, not swirling round in a vortex of self-doubt and banging into ‘did I leave the oven on?’ thoughts. They’re a quiet place where flashes of inspiration can sit back and relax until they are needed. They’re a resource that will still be around no matter how advanced technology gets – at least they will in my house!

So go find yourself a shiny new notepad, go on treat yourself, and get scribbling…and remember to always carry a notebook with you.


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    • Ian Woodhead on April 16, 2012 at 09:16
    • Reply

    I love my notepads. They are my constant friend.

  1. I think we’re both notebook fiends.

    L wrote about 20+ (I’m not sure if that’s an exaggeration or not but it was a lot!) pages of notes (and maps) for our dystopia WIP while she was at work.

    While I ALWAYS have a notebook on me when I go anywhere (actually at least two, usually, and about four pens… and pencils…and a sketchbook…) and keep one by my bed with a pen with a light in its nib – love that thing – as most of my ideas come at 3-4am. Every idea I’ve ever had is in a notebook or a scrap piece of paper or a serviette (I write on anything that’s available).

    Also can’t resist buying a notebook when I see a nice one. My favourite notebook at the moment is the one that says “1970s Style Laptop” on it.

    ~ M ~

    1. I like the idea of the light pen, I’m always scrabbling for a light when inspiration strikes in the middle of the night!

    • Jack Dowd on April 16, 2012 at 11:14
    • Reply

    I never seem to finish my notebooks. I get near the end and start a new one leaving the remaining pages blank. I just can’t do it! I always have one on me, even in my suit at school.

    • Hunter Emkay on April 16, 2012 at 11:40
    • Reply

    Putting on my best Homer drools over doughnuts impression – “mmmmmm, notebooks”

    1. Have you been sneaking peeks at the picture for tomorrow’s post? It may contain a certain drooling doughnut fan 🙂

  2. Yes, very important to keep a note book as you never know when inspiration will strike. Sometimes I look back at old books of my poetic ideas and think did I write that? Weird.

  3. I need a new notebook. I have a bunch with half-baked ideas for my first – now shelved – novel. I have a digital notebook for my WiP. I need more for future projects.

  4. My downfall is a pretty notebook. So pretty, I hesitate to muck it up with my chicken-scratch. Finally I crack it open, only to find my 10 year old has been sketching scenes for her Harry Potter musical. Sigh.

  5. It’s not just the notebook – it’s also the pen. Where did I put my damn pen????

    1. I did that the other day! Set off into town at lunch with good intentions and realised I hadn’t brought a pen! Thank God for free bank pens 😀

  6. i thought my love for notebooks and stationery shops was an odd obsession – glad other writers have the same one!

  7. I’ve got regular-sized notebooks all over my house and I usually carry a small one with me. I sometimes use my phone to jot a note or two, but it’s not the same. 🙂

    Happy A-Z!

  8. You mean I’m not going senile? Oh thank GOD!
    I write down anything book/writing related that pops into my brain. I have to, you know, go to work and feed the kid and all of that junk, so I can’t always write when I want to and I’m absolutely paranoid that I will have an amazing idea for a scene or book and POOF, it will just be gone.
    So glad to know it’s not just my failing memory…

    Hello from A to Z 🙂

  9. Oh, me too. I buy them when I don’t even need them. It’s comforting to know there’s a totally empty notebook (or three or four) waiting, just in case.

  10. I’m totally with you on this one — imperfect memory demands perfect notebooks! I like those with thick hard covers, yellowish paper and barely visible lines… and the smell…

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