The writer’s notebook is an elusive ideal for many beginner writers. A book that contains all the answers to every writer’s block, all the ideas for the next classic and all the inspiration one could need to write it all. However, it will never be that, but it can come close.
Notebook, Journal or Binder
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a lined notebook containing all your ideas. A writer’s notebook can come in all shapes and sizes; it doesn’t even have to be a book.
You are noting down your ideas, taking them a bit further with some imagination and perhaps even scribbling some drafts. You are creating a collection of intellectual property that belongs to you and you alone. With that in mind, there’s no harm in taking it further and organising your genius to a whole new level.
There are 3 clear options set out before you.
First, you could go with the notebook.
You can buy a lined book with a hundred or so pages, writer out your ideas, doodle some fancy titles and triple underline your favourite ideas. A classic strategy for any writer’s notebook and an effective one. Having a notebook such as this will increase your chances of finishing a book and finishing it on a good note.
The second option is the journal.
Much like a notebook, you simply buy a small book, but this time with blank pages to allow for a bit more artistic expression. Doodles and scribbles will be scattered throughout in creative glory. Flipping through these ideas will not only amuse you at times, but fill you with inspiration to write or develop more brilliant ideas. It requires a bit more than a notebook, but for the doodlers out there, this is the way to go.
Finally, the third option; the binder.
For those out there brimming with ideas and a journal won’t cut it, or those who wish to bring a bit more organisation to their intellectual chaos, the binder is for you. Having the option to collect, divide and categorise your many ideas can become a hobby almost as enjoyable as writing. It allows for more freedom, more ideas and more OCD levels of planning!
Ideas and Plotting
Speaking of ideas, most of the ideas you will have are plot based.
I recommend sectioning off most of your notebook/journal/binder for plot summaries and drafts. You will find many ideas for novels develop in your mind than the characters and scenes you have in mind as well. With that said, if you are anything like me, you enjoy dabbling with different genres and demographics.
You can have a brilliant idea for an adult thriller or young-adult fantasy. A change in demographic changes the story as much as the genre, in which case, dividing your plots by their age group is just as important as separating them by their genre.
Coloured markers come in handy here!
When flipping through my ideas, looking for some science-fictiony, I keep an eye out for a blue title, as this is the colour I have assigned for the genre. Next, I take note of the tag I have at the end. YA for young adults, A for adults or E for everyone. Sometimes the idea will be vague enough that I don’t tag it with an age group, but those are the ideas that will require more work.
Finally, I recommend you don’t bog down your notebook/journal/binder with many ideas cluttering a single page. New idea, new page, that’s all there is to it.
The next most common ideas you will have pertain to the characters.
Whether it is the dashing rogue who steals everyones heart with their witty lines, or the grim villain who scares you with their actions more than their looks. These are the characters you want to write in everyone of your books, the characters that give you the inspiration to create entire plots around them, rather than characters created from the plot.
These, in short, are the characters you don’t want to forget.
Creating an entire character bio, backstory and perhaps even going as far as naming them, will be the next set of ideas that stock your writer’s notebook. I recommend you take your time when taking note of these characters, revel in their personality, spitball some ideas and see what sticks. Write them down, as much as you wish to and add them to the roster, ready to be called upon when they are needed.
Often enough we are moved by dreams, movies, songs and even our own lives. It can be an incredible moment when it’s true, or an inspiring one if it’s your own imagination at work. Whatever the case may be, it’s something worth reading, therefore, it’s something worth writing.
It will require you to put on your writer’s cap, as you are not simply noting down something interesting, you are describing it for your future self. You want to feel that moment again when you read this page or two, so take your time. A scene now can save you an entire chapter one day, so strike when the iron is hot.
Depending on the writer, scenes may come to mind more than plot ideas, in which case, this will certainly be the larger section of your writer’s notebook. These scenes you might read later and shake your head in disappointment, or perhaps they make you feel all the emotion you felt when you experienced/wrote it.
Finally, this is a pure and personal recommendation from yours truly.
Leave space for what inspired you. There are plenty of moments in your life where the music you are listening to is just perfect for writing a certain genre or scene. Or perhaps, there is a movie or show which fills you with the creative energy to tackle something of the same genre.
Books, shows, music, games, movies and much more fill out lives, inspiring us.
Write down what inspired you and what it inspired you to write. You may not have the opportunity to write it now, but if you need to refind your inspiration, go through what inspired you in the first place. You can’t simply wait for the day where you roll out of bed feeling that childish energy to write, you need to tackle the block head-on.
What better way to write a happy scene than by listening to a song that makes you happy?
To conclude this post, I would like to recommend you write in your notebook as frequently as you can, but don’t stress yourself to write in it because you haven’t written in it in a while.
Inspiration hits at the strangest moments, but when it does, it helps to trap it in ink and paper for later. Bear this in mind and your writer’s notebook will be an invaluable aid for all your work.
On that note, good day, goodnight and happy writing!
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Thank you for reading!
Matthew Dewey, Writer
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