Summer Writing: A Confession and a Goal

twt notebook featured image

All of us at Two Writing Teachers are thinking about and planning for summer writing. Summer writing inspiration for our students and summer writing goals for ourselves. Kathleen wrote this fabulous post about using QR codes to support students’ summer notebook writing. Beth shared inspiration in her recent Summer Writing Bucket List post. And Melanie reflected on the importance of summer writing for both students and teachers.

My summer writing goal begins with a confession. I have not been a faithful notebook keeper. There, I said it. I am a sporadic notebook user, with earnest intentions and lofty dreams of building a habit of regular notebook use.

Instead of keeping a notebook, I store drafts on my blog. I revisit them often and rework and revise some until they become published posts.  But, as I grow as a writer, I’m discovering that my blog doesn’t meet many of my writer needs. It isn’t  handy in those moments when I overhear snippets of conversation and want to record them or when I wish to jot down a quick idea or observation. It isn’t convenient in the middle of the night when I sometimes do my best composing as I lie awake. I don’t want to turn on the computer then and by daylight the lines have vanished from my brain. I think of and forget too many seeds and ideas because I do not have a notebook with me.

And let’s not even talk about how I squirm when students ask me about my writer’s notebook. I can’t speak from experience because I’m not walking the walk as a notebook keeper, and that is holding me back as a teacher.

In her recent post Ideas and Inspiration for Summer Writing, Melanie encourages us to “make a decision to keep (our) own writing (lives)  going throughout the summer and share that decision with (our) students.” Since my students have left for summer, I’m declaring my summer writing goal to you, my Two Writing Teachers community.

My summer writing goal is to build a notebook habit. And I’d like to share my journey with you.

This is my current notebook:

notebook cover

My notebook cover

notebook inspiration


notebook writing ideas

From my notebook- ideas for Slices


I’ve had it for almost two years. I don’t write in it often. I’m not even sure if I like it.

When I started this notebook,  I wanted it to be a place where I could jot down ideas, vent, doodle, record snippets, store inspirational pieces of writing, play with words, and tuck in things that might spark future writing ideas. I divided  it into sections and labeled them; inspiration, ideas, notes. I didn’t plan to use it for drafting pieces I intended to publish because I am a writer who does a lot of revising as I write, and I like to do that kind of writing on the computer.

The first thing I did after deciding my goal was to contact Michelle Haseltine. If you are a Slicer, then you know Michelle. And if you know Michelle, you know she is an amazing notebook keeper. She has written in notebooks since 1982. She shared this post about her notebooks in March, and I for one was inspired. And she wrote this one from her notebook’s point of view.  Last June she shared her thoughts about introducing students to notebooks and supporting their notebook habit all year long right here on Two Writing Teachers . Her reflections and suggestions were credible because she was a notebook keeper.

Michelle kindly offered me the following tips:

  • She suggested I try morning pages in my notebook. You can read more about morning pages on Julia Cameron’s website
  • She instructed me to bring my notebook EVERYWHERE with me.  I’d already decided I needed to start doing this and had been thinking about Donalyn Miller’s advice to readers about always having a book with them in case they have a “reading emergency.” By bringing my notebook everywhere, I am now going to be prepared for writing emergencies.
  • She guided me to give myself permission to be messy and fill my notebook with anything. I needed to hear this because part of what has held me back is the notion that each page should be an artistic masterpiece.
  • She reminded me to write for me. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is whether to keep two notebooks, one to share at school and one just for me. For now I’m going to focus on one, knowing that there will be parts I choose to share and others I prefer to keep private.
  • And she encouraged me to get special pens/markers/pencils just for me and just for notebook use! I’m starting with Paper Mate flair tip pens, Stadtler fine tip pens and General Pencil Company cedar pencils.

Now you know. I am not yet a writer who regularly uses a notebook. But I’ve got the tools and some great advice. And I’ve run out of excuses. My summer writing goal is to become a regular notebook user. I’ll be back with an update.

Will you join me?