The Purposeful Sharing of My Writer's Notebook

My writer’s notebook fulfills many roles. Firstly it is a safe place for me to write. -A place to experiment; a place to be brave. It contains many beginnings and serves as a launching pad for longer pieces of writing that will emerge in time, as I decide which pieces I want to lift out and expand.

Just as important is its role as a teaching resource. My notebook entries serve as examples of my writing life. How I solve problems as a writer and the stories associated with the harvesting of my ideas.

For this reason I regularly share entries with teachers and students when visiting schools. It is an opportunity to shine a light on the craft of writing. The personality of the writer is revealed on the page, as well as the range of influences on the writer.

In the last few days, I have made a range of entries in my notebook and these will form part of the conversation I conduct with young writers in the coming days.

I collected some three word phrases from my latest read, ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart. This book was recommended to me by Joshua, a student at Cairnlea Park Primary School. The aim of listing 3 word phrases is to capture phrases that are catching my attention. I tell students that I can use these phrases in my own writing at various points (beginning, middle, end) and that by applying them, it assists the flow of my writing.

I also trial various craft moves I notice when I am reading like a writer. I recently tried a strategy I call, Begin /End where authors begin a new sentence using the final word of the previous sentence. For them to develop the skill of reading like writers, it is imperative that student writers see fellow authors employing the very same moves.

I also want them to fully understand that my notebook is a place for collecting the words of other writers. -Words that I admire. Words I wish I had written. Words I aspire too. So, this becomes something I consciously share. You see, many young writers have the impression that a writer’s notebook only contains their words. I am attempting to broaden the concept of the notebook as a collection zone.  My sharing is mindful. My sharing is deliberate and purposeful. I do not do these things by chance. All the influences on my writing are shared with the young writers (and their teachers) with whom I work. I am applying the rub off theory.

 I am sharing the journey my writing mind has taken. The words and ideas are the footprints of that journey.  I am saying, ‘This is what it looks like to be someone who writes. ‘This is what you can also do, should you choose.’ I am trying to demystify the writing process. I am consciously sharing some of the tricks I have learned along the way.


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