Sunday, April 13, 2014

N is for a Writer's Notebook

I have ran a creative writing group for many years. I have tried to get writers to keep and orderly writer's notebook, ideally several for each novel.

This way you can still write and make notes when you are not 'writing.'

How you divide your notes is up to the writer, but this is how I put mine into sections. It was recommended to me years ago and I've kept it up since.

Section 1. Plot ideas. 
Section 2. Characters - descriptions, essential information, their past etc
Section 3. Research - how much you do is a person decision and depends on what you are writing about.
Section 4. Plot summaries. I sometimes try to cut and paste the first paragraph of each chapter in here. It helps me focus and make sure the story stays on track.
Section 5 . Questions, about the plot, research I need to do, what would a character need to have done in their past to make sure they are able to survive a forest fire or flood?

The best thing about a good writer's note book is that it makes you feel organised and productive.


  1. As I discover more of the work involved I realise how right I am to be awed at the persistence and sheer hard work which gives a book to avid readers like myself. A big thankyou to all writers.

  2. A notebook is a great idea, it means that you don't lose those bits of paper with all the jottings. Somehow I stay on track knowing the ending, but since I don't plot I don't know what is about to happen in the chapters, or even how many there may be.
    I suppose we're all different.

  3. Love, love, LOVE this one! I have a notebook for my current WIP, and I have ended up with pages and pages of information that is all jumbled. I have to keep going back over pages looking for key information.
    I've printed this out and will be using your system in the future.
    Thank you!
    Trisha Faye

  4. This is so helpful! I have a journal for my novel where I did something like that, only not as organized. I'm keeping this in mind.

  5. I keep a writer's journal, but I used it to plot and write scene summers during the plotting stage and to make my to do list during the 1st editing stages. I read through and write in detail what's missing or notes on how to fix particular issues as I come to them. The rest you mentioned, I do more on the computer using Scrivener. That way I can keep it all in one place for each project. Searchable terms for quick reference.

  6. I have my best ideas when I have no paper to write them or phone to record them. Maybe one of these new watches that work with the cell phones will come to my rescue in the future.

    Following from Blogging AtoZ.
    I'm writing "Things My Husband Has Broken" A to Z at
    Come by and check it out.

  7. Thanks for stopping by! Also for the tip on the honey for my arthritis - I'll sure give it a try!

  8. I'm always impressed when people can write creatively. Not my forte at all!

    thanks for stopping by Barefoot Mahala. Visiting from A-Z Challenge

  9. Thanks for sharing such amazing things does help newbie bloggers and writers like me :)

  10. Another great post! All these are helpful to me, now I need travel all the way back to A after work! Feeling organized really does help me get my work started and finished. Sometimes starting is the hardest.

  11. This is such a great idea! I have about 46 half filled note book, and 40,000 post it notes all over my house with ideas and characters all over them.
    Love your work x

  12. Totally. Would be lost without my notebook!!

  13. I find Scrivener really useful for this (being that an actual notebook would be illegible in my case), it has a research section and I can include mindmaps and any kind of notes I want to. I also have a mediawiki for one series, because I'm writing it with my sister and we needed a central place to keep all the notes. I have to say the mediawiki is more ordered than most of my Scrivener files! ;P
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

  14. This is a terrific idea, Charlotte!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Nice to meet you...

  15. This is a great idea. I've heard of Scrivener, which Sophie mentions above. That might make more sense for me because of the tendinitis. Though there is a lot of fun in being a panster, sometimes I need more organization.

    Thanks for visiting The Busy Mom's Daily today:

  16. I'm sure it will help to be organized. I write notes on everything but not in the notebook. It even would be hard to put one together from all my sticky notes, little pieces of paper, backs of envelopes, etc.
    Evalina, This and that...

  17. I've tried keeping notebooks like that, but in the end I always turn to a Word document. That way I can change things around better. Plus, my spelling improves while on the computer. ;)

    A-Z Challenging at Untethered Realms

  18. Good advice. I write non-fiction, so my notes are different, but I have them all the same. Mine are not nearly as organized as yours, though. I carry a steno pad that has grocery lists and everything else scribbled on it. After I've made writings notes, I transfer them to computer files where they're more organized.

  19. Great idea. Your notebook is so organized and orderly. I'd be embarrassed to show you mine. :-)

  20. GREAT tips, I do believe I am going to try this! #AtoZchallenge ☮Peace ☮ ღ ONE ℒℴνℯ ღ ☼ Light ☼ visiting from

  21. Add me to the fans of Scrivener. I'm a long-time notebook keeper but my problem is that I now have a bazillion notebooks in my office with half-done stories and I can never find that particular notebook where I outlined the history of a character or the dimensions of an artifact or whatever. Anything that gets a writer organized--notebook, notecards, Scriverner--will increase productivity, and Scrivener is what does it for me.

  22. I really enjoy writing, but it something that I always seem to forget to do. When I was in college, I would always save the last couple pages of each of my class's notebooks for space for creative writing; that way I would always have a space to capture my ideas and poems. Love the post, new follower!

    ~Mr. McLovin at Fuel For The Furnace