If you are a writer, you should have a writer's notebook where you can collect your ideas. Sure, most of us have a smartphone with great apps where we can write down ideas. But as writers, we should take care of the dying craft that writing by hand is.
It is entirely up to you what to fill your notebook with, of course. However, you should only fill a writer’s notebook with things that will help your writing. Notes on what happened during the day (like a diary entry) shouldn’t enter your writer’s notebook.
How, then, should you use your writer’s notebook? Keep reading to find out.
How to Use Your Notebook
As you get into the routine of filling you writer’s notebook, you will ultimately write, doodle, and paste all kinds of things into your notebook. To prevent it all from ending up in a big jumble — and to make your writer’s notebook as effective as possible — you need to structure it a bit before you begin filling it.
The whole point of the notebook is to make your ideas instantly accessible when you need them. It is, therefore, a very good idea to number all the pages of your notebook before you begin filling it. Create a table of content or an index on either the front or back of your notebook, too. List all the page numbers and then add a title of some sorts to whatever information you have on that page. Do this continuously as you collect information and notes in your notebook.
Why create a table of content or an index? Because as you progress further into your writer’s notebook and add new things, you may have so much content that you forget where you put a specific thing when you’re looking for it. You want to access what you’re looking for instantly so that you don’t lose your focus while writing your manuscript, blog post, articles, or whatever you’re writing.
The list below offer headings to the different ”chapters” you can use in your writer’s notebook. You can also make up your own headings. The choice is yours.
Fill Your Notebook with These 6 Ideas
1 — Collected words. Write down words you come across that you love or want to remember. What does the word mean? How can you use that particular word when writing? Writers spend a lot of time reading to learn the craft, but spend to little time writing down words that spark an interest. Write them down, all of them, and create your own repository of interesting words. You never know when you’ll need just the right one for a project.
2 — Collected quotes. This is similar to collecting words. Whenever you read and come across a phrase that speaks to you one way or another, write it down in your notebook. Writers need inspiration too, so it’s important to write down quotes that inspire you to work hard.
3 — Descriptions. A quick sentence or paragraph of a place where you are or a person you’ve just seen or even the scent of freshly baked cookies. Keep your eyes and ears open when you’re outside, visit new places, and meet new people. Take it all in and describe those things that stand out to you. Those descriptions can be grains of gold later when you don’t know how to describe something, some place, or someone.
4 — Emotions. Describe what you feel like when you’re happy, sad, angry, frustrated, scared, etc. Also describe how other people look and act when they feel different emotions. Having descriptions of emotions and actions caused by those emotions can help you get authentic when you describe the emotions of your characters.
5 — Names for characters. Keep a list of names for characters, a list that you can keep adding to. I usually add a note of the origin of the name and what it means too, just because I am interested in the meanings of names.
6 — Newspaper clippings. Paste interesting clippings from newspapers, or other kinds of articles, into your notebook. Things that happen in the real world can be great resources for stories. It can also add a sense of realism to your story (if that’s what you want).
What Kind of Notebook to Use
I personally love Moleskine notebooks and don’t mind that they cost a bit extra. The inspiration I get when I just look at a Moleskine is worth more. I also have two notebooks that I usually use: one smaller that I can take with me everywhere (because you never know when inspiration and ideas come to you), and one bigger that I have at home when I feel like brainstorming or just feel like writing down something bigger (a scene, a vivid description of a setting, a part of the backstory of a character, etc.). Again, the choice is yours.