Monday, 16 April 2012

N is for Notebook

Welcome to letter N in my A-Z series "26 Things that Made Me a Writer".

I think most of us would agree that notebooks are one of our best friends as a writer. They can be carried around easily and there's no reason to ever forget a good idea. My relationship with them has evolved over the years, though. When I first started keeping one with me at uni, I was quite ostentatious with it, sitting scribbling away at parties as if hoping to come across as some kind of intellectual.

Now I am surrounded by more down-to-earth types (like my family), I tend to do all my note-taking in secret as I feel slightly self-conscious about doing it in front of others. Maybe it's because I'm now taking my writing seriously so my ideas feel much more personal to me, rather than in my student days when it was more about projecting some sort of image.

Actually these days I don't tend to carry a notebook around because I usually let an idea roll around for a couple of days and think about different directions it could go, or I'll wait until I've got two or three ideas and write them all down (any more than that and some would get lost). Also it's that feeling weird about getting my notebook out in public. Maybe I could start doing them as text messages.

After things are written down they tend to be forgotten for the time being. I'm hoping I'll find a nice surprise when I go through them all after I've finished this book and I'm looking for my next idea!

Do you carry a notebook? Do you have to write ideas down straightaway, or let them percolate first?

Oh, and sorry for not being around that much at the weekend. Between being out and about with the kids, getting organised for our holiday at the end of the month, and keeping on top of the housework (meh), I've been a bit behind on comments. Hoping this week will be better!

Can't believe I now have over 200 followers though, with the last 50 added during the Challenge - that's incredible! Thanks to all of you. A giveaway will definitely be in order after April, so watch this space!

40 comments:

Michelle Pickett said...

First, I love the theme you've chosen for the A to Z challenge. It's interesting to read the different things that made you, and others, a writer.

Yes, I do take notes right away. Otherwise I'm sure to lose them. I don't carry a notebook. I do have hundreds of scraps of paper and notes on envelopes in my purse. :) I actually carry a little digital voice recorder. When I get an idea I just record it and then listen to it back when I get home. I do feel a little odd doing it in public, but I do if I have a particularly great idea or breakthrough.

Great topic!
Michelle
www.michelle-pickett.com/blog

Kern Windwraith said...

Oh, my. Notebooks. I have a passion for notebooks, as it happens, and yes, indeed, I do carry one. Sometimes two. Okay, if I'm being totally honest, here, sometimes three: one for the WIP, to jot down notes, scribble down scenes, work out problems; one that I use to jot ideas for blog posts, copy random bits of dialogue I find appealing, and for the odd bit of journalling; and the third is a much smaller notebook that I can tuck into my smallest purse so that I have something to write in even when I'm not schlepping around a bigger bag.

Well, you asked. :)

Trisha said...

I don't carry a notebook, really, but I often wish I did! I tend to write things down on tiny scraps of paper that get easily lost.

I'm sure you'll find something inspiring in your notebook after you've finished your current work!

Cynthia said...

Like you, I used to carry a notebook around but back then, I made sure my notes were short and vague so if someone found the notebook, they wouldn't have a direct portal to all my ideas and private thoughts. Today I keep a notebook at home and write in it a little more freely but only on rare occasions- now I let my ideas grow in my head for a bit before I write anything down.

Kyra Lennon said...

I never carry a notebook, never have. I used to scribble ideas down on the backs of receipts until I got my iPhone lol. Now I use the Notes app instead. :D

Sarah Pearson said...

I carry a notebook now because I got sick of writing on bus tickets and receipts and all the rest of it :-)

And don't worry about being behind, I think we all are :-)

Lynda R Young said...

I try to remember to carry a notebook with me wherever I go. The days I forget to are the days I get a brilliant idea. I think I'll remember it, but I don't. ;)

Huntress said...

Notebooks, spirals, sticky notes, looseleaf, newspaper, and those little slips of paper they put in magazines...yep, I use them all.

