Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Writing Rituals: The Writer's Notebook

Any writer worth his or her salt keeps a notebook. Most are particular about what kind. I know I am. Mine has to be spiral bond, size 5x7”, with lined paper and a pocket. The cover should be heavy card board because I discovered the plastic ones might not look tattered after a while, but they get warped. I used to have the larger size 6x9 but downgraded to the 5x7 size when I switched from carrying a heavy leather tote to a small leather backpack as a purse. The notebook has to fit. It comes with me at all times.
The oldest goes back to 2004. They all live stacked on a shelf, a record of my life: ideas for essays, notes from lectures, lists of books to read and literary journals to check out, drafts of essays, to-do lists for vacations planned or meetings to organize, random phone numbers or quotes I liked, even the odd shopping list, although those are rare because my husband does the grocery shopping in our family. Whenever we have to wait around somewhere, my younger son now relies on my notebook to have a page to draw in.
The old (left) and the new (right).
I’m in between notebooks right now as one is full and the other needs to take off. This means I carry both around for a while as I always need to leaf back through the old one to find ideas or lists, or transfer them to the new one. Some crucial info is always stuck in the pocket, so needs to be moved. Invariably, transitioning notebooks means I have sit down and review the old book, and this is really a joy. I get to dip into my own stream of consciousness and rediscover ideas or references I had already forgotten. I organize old ideas into new lists, and I also have the satisfaction of ripping out old to-do lists. And then I have to say good-bye to my daily companion of months, and put it on top of the other notebooks, to be taken down once in a while when I need to recover an old idea, and recover my former self.
What kind of notebook do you keep?


  1. Ah, confession time. I do not keep a notebook. Several of my children write and they all have either notebooks or laptops with them at all times. They'll be happy to know the are right on target! ;-D

    Found you through Blogathon 2011.

  2. Kate, glad you found me through the Blogathon! As long as your kids have their writing materials I guess you can write in their notebooks, just like my son writes in mine...

  3. For me, it's a small spiral notebook, just for jotting down ideas or leads. Otherwise, I rely memory if I start composing a passage in my head while out and about . . .

    (And, yes, I'm a Blogathoner, too!)

  4. ah yes...the infamous notebooks...my shelves are crammed with them...some half filled...some fully filled...all dogeared.