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Getting to Know the Writer's Notebook

You may have heard that the writer’s notebook is a very important tool for the writer. But why is that?

At its most basic definition, a writer’s notebook is a place for a writer to gather their noticings and thoughts that they can use for future writing. It is a tool box filled with things that make the job of writing easier. The notebook holds ideas and inspiration until the writer needs them.

Just a flip through the pages of your written notebook and an idea you placed there can spark a writing idea.

Wondering what to put in a notebook? Here are a few ideas:

Record what you see and hear. The capture a scene in words. Write down something funny you overheard. Paint the brilliance of a sunrise using words.

Play around with words and ideas. Try out a new genre. Jot an opening line. Sketch a story.

Start a list. Story ideas can escape if they are not written down. Keep a list of fun words. Jot a list of what you see outside your window right now.

Tune into your senses. Describe the sound of the wind or the scent of burgers sizzling on the grill.

Write small. Try to be as specific as you can. Give words to the sound of laughter or the squawk of a bird.

Play. Don’t worry about the bigger story. Focus on making one scene, one stanza, one sentence the best you can make it.

It is important to note that the notebook is no place for judgement. (This will make you want to give up your notebooking habit faster than you can put the cap back on your pen.) Don’t compare your notebook to someone else’s notebook. Your notebook needs to work for YOU, and only you.

I have several notebooks that each serves a different purpose. (Some people may think three notebooks is too much, but like I said, it's what works for me. :)

First, I keep ideas for blog posts in an Evernote file. I like that I have access to this file from all of my devices so it's easy to find and use.

I also keep a bullet journal. This goes EVERYWHERE with me. Here, I will write lots of lists -- writing ideas, daily goals, notes about books I'm reading, inspirational quotes, etc.

Finally, I keep a journal that I (try to) write in every day. Here, I record the happenings of my life. You never know when one of these memories will spark a writing idea!

Interested in building your own writer’s notebook?

Join me in The Teach Write Academy this summer. Our course, "Building a Writing Habit" will help you build your notebook with creative, purposeful ideas that you can also take back into your writing classroom.

If you haven't already, I hope you will give keeping a notebook a try. As long as you remember that you make the rules when it comes to keeping a notebook, you'll probably find it's not as difficult as you think.

Write away,



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