A Writer’s Notebook

Do you keep a journal?  A writer’s notebook?  A diary?  No matter what you call it, keeping a place to jot down thoughts, ideas, speculations is an excellent idea for a writer.  An excellent book about keeping a writer’s notebook is Breathing In, Breathing Out by Ralph Fletcher.  Breathing In, Breathing Out was published back in 1996, but the information is just as good today as it was when it was first published.

I have never used a writer’s notebook on a daily basis, but I do have about five notebooks filled with “notes” that I’ve written down through the years.  Sometimes I write snatches of songs or pieces of poems.  Sometimes I jot down brief scenes that pop into my mind.  Sometimes I write about hopes and dreams.  Often I write tightly, using brief words and phrases.  Days, even weeks or months may go by without my making any entries.  Then I may write several pages in just a few days.

Some of these musings find their way into a story.  Some aren’t worth the page they are written on!

I like to revisit my notebooks from time to time.  Sometimes re-reading an entry will spark an idea that I never even knew I had.

Looking through an old notebook, I came across these entries that I made back in the 80’s:

                         Icy roads. Sand trucks. Lights shining on sand spilling out in fine streams, falling, sprinkling, covering the ice.  Biting into the slick glass covering the road.  Pitting it. Tires whine and grab the sand gladly, inching up and down the hills.  (Local term:glare ice). 


Dark.  Dark is no light.  No street lights, yard lights, porch lights, or house lights.  No star light or moonlight.  Thick clouds  cover the night with blackness.  Nothing.  Nowhere. Stumble. Touch. Fall. Feel. Darkness.


                           “Silver Sounds to open Golden Gates.”  A circle of skin stretched tightly over a wooden hoop.  All around the circle hung tiny silver bells.  Each time she tapped the skin, the bells sang softly.  Janita heard voices coming from the bells.  She snatched her hand away from the bellskin.


Hummm.  Now that last entry fits right into a fantasy story.  Janita has to be the main character, of course.

Do you keep a writer’s notebook?  How do you use your entries?



About Sue

From the time, as a young girl, when Sue read the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, she was hooked on fantasy. She loves to read fiction and write within many genres, but she always winds up going back to fantasy. For years she has had fantasy stories spinning around in her head and now that she is retired from many years of teaching, she is putting those stories into book form. She has many interests, including quilting and playing the mountain dulcimer, but writing is the most satisfying of all. Sue lives in the great state of Maine with her husband of 38 years. She has been a factory worker, a waitress, a librarian, and a teacher. Her biggest job was being a mother and she has three grown children. Now that she is a grandmother, she is enjoying that role immensely.

Posted on December 17, 2012, in about writing, Authors - Sue Santore and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Sue, five books full really? That’s almost frightening to me, I don’t think I could concentrate on my so-called real life with all that writing clamoring to get out.

    A notebook would be WAY too organized for me- or that’s what I would have said before my upcoming tale “Perilous Embraces” came along. I actually did set aside a flip-pad just last week, and put a few sheets of ideas into it (and it’s on the right side of my desk now, silently glowering at me). That story is going to be SO difficult to do (female main character, I’m insane!) I knuckled under and started to jot down observations. Otherwise, I have “notes” from past views of the Lands, but it’s not the same as the poetic phrases you showed us. Mine are much more historical and straightforward, closer to rough drafts of the action.

    And I must say, I almost never forget them anyway. That you could have so much material it seemed new to you now is a fantasy in itself!

    • Oh, Will, in no way are my notebooks organized! Some of the first ones had mundane entries about what I did that day. Sometimes while reading a book I made notes about the content. (nonfiction) Sometimes I’d jot down bits of odds and ends of nothing. Sometimes I’d write down dreams before they fled my memory. Rarely do any of them have notes about the books I’m working on. Rather it’s a place where I capture ideas before they flee.

      My notes about current books are totally separate.

      P.S. As to the number of notebooks, remember my lengthy years on this earth. 😀

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