On Using Notebooks

I’ve read about writers carrying a notebook everywhere they go and jotting down any random thought they might have about their writing. I once tried this about two years ago. I was all giddy and excited to be writing my first book that I thought it would be a good idea to take a notebook with me everywhere so that I’d have it just in case a thought decided to pop into my head during the course of my day. I used the notebook maybe five times.

I just never really embraced it. I ended up thinking that if something really was of such great importance, then I’d likely just remember it without getting it down on paper. I mean, my memory isn’t leaving me any time soon. So I abandoned the notebook pretty quickly once I realized that it just wasn’t for me. The funny thing is that I used to keep one for blogging ideas that I used way more often than I used the one for my writing. And I still have a note on my phone that I use to put down my blogging ideas. I’ve been using it for months and it has dozens of post ideas stored for my future use. I actually look at it before I write every post.

I’ve never really used a notebook for my own writing, but I’ve used one for blogging. What about you?


On this day in 2014 I published Guest Post: Pantsing vs. Outlining.

 

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103 thoughts on “On Using Notebooks

  1. I have a journal on my bedside table and one in my vehicle. At points I write in them every day, but at other times they might languish for eons before seeing fresh ink. I like having them handy, especially in times when a lot is on my mind, but even more I appreciate going back through them later to see where I’ve come from. While they are personal journals, they often capture ideas for writing too. So, I guess I like them, but am not tied to them.

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  2. I would die without my notebook. I rarely use it for my ‘one’ promising novel…. Okay, scrap that, I have three quarters of a different notebook filled with that novel. I forgot I carried that one everywhere last year as I was writing. I actually don’t use a notebook just for ideas. I use it to write. I do forget things, and trust me, John, you are young. You will start to forget things as your life gets busier and you get older. I love to write by hand, so that’s why I have my notebook. I actually have more written by hand on this one novel than I do typed up on my laptop.

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  3. Carrying a notebook is pointless for me. I come up with those on-the-fly ideas while driving… or when I’m in the shower… or juuussst as I’m falling asleep. In no way does a notebook help in these cases. Usually, once I reach my destination, or get out of the shower, or wake up in the morning, the idea is a half-baked mangled-mess of what it was. I write them down anyway, but they usually take several more days/months/(sometimes years) to fully develop.

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  4. I’m just not the type of person to carry a notebook with me at all times. I try to keep one in each of my various bags and backpacks, but I often leave those at home too. If I do once in a blue moon have it with me when inspiration strikes, I tend to forget it’s there. I’ve mostly made my peace with this, but I shudder to think of all the ideas I’ve lost because of this!

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  5. I used to carry a notebook–now I carry an iPhone. I jot down story ideas in the Notes section then immediately email them to myself so I don’t lose them. And I do it anywhere–I’ll poke my hand out of the shower and do it, wake up in the middle of the night and do it, etc. I have so many thoughts flying through my head all the time, I’d be lost without something to write them down on!

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  6. No notebook. But I do record ideas I have while driving. Because that is when ideas come to me.

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  7. Notebooks do actually come in handy. Sometimes you think of this amazing sentence to start your essay with, but then you have no notebook to write it down, you eventually start forgetting the sentence.
    It’s happened with me a lot of times. my best ideas always come along at the most random moments in the most random places, and then i try to keep them in mind, but then i start to lose words. it’s funny how it happens, but my memory isn’t that great. Maybe phones are a substitute, yes, but i usually forget i jotted anything down on my phone. It’s silly. So yes, for a person like me, notebooks are important ;’)

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    • Essay? Hmmm. We’re different. I could never write an essay with notes or an outline. I didn’t use a single outline for any paper in college. But I think I might be crazy.

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  8. I actually found a use for google docs. I carry my phone everywhere, I think of something and open google docs, after that I can get it from any of my computer locations.

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  9. When I was writing my first book, I wrote my ideas on any piece of paper available: receipts, envelopes, post-its and of course, my trusty notebook. Now for the 2nd I find myself using notes on my phone, printing them off, then putting them in a semblance of order:) Also I have four kids so if I don’t write it down the second I think of it, the thought is gone forever lol

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  10. I use a notebook by my bedside. Inspiration seems to strike me more often at the time I’m in that zone between consciousness and sleep. If I don’t take a few minutes to jot down the idea I’ll lay there all night mulling over the thought, dreading that I’ll forget it in sleep.

