I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with notebooks. Moleskines, compositions, spiral-bound, leather, it doesn’t matter! I’ve been collecting and using notebooks since I can remember, and while I’ve managed to rein in my collection over the last few years, I still have plenty of empty notebooks to use up. What’s a girl to do with so many blank pages?
Start a writer’s notebook!
What is a writer’s notebook? A writer’s notebook is where a writer can keep all of her ideas, prompts, random stories, and other inspirational content. In other words, it’s a place to keep your inspiration (loosely) organized.
Click here to read more about making the most of your writer’s notebook.
// What to Include in Your Writer’s Notebook
There are no formal rules for a writer’s notebook as it’s all about what you find inspirational, important, and relevant. However, you should absolutely include things that get your brain moving and makes you think. Here are some things I like to include:
- Names I like (for character creation)
- Writing prompts I find online
- Short stories I create
- Overheard conversations
- Newspaper clippings
- Fortunes from fortune cookies
- Doodles and drawings
I don’t record in my notebook every day, but when something stick with me or it’s something I want to remember, I jot it down. Many of the images, stories, and other snippets don’t make it into a blog post or my novel, but a writer’s notebook is a gold mine. It’s something you can go back to when you’re stuck.
Here are some of my favorites in my current journal:
- A quote someone posted in a freelancer Facebook group: “A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.”
- This Foo Fighter’s lyric: “How could I forget you painting stars into the sky?”
- An old fortune cookie slip: “Your tongue is your ambassador.”
- A fragment from a piece I wrote in college; it was the first time that professor told me I exceeded at showing, not telling: “Muggy Florida air beats against us when we exit the garage. His black Corolla is humid inside and smells like bubblegum mixed with sweat. I wrinkle my nose and kick at the pile of empty Gatorade bottles on the passenger side floor.”
I even keep track of things for my blog, like new blog post ideas, FAQs I get from my Facebook group, and even my 1st business birthday giveaway.
// Benefits of a Physical Writer’s Notebook
One word: offline. Getting a physical notebook to jot down your inspiration isn’t for everyone, but being offline is beneficial. It’s away from the distractions of the Internet (looking at you, Pinterest) and a safe place to store your thoughts in the event the Internet is down or your cloud account didn’t back up properly.
I love technology as much as the next millenial, but even apps like Evernote, Scrivener, and Google Docs don’t help me keep track of my inspiration. Word processors and apps are great for writing first drafts and to do lists, but nothing locks down your creativity like an old school notebook.
//Your Next Steps
Do you keep a writer’s notebook? If so, what do you include? What inspires you? Comment below or tag me on social media with the hashtag #thewriteplan to talk about all things writer’s notebooks!
And don’t forget to join the Writer’s Nook, a Facebook group for writers and bloggers to network, share ideas, and offer support and advice, and don’t forget to grab your freebie!
Don’t forget to read more about making the most of your writer’s notebook!
// By the Way… Check Out The Write Plan Writer’s Notebook
If you’re in the market for a new writer’s notebook or if you don’t know where to get started, check out The Write Plan, a guided notebook for fiction writers. I developed this notebook to offer both guidance and flexibility for creative writers who want to plan on paper. You can get a copy on Amazon for just $10.99 (USD).
I keep a notebook with me at all times simply because you never know when inspiration will strike. Thank you for sharing!
I did start a new notebook online. Maybe I can add new writer things in it.
I keep a notebook but I don’t use it often enough. I need to be more analogue!
Sometimes analogue is the way to go. 😉 Good luck, Sandra!
Great idea to keep a writer’s notebook, Hannah. Do you methodically go through it, reviewing your notes to decide what to do next? Or do you flip through it when you sit for a writing session and serendipitously choose a topic or phrase as a project starter? I love the collection process and the examples and find myself curious how you refer to it later.
Thanks so much, Ann! Those are great questions. 🙂
It really depends on what stage of the writing process I’m at. I have a section where I keep all of my ideas for nonfiction writing, like my ebooks, courses, and blog posts. If I’ve just finished a nonfiction project, I usually look at my list to decide what to start next. Then, I refer back to it for details about that project as I write.
However, if I just want to write *something*, I usually flip through and read a few pages, seeing what strikes up my creative juices. Sometimes that’s a quote and sometimes that’s a story idea. It just depends on the day!
Hope this helps!
I actually started a Writer’s notebook after reading this post. I tend to start scenes that come to me when I can’t get to my laptop. I love writing down song lyrics that inspire me or my stories. Quotes from authors that stand out to me I jot down to remind myself why I’m doing what I do. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve really enjoyed doing this in my daily life.
