Like falling in love, moments that announce themselves as your subject are rare, and there’s a magic to them. Ignore them at your own peril- Dani Shapiro

Notebooks are how you capture those rare, magical thoughts, ideas, moments.

It has never been quite clear to me whether I continuously start new notebooks because I am disorganized or if I make myself less organized by having too many notebooks. It’s a mystery. Either way, though,  I have to admit that notebooks are my addiction. I don’t know how to stop at one. At any given time I have three or four on the go, and I’m never sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Can one have too many notebooks?  Sigh. Probably.

It all started with one notebook.  One notebook, divided into sections. Ideas. Exercises. Quotes. Notes from reading. That kind of thing. But then, it got all too chaotic. One section gets filled and runs into another section. Okay, I think. Maybe I’ll start a new notebook. Here’s how that goes:

  1. A notebook for my morning pages—my stream-of-consciousness writing. A great way to get ideas, by the way.
  2. A steno-pad-type notebook that I can carry in my purse. This is for observations. Capturing ideas while out and about. Writing down a snippet from a conversation so that I don’t forget. Or perhaps a description of a unique character I just spotted.
  3. A journal for my character. What I mean is, a journal written from the point of view of my character. Okay. I’ll admit, that only lasted for about a month and then I started using it for other random exercises and yes, morning pages.
  4. A notebook divided into Problems/Solutions and Themes for notes taken while reading through my manuscript prior to getting started on revisions.
  5. Okay, there is another one. I have chosen to start a new novel idea by writing random scenes, snippets, story ideas for this kernel that is yet to fully take shape, but that I don’t want to type into the computer at the moment.
  6. And yes. I thought a notebook strictly for book reviews would be a good idea.

It seems like a little overkill. I’m sure I should be able to simply write everything in one notebook and just keep going, Only, it never works out that way!

I guess there isn’t a right or a wrong way to keep “a notebook” for your writing. If, on the other hand, you aren’t sure what to put in your notebook, I hope the above has provided some inspiration.

Oh, and blog ideas! I should have a notebook for blog ideas…

Did I mention that I also write in a journal?

Yeah, I should probably get help!


Happy Writing!


Published by Lois Donovan

Author of historical time travels, THE JOURNAL and WINDS OF L'ACADIE, Lois is in demand as a speaker/presenter at literary conferences and young writers' conferences and teachers conventions. Lois grew up primarily in Riverview, New Brunswick, but has called Calgary home for many years. Currently, Lois enjoys life in Calgary with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law.

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