Part of my love (vice) of books includes an addiction to notebooks and journals. I imagine it goes along with my deep need to write, which showed itself on the walls of my childhood home. (Sorry mom.)
For each new writing project, I like to select a notebook to track my wild digressions, character ideas, and anything else that could be important for building in themes, plot, or subplots. When I was writing my memoir, I kept a list of research and ideas I wanted to pursue and questions that I needed to answer. I used my project notebook as a place to park them so I could free up my brain for the task at hand.
A NaNoWriMo notebook is especially helpful because in the heat of writing 50,000 words, the ideas will be springing out of your brain and you likely can’t address each one in the month of November. So having a place to track them will free up your brain. And if you freeze up somewhere along the 50,000 mad word dash of NaNoWriMo, you can look in your notebook for a jolt of inspiration.
If you’ve been writing your ideas on scraps of paper, just tape them onto a page of your notebook. Once you finish your draft and are ready to go into revision mode, your notebook entries create a sense of direction. If you come to a place where you aren’t sure what to do next, you may find a clue in your notebook.
I like to pick a notebook that has a distinctive color or style, so I can spot it in the avalanche of paper that can accumulate on my desk. It helps if you can carry the notebook around when you go out, so pick a size that suits you, whether it needs to go in a pocket, purse, or computer bag. Many of my best ideas and insights happen after I’ve stepped away from the keyboard.
Do you have notebook love? What is your current favorite notebook? Describe it in the comments below.
For more NaNoWriMo tips, check out Three posts to keep the words flowing.
The more I write scenes, the more aware of my surroundings I become. In “The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer,” Sandra Scofield says that, “the incidental movements and activities of characters help to define them, and the things they surround themselves with and use are part of who they are….What they do in response to events can be external signs of what they are feeling.”
We don’t want to interrupt the flow of a scene or dialogue by filling the scene with unnecessary detail but we do want enough detail to have our characters feel grounded in space and time and, if possible, we want to use details that can show who the characters are. Read more
One of the best things about traveling is the anticipation before the trip. Another is reliving the memories later.
If travel is on your agenda this summer (or winter depending on where you live), it’s a perfect opportunity to write a travel diary. You’ll capture memories of your holiday and likely return with material you can turn into stories, poems, or maybe even a travel story you can sell.
Pack these travel writing tips for your next trip:
1. Observe and write with all your senses. Note the scents as well as sights. Record what you hear. Once when I was traveling through a village in southern Greece, I saw an older couple walking up the road with a flock of sheep. When I remember that trip, I hear the ringing of the bells that were attached to their collars. If I hadn’t gotten out of the car to photograph the couple, I wouldn’t have heard the sound. Read more
With the new year almost here, it’s a prime time to get into the practice of keeping a journal. By creating a journaling discipline, you’ll find you establish routines in other areas of your writing life. Below are three previous posts about how journaling can further your writing and storytelling mojo:
“Three ways to unleash your inner journaler:” if you’re trying to decide what kind of journal you want to keep, check out these tips.
“Record significant daily events in the 5-Minute Journal:” discover this app for recording significant daily events, ideas for writing projects, or character traits that you notice while out in public.
“My favorite writing journals“ is a fun post on some of my favorite types of journals.
I was on a reorganizing binge recently and realized I had way too many notebooks, even for me, a notebookaholic. They’re full of notes from writing workshops and observations about life that I felt compelled to write down in case I could turn them into a story or poem. My next rainy day project is to review them and pull out the ideas to spark some new writing. If you’re like me and love journals, you might like these blog post from our archives.
A twist on the writer’s journal: The commonplace book is another approach to creating a journal.
Writing in a journal is a powerful way to create the bits and pieces that become literature. See how these writers did it.
For excellent tips about using a journal to record our evolution as writers, read, Two great reasons to keep a writing journal.
Today my boss barfed on me his unhappiness at having to come back from vacation. And of course, as my stomach clenched, I couldn’t help but think about what great material I was getting out of the situation.
As writers, we must suffer for our art. As my blood pressure climbed, I watched how his face turned scarlet – noting what was red from the sunburn he’d brought back from his vacation and what was due to his meltdown. Read more
I have a confession to make. I’m a journal-a-holic. It’s serious. It’s bad. I should be ashamed. I don’t always write longhand–often I use my laptop–but when I do write in a notebook or journal I want it to be special.
I’ve always liked bright, shiny things. They make me feel happy. So, naturally, I want a sparkly writing journal. And, because I have several journals going at once for various projects, I use my label machine to make a label for the front cover. (It satisfies my O.C.D).
Below are a few of my favorite journals:
The Spirit of Flight Journal. I have two of these — one for poetry and one for my fantasy book. I like the picture on the outside cover. It reminds me of the protagonist of my next book. Read more