Keeping a Writer's Notebook

As I have written almost consistently since I was a child, the notebook has also been a pretty constant companion. At least once every year or two I go through these treasured books and pick out the ideas that stand out.

Even today, when I write most everything on a laptop, I still have a number of moleskin notebooks, generic notebooks, sheets of blank paper and other assorted places where I can write down the things that come to me when I'm not at my desk.

For me, I find the process of sitting down and writing on a laptop wonderful for getting the plot and story on the page, but then comes the rewrite, when I'm looking to surprise my reader on every page and my notebook becomes critical. How is it possible to surprise your reader on every page? Well, it's easier if you expand your reader's vocabulary, which means expanding yours, or through the use of interesting dialog - in my case, this is otherwise known as eavesdropping and modifying conversations heard in the check out line at the grocery, at the coffee shop or library, or finally using simile and metaphors - which means I spend time in nature getting my head in that space where I can let go of day-to-day challenges and instead think creatively.

I would love to say that my notebooks are organized with appropriate headers: quotes, vocabulary, plot ideas, similes & metaphors, but I'd be lying. And sometimes in those notebooks you will find a receipt from a gas station just stuck in between the pages with a brilliant thought.

Bottom line, having a place where you can store precious thoughts is critical for the writer. Ideas that seem unforgettable one day are too often gone the next. I've tried to use computer programs to manage my notes but I've found it just doesn't work as well as my disorganized paper stash-all.    

Where do you write your ideas? Your snippets of conversation? Your precious writer's notes?

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.


Karen Cioffi said...

Jean, I think every writer has a notebook or two, or pieces of paper here and there for sudden ideas or notes. And, it's so true, if you don't jot that idea down quickly, it will quickly be gone. I've started using Notes on my iPhone when I don't have any paper. :)

Sallie Wolf said...

I keep a journal that is a compendium of ideas, projects, sketches, and rough drafts as well as a day-to-day account of what I'm up to. Like you, Jean, I find it is not organized, but I have labeled my now over 200 volumes with a number and dates covered so that I can go back to various periods in my life. I prefer to work by hand for rough drafts and initial ideas--and I retain much better whatever I write by hand than what I type and file in my computer. My journal goes with me almost everywhere I go so I can jot things down wherever I am.

Kathleen Moulton said...

" ...having a place where you can store precious thoughts is critical for the writer". So true!

I also have used my iPhone note app when I've been out walking.

Unknown said...

I can totally relate, Jean. I find journaling a way to express my feelings and emotions in an intimate way. Aspiring writers like me can also benefit a lot from journal writing. You said it right, ..."you can store precious thoughts is critical for the writer." ChatEbooks posted:

Helen Henderson said...

a computer is great for the initial storyboarding or first draft. but like you whhen it comes to the rewrite and poilsh, paper it is. Of course it can be hard to discard those various versions. A folder with several notebooks keeps future projects, potential character names, and even copies of images that might be a future setting.

there is a second journal of emotions, venting, things that happened written at bedside vigils or rare down-time moments. That book no one will evere see, there is a big red sticker on it that says burn without reading. And if they do? Well, I'll be gone and won't have toworry about it.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I have been cleaning out old notebooks and enjoy reading my old notes

How to Sell Your Book in Bulk

  by Suzanne Lieurance Did you know that studies have shown that most self-published authors sell fewer than 200 copies of their book?   Tha...