Using a Writer’s Notebook

Writers need a space to record what they observe as they move through the world. A personal space to jot down the kernels of ideas that begin to form anywhere, anytime.

The only difference between writers and non-writers is writers record their observations.

I have 2 writer’s notebooks. One that I use in my daily life and one that I use with the students. The only reason I have 2 is because some of my observations and ideas aren’t appropriate to share with school kids (I tend to use swearing in dialogue regularly, ergo, inappropriate for school). However I still use my school writer’s notebook almost every day and students can see where my ideas have blossomed from.

If you haven’t already started your writer’s notebook journey I encourage you to do so. Whether it is to become a better teacher of writing or if you just want to begin documenting all those amazing ideas you have, places you go, or memories you want to keep, it really is a critical step in your writing journey.

Choose a notebook that suits you. Lines, blank, big, pocket size – whatever it may be and personalise it. Mine is covered in quotes and pictures (see above) that lift me up whenever I look at it, they make me want to open it. Students really love bringing in photos, quotes and other ephemera to personalise their own. It’s an important step that says to kids:

Look. This is different to your school work books. This is your space. You choose what goes in here and you choose what it looks like.

At the start of 2019 I sat with my new class and showed them my writer’s notebook. I explained why I had chosen what I had to personalise it and then we discussed ways to generate ideas for our writer’s notebook. We looked at a page I’d created that showed a (not-exhuastive) list of things I love. It included the word CHEESE, because, quite simply, I love cheese. I then showed them how that had sparked an idea for a poem which I read aloud.

Aside from the sheer brilliance and accuracy of my poem, what the students saw was the authentic use of my writer’s notebook. And as teachers, that’s what we’re aiming for. Authenticity and purpose.

At the end of the 2019 one of my delightful students gifted me these earrings that she made herself. What a treasure.

I’ve never met a cheese earring I didn’t like.

I hope you managed to do a little writing today. And if you haven’t yet sorted yourself a Writer’s Notebook – have a little browse at a local business nearby. You’ll find something that speaks to you. And then write about it – because talking notebooks are pretty rare.

Enjoy your tea xx

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