A Peek Inside My Writer’s Notebook

The bulletin board I made for the hallway

The bulletin board I made for the hallway

During the first few weeks of school, many teachers graciously invite me into their classrooms to launch writer’s notebooks.  I love talking to kids about the purpose of a writer’s notebook.  We discuss what a writer’s notebook is (a place to collect ideas, to remember words, to take risks) and what a writer’s notebook isn’t (a journal, a sketchbook.)  Then, I usually give the kids a peek inside my own writer’s notebook.  Wanna see?

Sometimes, I make lists in my notebook:

A list of possible memoir ideas

A list of possible memoir ideas

Sometimes, I draw a quick sketch in my notebook:

A sketch of my childhood home

A sketch of my childhood home

I made that sketch when I was beginning a memoir about my childhood doll.  I was trying to bring back as many memories of her as I could, so I sketched out my childhood home and thought about all the different things I did with my doll when I was younger.

Sometimes, I just want to get my thoughts out, unsure of what will become of them:

Some random thoughts

Some random thoughts

I wrote those thoughts as my daughter’s second birthday approached.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write.  You can see in the upper right hand corner I was questioning, “Do I write her a letter?  Write an essay?  Maybe a poem?”  I never did write anything, but I am so glad I saved those thoughts on paper.  I know I will need them someday.

Sometimes, I make a timeline of events if I am writing a story…

A timeline of events from a childhood mishap

A timeline of events from a childhood mishap

…and then I zoom-in on each event from the timeline:

A zoom-in of one my events from the timeline

A zoom-in of one my events from the timeline

Sometimes, I see a text that inspires me.  If I can, I copy it into my notebook:

Notebook Newspaper

This writer made a simple list of “9 things I like”

Then, I will try it out myself:

My list of 9 things I like

My list of 9 things I like

Sometimes, I develop a character in my notebook:

Thinking through my character's internal and external features

Thinking through my character’s internal and external features

Thinking through characters before I write always adds depth to my writing.

Sometimes, I collect words:

A list of words to use in my historical fiction piece

A list of words to use in my historical fiction piece

This is only a small peek into my writer’s notebook.  There are loads of other entries (writing long, webs, favorite lines, visual note-taking, etc).  Giving the kids a peek inside my own writer’s notebook shows them there is no “right” way to keep a notebook.  There are endless possibilities.

It works every time.  The kids are always eager to leave the carpet area and start writing in their very own writer’s notebooks.