Martin Willoughby said...

I don't have one as I find I rarely use it and it's just more clutter. The fact that I work from home most days and rarely see the sun has nothing to do with it.

Nick Wilford said...

Michelle - I cringe at my own voice so not sure that would work for me! Good idea, though. Yeah, it is more scraps of paper for me than an actual notebook - as a man I don't carry a bag (!) so there's enough in my pockets already with keys, wallet, phone, so that's the main problem with it...

Kern - Sounds like you're very organised! I'm all mixed up - I have blog ideas on the same bits of paper as story ideas. If I have an idea relating to my WIP, I add it to the pages of notes I already have on it (and sometimes that involves crossing out and changing what's already there).

Trisha - My scraps used to be everywhere but now I've started collecting them in a folder (that no one is allowed to look at - I didn't like people finding them and going, "What is this?!) :)

Cynthia - Sounds like you were very precious about guarding your ideas - I can understand that! Like I said, I like to let them develop for a bit now too first.

Kyra - Sounds like an iPhone would be great for me - I'm jealous! I have more than a few receipts with notes on.

Sarah - Yeah, sometimes there is very little room to write on those with all the stuff already printed on - not ideal!

I'm back at work on my WIP now after the school holiday so that's taking up my mornings, but the writing has to come first right?!

Lynda - I've forgotten ideas occasionally, but a bit of concentrated thought usually managed to bring them back! A tip is to try and remember what you were thinking at the time or what you saw/heard that sparked the idea.

Huntress - Whatever comes to hand, eh? Good that those annoying adverts and stuff that fall out of magazines get put to good use!

Martin - Ah, another man that understands the annoyance of not having handbags... I'm at home too so that does help, I guess!

DEZMOND said...

in this modern age, I think notebooks are losing battle to electronic ones :), and even I, as a literary translator, have lost touch with manual writing :( but there is something very nice in carrying a little notebook with you and scribbling away in it :)

Shelley Sly said...

I do a lot of note-taking on my laptop, though occasionally I'll brainstorm in a notebook. I have several different notebooks, though, so I don't have just one that I use.

Tobi Summers said...

When I was in high school, I got into the habit of writing my stories in 5-subject notebooks. The first section was for characters, the second for plot, the third and fourth for the story, and the fifth because, every time you have a notebook, someone inevitably asks for you for paper. I still started them for my current WIPs, but I tend to do more of my note-taking in the memopad on my phone now, and more of my writing directly on the computer (because I learned that I'm not patient enough to transfer stories from the notebook to the laptop).

Elise Fallson said...

I've tried using a notebook, but I always ended up forgetting or misplacing it. lol. Nowadays, when an idea pops into my head I scribble it down on what ever I have on hand, paper receipts, scrap paper, torn up paper bags, tissue (not the best), even my hand!

Liwi said...

I usually do carry a little notebook or at least a calendar since if I don't I forget....everything. Literally everything. Sending me to the grocery store without a list is also impossible. And I've started keeping a notebook next to my bed as well cause I get the weirdest ideas before I go to sleep. Some make perfect sense at night and when I read it the next morning I'm like...what was my brain doing? The other day I 'invented' this game that consisted of taking people's shoes off and I distinctively remember half asleep me thinking THIS IS SUCH A GREAT IDEA. It wasn't a great idea after all. Bottom line: notebooks are great.

Susan Roebuck said...

I try to have one important, big, notebook and lots of little ones I can scribble in. If there's anything of importance in the little ones, I transfer it to the big one (making sense? I didn't think so...). I also have a little notebook by my bed so I don't forget anything come morning.

Mina Burrows said...

I used a ton of notebooks in the beginning. Now, I moved over to digital note taking. It works best for me. :)

Hart Johnson said...

