“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” — Jack London
I came across this quote from Jack London and it really resonated with me. Writing ideas that came to me would soon be lost to the sands of time. I set out to do some research on how other writers who kept a notebook went about it. The biggest idea I came away with is to make your writer’s notebook personal to you.
With that knowledge, I purchased an ordinary composition notebook at Wal-Mart and went about devising a way to organize it. I first decided that I would jot down the information as it came to me and not to tab it out in sections. In order to do this I came up with a key to label what the page would contain.
LT (Life & Thoughts) – personal stories/events that happened to me, family stories, or thoughts I have on topics
WP (Words & Phrases) – words or phrases I come across that I find interesting and that I may want to work into a story
NHI (News, History, Info) – facts that I may be able to use in a story or that I may want to write a historical fiction or nonfiction story about
SI (Story Ideas) – these pages are to collect ideas that I think would make a good short story or even a possible novel, including a summary and major plot points
F (Freewrite) – this is for smaller pieces of writing, like a scene, dialogue, or ideas that could become part of a larger work sometime
L (Lists) – just a collection of common things (a list of character names, a list of possible titles, etc.)
The writer’s notebook sits in the organizer on the end table next to my recliner with my other writing supplies. If inspiration hits me during the day, I make a note of it in my phone and at the end of each day move it into the notebook.
I started that first notebook back in 2012 and just cracked the pages into Volume Number 7. To me, that’s a goldmine of over 600 pages of stray thoughts to search through for nuggets to use in writing submissions or contests.