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  11. I have a dozens of notebooks and HAVE to have one tucked away in my purse or laptop case at all times! My thoughts are too fleeting and random; I can’t really trust myself to remember even the ideas I get really excited about.

    I swear, texting and driving is not the reason I’ll be ticketed for someday– I’ll be pulled over for jotting down ideas in my notebooks. (Yes, I am guilty of writing epiphanies down at stoplights . . . )

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  12. I write ideas and thoughts on my phone or tablet. It helps a little.

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  13. When I started my book, that’s when I started to keep a journal. A lot of my ideas stemmed from dreams, and I forgot dreams so quickly that I had to write them down. And I am a horribly forgetful person, so regular day to day ideas would escape me as well. If I don’t keep a journal, I would never keep my thoughts straight! Therefore it is with me 24/7.

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  14. I don’t use a notebook all the time for my writing. I mainly like to use a notebook for drafting writing goals and topics I want to blog about in the future. In regards to creative writing specifically, I use a notebook to write poetry 50% of the time πŸ™‚

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  15. Blogging, for me I get my ideas from online sources or just a sub subject off a main post, for my writing off line I do not use anything to write things down. just from memory.

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  16. I have a “plot bunny” notebook of ideas that is in my house. If an idea is strong enough to stick with me and start forming throughout the day, it earns a spot in the notebook. I have separate notebooks for each of my WIPs, most of which are for outlining, research, notes, etc. Although for my current WIP, I’m switching to using Microsoft OneNote. There’s just too much information and I need it very organized in one place.

    However, I NEVER write actual prose by hand. First of all, I don’t want to have to transcribe paragraphs and paragraphs into the computer. But mostly, I don’t write well by hand. The creativity doesn’t work unless I’m typing. I dunno, it’s weird. I don’t like it. So there’s no reason for me to carry a notebook, really.

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    • So you have several notebooks but you don’t carry one with you? That’s…interesting. I have no idea what OneNote is.

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      • Yeah, I have pretty much no desire to write in public. And since I generally work on one thing at a time, most of those notebooks are shelved anyway.

        You might have OneNote if you use Microsoft Office. It’s hard to explain, but it’s kind of like a virtual binder.

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  17. I took a creative writing class that required me to have one. I guess it just stuck with me. I mean I don’t always use it, but I always have one.

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  18. I don’t carry a notebook with me, but I have a notepad on my desk at work. I have a really mundane job, and it’s amazing how much my mind can wander while I’m working. Amazing new ideas will pop into my head and I write them down as fast as I can. I apparently do not have a good memory, because some days by the time I get home and read the ideas, I’ve forgotten them, and get re-inspired by my own notes. I can’t use my phone at work, so having that notepad is the easiest and fastest way to jot down my thoughts!

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  19. Yes, I always have a little notebook with me. Usually it’s just for jotting down ideas quickly if I can’t use my phone to dictate or can’t get to my computer. But it’s just a tiny notebook smaller than my hand. I’ve used it many times in unconventional circumstances. For instance, I was in the middle of church a couple years ago and had a MASSIVE book idea plop into my head. I couldn’t pull out my phone and talk into it in the middle of the quiet church ceremony (and I can’t type that fast on my phone), so I pulled out my notebook really quick and got down the gist of the idea. Then I went back to it when I got home. But if I hadn’t had my notebook, I’m positive I would have forgotten the idea. I’ve forgotten quite a few ideas when I didn’t write them down right away and I’ve kicked myself over each one of them.

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  20. I keep a tiny graph notebook in my purse that I mostly use for doodles, or writing down weird things I see on long car rides. If I ever sit down to write, I always start in a notebook, because I love the feel or a pen on paper. But I typically make a note in my phone if I’m away from the house and have any idea. I do have a ton of notebooks though – I just hoard them because they’re lovely, I don’t really use them to write in. πŸ˜€

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