I LOVE notebooks. In college I just used the back of my class notebooks, but often had more personal notes than class notes. I have to write ideas right away or I lose them--my memory stinks. So I have a notebook in my backpack and in the bathroom (for ideas that come in the shower or while sleeping--can't write in bed--no light and a hubby who gets crabby when I do something strange in bed--so long if he thinks i've just gone to the loo, all is good.

I also plot and do about half my writing in a notebook... LUUUURVE them...

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've got notebooks all over the house - some are for general ideas or for writing exercises like prompts, etc. I have a notebook dedicated to whatever novel I'm working on. I also carry a small one in my bag to jot down things I come across while I'm out. (I sometimes use my phone for that but I find I reach for my notebook first.) :)

Jay Noel said...

I keep a black notebook, but it's spiral so I can keep it open and flip the pages back. Those theme books are frustrating to write in sometimes!

Gotta take notes when an idea comes to mind. Otherwise, poof! It's gone.

Eric W. Trant said...

I have that exact composition book, but a pocket-sized version of it. On the front it reads Eric's Little Ocean, and it has many of my ideas that morphed into stories of all sizes. I also have some key points regarding writing that I reviewed not too long ago.

It's worth reviewing your notes, esp. after six or eight years have passed.

The last entry in it will be my next book. I wrote it down even though I didn't have to. Like you stated, I write down less than I used to, and find I usually don't need to write down the good ones at all.

- Eric

Jessica Salyer said...

I have a notebook that I carry around in my purse. If I get an idea I tend to jot down a few things about it quickly.

Jessica Salyer said...

Oh and congrats on your followers!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't carry one around but I do use a notebook sometimes to wrote. Like you, I like the idea form in my head before I commit anything to paper.

Morgan said...

Congrats on the followers! (You do have a fab blog) And I've never been a notebook girl... perhaps I should try it. I do jot down notes on my phone though, which I guess is relatively the same thing. :D

Susan Oloier said...

I do carry a notebook in my purse. I started doing it when I was a columnist, and it has stayed with me. But I usually jot things down in the car or in discreet places. I like the idea of texting an idea to yourself/myself. I have to write things down right away or I forget them. Then I want to kick myself for losing a "great idea". Congrats on over 200 followers.

Nick Wilford said...

Dezmond - Yeah, I think it is nice, even if sometimes I struggle to read my writing!

Shelley - Never thought to use the laptop for notes. But I can see how it would be handy to have open alongside your WIP.

Tobi - You were organised at a different level in school! Wish I'd been like that. I couldn't write a whole story in longhand first, either.

Elise - I would always lose mine too - in fact once I washed a pair of jeans with a notepad in the back pocket... luckily I'd hardly written in it!!

Liwi - I don't get ideas so much before going to sleep as actually in dreams. Unfortunately, I can hardly ever remember them!

Susan - No, that makes perfect sense! Then you have all the good stuff in one place.

Mina - Whatever works!

Hart - Sounds like you're organised for every situation!

Madeline - Another organised person - I feel put to shame. My notes for my WIP consist of two sheets of A4 and an envelope - I realise a notebook would be neater!

Nick Wilford said...

Jay - Spiral sounds like a good idea.

Eric - Sounds like your notebook is dear to you. I don't have any notes older than five years. Yeah, if it's a really good idea, it's going to stick with you and nag to get written!

Jessica - Thank you! I don't write things down straight away, like I said, because I take a little time to come up with the best version of the idea.

Alex - I'm the same - sometimes they are very vague at first and it takes a while to bring them into focus, if that makes sense?!

Morgan - Thanks very much! Yeah, phone works, although scribbling it down is much quicker for me than writing a text!

Susan - Ah, another "discreet" note taker - I was a journaliat too and didn't mind taking notes in front of others, but that was in an "official" capacity - whereas now, no one knows I'm a writer!

Gina Gao said...

My notebooks are absolutely filled with my ideas for what I want to write. This is a great post.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Tim Riley said...

I don't have a notebook to record ideas. I write down ideas on scraps of paper and throw them on my nightstand. When I come across the ideas later, some still sound good, and some get tossed.

