#SOL23: Writer’s Notebook

Today was Day 29 of A 30-Day Writing Habit 2023

A Mary Oliver quote, “The Poet Always Carries a Notebook”. Link

This Grant Snider Comic. Link

And then QuickWrites for 3 topics from earlier writing.

All three of my topics centered on notebooks.

I’ve come to writing notebooks lately. I had a diary once upon a time. I wrote in it often, but it was not a daily habit. I write more consistently now, but in a variety of notebooks. I leave one in a bag and then scramble for another notebook to write in. I don’t have a series of neatly numbered notebooks on my shelf. I have many notebooks stacked in a pile. Most have some dates on the cover. Most of the years from 2014 to the present are recorded on the covers of at least one notebook. Some years have multiple notebooks. Few are used from front to back in their entirety. Many have been used for demonstrations for writing work with students and teachers.

I pick one up and thumb through it. I appreciate the table of contents. I can locate writing topics and find ideas that I want to revisit. Other notebooks are not so user-friendly. I want a control F search feature. But that doesn’t exist.

And some . . .

seem to consist of lists or notes. Worthy writing endeavors but not writing notebooks.

Does a Writer Need to Keep a Writing Notebook? was the title of one of my Quick Writes.

Should I Keep a Writer’s Notebook? was another Quick Write

and the final was Pros and Cons of Writer’s Notebooks

Keeping this habit going is going to require that my process is replicable, easy to access, consistent, and re-visitable. How will I pull topics from my Kindle Scribe? I can email notebook pages to myself and collect them in a file. Or two. Or three. Is that efficient? Effective?

Why do you keep a writer’s notebook? How do you revisit ideas/topics? What’s your medium/platform?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

10 responses

  1. Fran, amazing topic! I have a serious writers’ notebook habit. I scour the shelves of Marshall’s looking for the marked-down Moleskine multi packs in all sizes and buy them whether I need them or not. The day I was happiest about this addiction was the day at NCTE when Bryan Ripley Crandall strolled by as we were having a morning writing gathering and I was able to take one of my blank small Moleskine Chapter notebooks, an envelope-sized notebook, and toss it his way since he had no idea we’d wrangle him into writing with us and was paperless at the time. I love the spontaneity of ideas and find notebooks so helpful for capturing these. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about ideas a lot like lost dogs – if you don’t do something with it, it’ll run off to somebody else. I use mine to get ideas, develop them, and rough draft poetry. I can’t wait to revisit the post tonight and see all the responses your invitation gleans today!

    1. Thanks, Kim. I am definitely a collector. Notebooks call to me. But I’m a ” work in progress”!

  2. I love notebooks and have been a nearly daily notebooker the last few years. Right now I have four- my school business notebook (meeting notes, etc.), my school demo notebook, my pd notes notebook (includes pd book notes and ideas for teaching), and my daily notebook that serves 101 purposes, depending on the day. I squally have at least one mini notebook nearby in case I need one, and I take notes on my phone as well. Organization? Mmmm, yeah, I could do better there…

    1. Erika,
      I’ve so longed to figure out an electronic notebook format. I’m just not a paper person anymore. So now I need to just organize my electronics! Hmmm.

  3. Fran, I was planning before I even read your slice today about how I used the notebook I “WON” at the slicers gathering from YOU at NCTE22. I used it in January during the 3-Saturdays of the Black History Institute I participated in with Sonja and Colleen. It is now FILLED with so many great notes from them sharing their brilliance and I can always find it because I think of it as the notebook from Fran!!

    I ALWAYS have a notebook. I have a daily one I keep in my purse to jot and make To Do Lists and include diary-like entries when I am trying to figure out why I am feeling the way I feel. I have others, like the lovely one you gifted me, to hold notes related to events, like NCTE and TCRWP. I dream about taking a week to read through them ALL, maybe make a plan to add table of contents or lift favorite lines. But for now, I just keep them on a shelf togehter. Notebooks…I never leave home wothout having one!
    NO wonder we are friends. I like the new screen backgrounds, too!!

    1. Sally,
      The stationery dept with notebooks always calls to me. A siren of sorts. The possibilities encourage me to purchase just one more. And inevitably a notebook is misplaced for a bit. Never a crisis; always confusing as it seems to be the least ordered part of my life.

  4. I too, love notebooks and have several going. My daily notebook I try to write in every morning, my school notebook that I take to meetings and jot ideas it, my mini notebook in my purse for ideas/emergency thoughts. But, how to organize them? I struggle with that. I do write the dates on the outside cover and line them up on my bookshelf. It’s a fun adventure when I have time to grab one and look at what my thoughts were years ago. I just jotted your Mary Oliver quote in my notebook!

    1. Thank, Jill.
      My notebook anxiety is calming but the struggle to organize remains strong.

  5. Fran, one can never have too many notebooks. They need to be scattered throughout the house because you never know when something strikes you that must be written down. Different notebooks might be used for different things. They also provide us with a history of ourselves when we go back and reread what was going through our minds at different stages of our lives.

    1. I love that this has been the message loud and clear today. It has felt so disorganized to have multiple notebooks and that frustration often ends up wirh a cluttered mess of writing detritus.
      And yet, I do enjoy seeing change over time!!!!

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