Nicole J. Simms

Notebooks – A Writer’s Best Friend

Post date: 9th September 2015

Notebooks – A writer’s best friend

There are many things that a writer will need on their writing journey, but one item that is possibly the most important is the notebook.

When you give yourself permission to write, you will find that ideas will start pouring out of your head. Some will be ideas for stories, characters, plots for a novel, a metaphor, a simile. The list is endless. It can be tricky to remember them all, especially when you get an idea for a new story, so what do you do with all of those ideas? The answer is simple. You keep them in a notebook.

Some writers will only use one notebook to jot down all their ideas, thoughts, observations, etc. and others, like me, have multiple notebooks, with each one assigned a role. There’s no right or wrong way to use a notebook. All you need to do is find the right way for you.

My notebooks

Since I like to use multiple notebooks, I will be sharing with you what I use each notebook for, and how they have benefited me over the years. So, let’s start with my first notebook. Before I committed to my writing journey, I took some free creative writing courses (see previous posts), and for a course titled, Endless Story Ideas I had an assignment where I had to start an Idea Journal. This Idea Journal would be where I wrote all of my story ideas from flash fictions to novels. I’m currently on my second Idea Journal (see photo, third from the left). I have found this notebook the most useful when I need to write down an idea before I lose it, especially if I don’t have time to work on the story right away, and when I’m stuck for ideas. Recently, I needed to come up with a story idea for a submission call, so I returned to my idea journal, and there was a story idea waiting for me.

My second notebook (see photo, second from the left) is called My Observation notebook. When I started writing, I noticed that the sense I focused on the most was sight, so to solve this problem, I created observation charts inside this notebook, and when I went to new locations (or even old), I would sit and note down what I saw, heard, felt, tasted, and smelt. I would focus on the smaller details, which I noticed, rather than the bigger details. For example, when I did a chart for a pub, I mentioned the stickiness of the table, the stains on the beermats, the black marks on the carpet, and the stale beer odour. I often go back to these charts when I’m describing a location because it helps to make a setting feel more real to me and to the reader.

My third notebook (see photo, first from the left) is my writing journal. This is what I call my fancy notebook. It’s hardback and has quality ivory paper. I use this notebook to write down any metaphors or similes that pop into my head. I also use this notebook to express my thoughts and feelings. I often like to sit on my bed and look out of my bedroom window while I write in this notebook.

My final notebook (see photo, fourth from the left) is for my writing group assignments. It makes it easier to know what to bring on a weekly basis if everything is in one place. As you can see from the photo, I will soon need a new one.

So there you have it, my notebooks. Wherever I go out, I always like to carry one of them with me because you never know when inspiration might strike. The one I carry around the most is the Idea Journal, but I’m happy as long as I have a notebook with me.

If you’re new to writing, or even if you have written for years, a notebook is a valuable tool, and whether you have one or many, it is something that every writer should have.

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