Chuck said...

Nick, the challenge seems to do wonders for writers, I am glad you are growing. Hell I'm here and not even a writer.

And I had two ideas for my S post this morning before I got out of bed. I figured I would percolate them while showering...now I sit here in the evening trying to remember what they both were! Should have wrote them down when I got up obviously.

kmckendry said...

I have lots of notebooks, but I can never remember which ideas I've put in which ones! I do also text notes to myself if I'm out and about.

Congrats on the 200 followers!!

Mel said...

I'm the type who has to write the idea down immediately. If I don't, then I'll more than likely forget it. Terrible, I know. I'm glad I ran across your blog during this challenge and can't wait to see what else you have in store!

C.B. Wentworth said...

I have a notebook for everything! In fact, one of the ways I realized I was a writer, was when I woke up one day and realized I had 6 notebooks sitting on my desk. And there were more in the bookshelf. :-)

It's only getting worse, too. There are notebooks upstairs, downstairs, and in my messenger bag.

Nick Wilford said...

Gina - I know, me too - now it's just getting the time to write them all, eh? :)

Tim - It's amazing how you can read a note that sounded great at the time but now you think "What the...?!"

Chuck - I'm so glad I did the Challenge! Made loads of friends!

So percolating is not always a good thing...

Kathy - Thanks! That's why I keep all my notes in one file, even if it is a very messy one.

Mel - You know, I forget a lot of things (such as phoning the plumber) but with ideas... they stick with me! Enjoying your blog too and your Scotland-based leanings.

C.B. - Yep, think those notebooks were definitely telling you something!

Nick Wilford said...

Gina - I know, me too - now it's just getting the time to write them all, eh? :)

Tim - It's amazing how you can read a note that sounded great at the time but now you think "What the...?!"

Chuck - I'm so glad I did the Challenge! Made loads of friends!

So percolating is not always a good thing...

Kathy - Thanks! That's why I keep all my notes in one file, even if it is a very messy one.

Mel - You know, I forget a lot of things (such as phoning the plumber) but with ideas... they stick with me! Enjoying your blog too and your Scotland-based leanings.

C.B. - Yep, think those notebooks were definitely telling you something!

Liz said...

I have a notebook now I have reached an advanced age! I'm a poet and used to be able to think of ideas,, play with a few lines and come back home and write them down. Not any more - by the time I'm home every last hint and vestige of the idea have disappeared. Let alone actual lines and words. Sometimes I manage to find a pencil and scribble the odd aid to memory on a receipt or shopping list. Unfortunately, my writing is so bad that my husband gets fed up with me arriving home and asking him - what do you think this says? It can't really say THAT can it? I'm sure it wasn't rude... Is that a C? Or is it a T?

The other thing I do is wake up in the middle of the night with a FANTASTIC idea, really the most heart-wrenching and beautiful lines ever produced by anyone. the next morning, whether i can read them or not, they are always complete and utter balderdash. I'm sad to say that during my sleep I have no inner critic at all.

So now, yes, I do have a notebook with me most of the time to write as clearly as i can anything that occurs to me.

Liz said...

Forgot to say, I'm leaving you my A-Z link as blogger
always identifies me as my shared blog with other poets - my A-Z is this one: http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick .. I'm afraid I have no notebook, diary or journal .. thankfully I have an amazing memory and I have lots and lots of cuttings, newspaper bits and handwritten jots all over the place.

At one stage I was going to use Evernote and never quite mastered it - though I'm sure it's good ...

So my life comes as it picks and choses re my articles - not the A - Z challenge .. I am better organised than last year ..

Cheers - Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

Liz - My handwriting is pretty bad too - I should give out prizes to anyone who can make out any of what's written on my notes in the header up there...

Hilary - Hmm, I don't know Evernote, sounds interesting. I used to have a dictaphone as a journalist, but I would feel awkward speaking into it and the sound of my voice makes me cringe!