Writing Tip

Writing Tip: Keep a Notebook

*The copyright extends to cover both the image and the text.


Back in December, I heard a podcast interview with Patti Smith. For those not familiar with her work, she was the singer/lyricist for The Patti Smith Group. They were in the same New York CBGB’s music scene as The Ramones, Talking Heads, and Blondie. Smith has written and published several collections of poetry and a couple of memoirs. Not that you needed any of that, but I wanted to give some background. Anyway, she gave a great piece of advice. I thought I’d try this out myself and see how things went. Then I could form my own opinion and decide if this was sound advice and expand on the original concept. I know from my own experience this is great advice. It’s easy to remember, and all of three simple words. Keep a notebook.

I’ve found the best notebook to keep is a spiral bound Steno Pad. I can keep a pen tucked away inside the spiral, always there when I need it. A Steno Pad is the perfect size. It isn’t too small, or big, bulky, and take up extra space. I have a small desk, so I need a small sized notebook. This also makes it an easy traveling companion. It’s sturdy enough to not require a desk or table. I like the page flip style. Perhaps the best part is it can stand or balance easily when the time comes to type up the draft.

It’s a luxury to have paper and pen always on standby. You never know when inspiration will strike. When you get an idea, or the complete piece, it’s a nice to have something close to record whatever you’ve got before it’s lost. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Fix that later. The goal is to jot down that idea, or write that piece before it leaves.

In the end, that’s really the main thing I took away, and the main reason I would tell my fellow writers to keep a notebook. We are writers, not typers. I’ll expand on this in a separate piece because it deserves more space than what I have here. We’re writers, so let’s write. You might not be able to reach an electronic device with a notepad or word processor when inspiration strikes. What if the battery is running out or dead? What if you lose power? In the electronic age we live in, we can still create our art, hone our craft with the simplest of tools. Something to write with and something to write on is all we need. Charcoal and a cave wall. Pen and paper. I recommend the pen and paper, but that’s just me. Seems like it would be easier.

If you’ve never kept a notebook, or haven’t done so recently, give it a try. I’ve noticed my production increase and I’m once again enjoying the creative process. Electronics can be distracting. With a notebook, the lone distraction are my thoughts. Not a big deal. I write them down and see if I can build on anything. Like I did here.

Copyright © Drew Martin 2016


4 thoughts on “Writing Tip: Keep a Notebook”

  1. I’m a bit obsessive about notepads! I start a new one for every book I write and record every idea, character bio and scene notes in it until I’m ready to start typing up the manuscript. I also keep a ‘general’ notepad in my bag at all times for those snippets of conversations you hear (yep, I’m always listening haha) or random thoughts and plot twists. I should buy shares in Paperchase!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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