Every writer has one. Every one is different.
I wrote before about my Magic Writing Notebook(tm) but it occurs to me that some people might be interested in a more in-depth description of what is in it. The notebook itself isn’t really anything particularly special. Black, spiral-bound, with an elastic to hold it closed, most writers have something similar that they keep nearby. I chose mine because it felt nice in the hand and had an impression of a quill on the front, which I felt was nice and writerly. When this one is filled up, I will happily move onto a different book, keeping this one purely for reference. After all, the important bits are all the stuff that is inside.
But what is inside, you ask? Well, quite simply: very nearly everything except the kitchen sink. In fact, the only thing not in The Notebook, and which will never be in the notebook, are first drafts of stories. For one thing, this notebook isn’t nearly big enough. For another, my muse flows better when I’m typing. My drafts must always be typed, but ironically I prefer to make notes by hand (even in class I always preferred hand-written notes).
Some writers keep one notebook for each project, or only write down story-related notes in their notebooks. However, some quite famous authors such as Agatha Christie, kept notebooks which were hodgepodges of story-notes, plot ideas, shopping lists, and outlines. After about four pages of my own notebook, I decided I had better follow her excellent example. So, on two facing pages I have notes for a blog post, questions for a character interview (Scarlett Parrish’s Daniel if you must know), two separate shopping lists, a list of books to be read, and some random math problem. Other parts of the book have outlines sandwiched between story ideas and a list of dates which are all next to a set of important phone numbers, which in turn are written between observations of the world around me or some event I was attending.
I have become passionately attached to my notebook in the past few months. Even if I were to give up writing forever (not likely), I would keep my notebook nearby at all times. I feel rather unprepared if I don’t have it with me, even in places where I don’t or can’t take a book to read. I never could get into regular journaling, that thoughtful sitting down every day and writing something coherent out for the next generation to read. However, making notes, having spare but easily accessible bits of paper for lists and phone numbers, and being able to record random interesting thoughts when they come to me is utterly priceless. Besides, if I do become famous some day and psychologists analyze my notebooks as they do Christie’s, I ought to make sure it’s not too easy for them. It’s more fun that way, right? I know it will be for me!
What’s in your notebook?
Currently Reading: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin