What Goes In A Writer's Notebook? Article by Ruth Ayres

The following post comes from Ruth Ayres of Two Writing Teachers who posed the question- What Goes In A Writer's Notebook?
I was so impressed with the message that I wanted to share it with you...

Ruth writes:
'One of the things which took me a few years to really understand is what goes in a writer’s notebook. It was one of those thinking journeys which twisted and turned through many ideas, brainstorms, trials, and errors and eventually emerged on the other side with a basic understanding that seems simplistic.

Everything I put in my writer’s notebook is for me as a writer. When I’m ready to write for an audience, it goes outside of my writer’s notebook, on draft paper or in a Word document.
I teach this to students as well. When collecting ideas, ephemera, revision attempts to become a stronger writer, it goes in the writer’s notebook. When writing for an audience, it goes outside of the notebook. Now there are sometimes shady lines about what should go in a notebook, so I encourage each writer to make the final decision (by following the above rule of thumb). And poetry is a hazy line . . . I often use my notebook to draft poems. They are short and I like to play with them, so it seems to work in my notebook.

What’s in my notebook:
•Lists and sketches
•Plans for projects
•Quick writes (These are not drafts; they are dumping my thoughts onto the page in a limited amount of time.)
•Ephemera (You know, all the stuff of life that we should throw away, but writers collect!)
•Snippets of conversation
•Intriguing photos
•Mentor sentences
•Revision attempts — usually first lines, often times endings, sometimes punctuation choices
•Words I love, words I’ve learned and want to use, words about a specific subject
•Publishing opportunities

What’s NOT in my notebook?
•Drafts — Anytime I begin writing for an audience, I find another place besides my notebook! (Although, as I said, the exception to the “NO Drafts” rule is poetry.)
•Daily diary/journal entries: Today I woke up at 4:43 and blah blah blah. The time I have to write is precious and I’m not going to record a report of the day.
•Perfection — My notebook is a place I can write quickly, scratch out, and change my thinking. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
How about you — what’s in and what’s out of your writer’s notebook?'


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