5 Resources on Keeping Writing Notebooks

How to Keep a Writing Notebook: A Peek into the Notebooks of Famous Writers & Thinkers

Links and info galore.

“In Joan Didion’s essay on why she keeps a notebook, she writes, ‘How it felt to me: that is getting closer to the truth about a notebook…Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point.’

Ultimately, a notebook is a portable laboratory where we can record our own unique perspective on the world, jot down the things in our lives that awaken our Muse, and experiment with new ideas.” Read more

Morning Pages (from Julia Cameron)

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.” Read more (with video)

Never Be Blocked: Keep a Writer’s Notebook

“Such a notebook may include observations, ideas, notes about projects, emotions, overheard dialogue, dreams, ‘what-I-did-today’ accounts, notes kept during a trip or to record a particular harrowing experience such as a home renovation. Whereas in our pre-teens we might have written, ‘Today I went to the doctor,” a writer’s notebook may contain a description of the attendant at the parking lot, the medical assistant’s odd questions, the doctor’s attitude, physical details about the office itself, and/or an account of the discomfort of the procedure performed. Read more

On Keeping a (Writing) Notebook (or Three)

“In my ‘official’ writing notebook I jot down ideas for writing projects, make lists for writing projects, and write sketches of writing projects. Often I’ll start writing towards a draft but without any sense of where I’m headed. Writing by hand takes the pressure off: I can’t send ripped-out notebook pages to The New Yorker. But when a piece moves from my notebook to my computer and eventually (sometimes) to publication, I can see that long passages are often exactly the same as when I wrote them by hand the first time.” Read more

The Writer’s Notebook: A Place to Dream, Wonder, and Explore

This pdf from the National Council of Teachers of English is designed for classroom teachers but offers plenty of inspiration for writers of all ages. The main article is by my hands-down favorite author about encouraging young writers: Ralph Fletcher.

“The first few days of school I model with my own notebook, showing students my pages covered with words, quotes, drawings, and lists. I keep it close by for easy jotting. I also surround my students with wonderful literature —poetry, memoir, and nonfiction. As we do our read-alouds, students might pull out their notebooks to write down a line they love, an idea that’s been triggered, a snip of conversation, or just about anything.” Read more


DIY Summer Writing Retreat graphicThis post is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.

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