A writer’s notebook is a super helpful tool for any writer, whether they write YA, lit fic, fantasy, romance – whatever. By ‘writer’s notebook’, I don’t technically mean a notebook for writing in. You can obviously write in your notebook but I use a writer’s notebook for storing information, inspiration, scraps of notes etc. A writer’s notebook is the perfect place to cultivate a hoard of inspiration for your writing. Think of it as a one stop shop for a personalised collection of writer tools, cultivated by you, for you. Now I’m heavily emphasising the ‘for you’ so if there’s anything in here you don’t want to do or something you think you’d rather do in a different way – do it! This is meant to be your personal tool, not mine. Now here’s some things you might need:
- Sticky tape
- Motivational or cute stickers
- Fine liners
- Fancy pens
- Washi tape
- Giant paperclips
Now I’m a pretty fussy writer. That line in One Day by David Nicholls about how Emma felt like a fraud because most writers could write anywhere, on anything but she was stuck unless she had her leather bound A5 notebook & a fountain pen… that line is me all over. I do jot down notes on receipts & scraps of rubbish when I’m down the yard with my horses, but when it comes to stationary, I’m super specific about what I will use. I prefer soft covers for notebooks, BUT the spine has to be able to open flat without breaking; & I like my pens to be quite fat & weighty because for some reason it makes my handwriting better [yes I’m fully aware I’m a tad crazy]. So anyway… writer’s notebooks.
Right at the front of my writer notebook, I made a pocket so that if I find anything inspirational – a nice leaf or if I wrote an idea on a scrap of receipt, then I can keep it safe in my notebook until I need it. It’s very easy to do, all you need is washi tape [or normal tape]. Take the first page in your notebook & fold the top right corner down into the spine, you can fold it low or high depending on how big you want the pocket to be. Secure it around the bottom & the side, attaching it to the second page – & you’ve got a pocket! I wrote in cursive on the front – ‘pocket of inspiration’, but you can leave it blank or add a quote – whatever you like! Personalise it! Right after that I designed a ‘character bank’. To put it simply, it’s the next couple pages of the notebook, made to look pretty where I can write down any names that I really like but have no current need for. Whenever I have to name a new character I can go into the bank to see if anything fits. I also jot down meanings if it’s a particularly interesting name & or origin.
I tend to leave the rest of the notebook open so I can write whatever it is I need to – a poem, some notes for a novel I’m working on, an actual piece of fiction or anything else that’s worth writing out properly. Personally I enjoy writing the title of the piece in highlighter in capitals & then write it in black cursive on top but you can style your pages however you wish. If you want it to emulate a beautiful bullet journal then highlighters, cursive writing, stickers & or doodles will make it beautiful. I like to make sure everything is well spaced out with lots of bubbles, underlining & highlighting where necessary & once the writing is done I can make the page nicer to look at. But if you don’t enjoy spending your time doing these frivolous bits then just write away! The benefit of a writer’s notebook is that you’ve got a notebook that is personalised to you.
I use story bibles for each of my novels where I keep all my planning but if you prefer to keep it all in your notebook then you can organise it very easily. Divide your writer notebook into as many sections as you need, possible sections could include – CHARACTERS, WORLD BUILDING, RESEARCH, CHAPTERS, STORY IDEAS – whatever you fancy. Use the washi tape again to tape the edge of the first page in each section [I’d use different washi tape for each section but you can also use the same] & decorate that page as a cover page for each section, then when you’re going to write about a character you can flip to your CHARACTERS section for example. The options are endless!
Personalise it & make it yours! How do you plan to use your writer notebook?