What’s in a Writer’s Notebook?

Posted on 05/02/2013 by


So this one time? In undergrad? …this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. It’s not. I swear. It’s the answer to a question several people asked after my last post. I mentioned a class where I asked if I could hand in the final assignment on the first day.

I had more than one class as an undergrad where the assignment was a piece of fiction and I just went home and printed one that was appropriate but there was only one where I had it in my hand.

The assignment was to construct a ‘writer’s notebook’. I read down the list of requirements of what they wanted it to involve, eyed the one in my backpack sidelong and then propositioned my lecturer …in a non-creepy way. Because I’d been keeping one since I was about eleven.

Not all writer’s have notebooks, but a lot of the do, and they come in many different forms. Mine have certainly evolved over the years from random scratch pads, through furry bound and lava covered, ring bound and miniature organisable files. Now they’re completely digital. Partly because I type substantially faster than I write, and it’s easier to carry them around, but mostly because it’s so much easier to search for what you’re looking for.

 Pile of open hand written and hand drawn notebooks.

What’s in a writer’s notebook? Well, it’s different for everyone. Basically it’s ideas, things that you want to remember. Whatever strikes your muse or flips a switch in your brain some way. In my case?

Snatches of dialogue and pieces of story and lines of poetry.

Things overheard, things thought up, things wondered about.

Lines stolen, borrowed, transmuted. Lyrics loved or misheard and misapplied. Sketches, wild interpretations of the world that is or the world that isn’t or the world that might be.

Names and languages, both real and fictional. Conversations never had and dreams half-remembered. Historical facts and the precise way to skin a cat.

Posted in: Kandace, Research