I’m so glad to hear that you started a writer’s notebook, Natalie, and that it’s helping you organize ideas and inspiration! If you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out. 🙂
Loved reading you poSt. I do keep a notebook to jot down my inspiration, poems, lyrics,quotes and everything else, since my childhood and now I know how much it is helpful. But can I ask you one thing, how is it helpful for nonfiction writing?how can I use it for that? Though I keep some clippings or cuttings of the real life in cedes and some memories in a scrapbook kind of thing, but never thought of using it in that way, so could you please guide me?
For nonfiction, keeping a list of possible topics is important. I may be visiting with a friend or grandchild when they mention something that would be a great topic to explore. I also keep great lines from novels I read as possible seeds for discussion.
I write everything by hand. My book that i’ve started is all on paper! I love this notebook idea, it keeps all your ideas in one place and you don’t have to worry about internet service, lol
So glad you found this helpful, Luanne! And I totally agree–the internet is great, but it’s always nice to have that offline option. 🙂
This was a fantastic blog post! So informative and inspiring! I have always had some kind of notebook or journal going since I can remember learning to write but I had never dedicated a notebook to just my writing until recently. I have a 5 subject notebook that I have dedicated to the series of books I am currently writing. I put research in the notebook, names, character profiles, the works and I am loving it! Thanks for posting about other things that I could be keeping in it!
So glad you found it helpful, Stormy! ^_^ Happy writing!
I’ve been wanting to start a “real” notebook, something more sophisticated than notes on napkins and scratch paper. You have some great ideas and I can’t wait to explore your free printables.
Hi Linda! I’m so glad the ideas got you inspired. Happy notebook-ing!
Thank you for the reminder Hannah. You added some ideas for use in my dedicated writer’s notebook that will be useful, such as the fortune cookie fortunes, newspaper clippings, and doodles! Just knowing that I have this book to nudge me into writing when I’m not feeling it, helps a great deal.
I’m so glad you got some new ideas for your own notebook, Pam! Happy writing. 🙂
Tho blog was very helpful. Generating ideas is or can be a challenge.
Glad you found it helpful, Sue!
I found your blog very interesting and informative. I only have one tiny criticism…As writers we must be our most own most fastidious of editors. When you spelled “Reign” in Reign in (sic) the word is “Rein in” . Other than that, first class blog.
Thank you for pointing out my typo, Jack. I’ll admit, typos are embarrassing. However, I also think that we owe a little grace to both ourselves and others. After all, to err is human, even when being “fastidious.” 😉 Happy writing!
My brain is super rusted, no joke, and the topic that was able to surface from my brain is what if I write a old fashion fairy tale story or same idea but in modern times? I know it’s clichey ..l man, I can’t even spell anymore LOL, but I don’t think it would attract readers because of being too clichey. What do I do?
Hi Hilda, thanks for your question! I also received your email and will be providing you with a longer answer there. 🙂 For those reading the comments, remember that just because YOU think it’s cliche doesn’t mean readers will. The market tends to follow large-scale trends, such as modernized fairy tales, academia/boarding school stories, and even vampires (from all those years ago). Think of it as a sub-genre rather than a cliche. What’s more important is finding ways to add little twists to your story to make it memorable to readers.
I have tons of notebooks. Like you I have a fetish for notebooks and all office supplies. I use so many different notebooks for ideas, it is crazy. I need to buckle down and put them all in one notebook, instead of a page or three in 30 notebooks. I have more ideas than I can keep up with, but never seem to finish anything b/c something new gets stuck in my brain and I have to work on that idea instead. Ugggg. I have something worse than writer’s block, I am overran.
I think that being overwhelmed by ideas is almost as common as having writer’s block! I hear that a lot from writers. It’s hard to stick with one idea, but it’s possible! You could try combining some of your ideas together, or you could plot out your new idea for later so that you don’t lose the details. Best of luck and happy writing!
I have a lot of workbooks or to say many leftover school notebooks of my children .I have to ask you what can I do to them .These are not smart looking notebooks,like you know rough pages,so I can not use them for writing or driving.Otherwise your idea of general keeping is really good.
I am so glad that I found this article.
I do keep a notebook where I put down plot ideas, memories that I want to remember. I describe situations that are intriguing. I also jot down scenes as they come to me and won’t leave me alone. It may sound crazy but I also write down conversations characters are having with each other in my head. I have even found myself talking out loud to see if the conversation sounds realistic as I’m writing it down. To me a character has to sound real in order to bring them to life on the page. I have so many notebooks that it’s ridiculous. Hopefully one day I will be able to find the confidence to actually write a novel and get it published.
I read your article on maintaining a notebook. I feel pleasure 2 inform U that it is being maintained by me. Thanks for reminding me. I enjoyed reading your above contents.
Love a notebook! Keeping one has definitely helped to remember ideas.
This is information is helpful ❤