8 Ways a Notebook Can Supercharge your Writing

I started using a writing notebook in 2014. Since then notebooks have become an essential part of my writing process. Whether it’s an idea for a whole story, a scene, or just a cool-sounding sentence, my notebook is my second brain. I’ve currently filled 3 and a half notebooks (about 900+ pages – you can see my collection in the above header image), and I can’t imagine life without them.

Obviously, I’m already sold on notebooks. By the end of today’s post, I hope you’ll be just as hooked on them as I am. So, here are 8 ways a notebook can supercharge your writing.

1. Writing ideas helps you develop ideas

When I was thinking about this post, I only came up with 4 ways a notebook helps you write. However, the act of writing this post’s outline in my notebook let me come up with another 3 ways. This is a common occurrence. Whenever I have a 1-sentence idea for a scene, character or story, it usually turns into a whole-page affair once I start writing in my notebook.

2. You’ll never forget an idea!

Blame my paranoia, but I’m terrified that I’ll come up with an awesome scene or character and forget it ten minutes later. I even have a notepad beside my bed in case I think of something awesome in the middle of the night! This is why having a notebook is great, because it lets you shovel all your ideas into storage so you concentrate on more important things.

3. Helps you sort good ideas from bad ones

It’s hard to objectively evaluate ideas when they’re in our heads. By using a notebook to transfer ideas into words, you’ll gain greater objectivity over them, letting you work out which ideas to trash before you spend an hour writing a scene, rather than after.

4. Cross-Pollination

My biggest notebooking tip is this: write all your ideas in the same notebook – even if they’re for different stories. Why? Well, by having notes for different stories in a single notebook, you’re gearing up your brain to combine ideas in interesting, unique and new ways. For instance, I might flip from an idea for a sci-fi world to a page with a drawing of a pastoral setting. This might lead to a story about a 2430s-era farmer. In short, chucking all your ideas into a single notebook increases the chances of emergent ideas.

5. Gives you a Creativity-Prompter

Notebooks are great for organising, planning and brainstorming, but they’re also a useful resource for the future. Once you’ve finished a notebook, keep it nearby. Whenever you’re facing writer’s block, flick through the pages. The writing problems you’re struggling with will collide with old ideas, scene sketches and characters, making cute idea-babies that will pull you over the wall that is writer’s block.

6. Lets you transform ideas into stories

Ideas are easy. Anyone can have them – and have them in abundance. What’s difficult is turning ideas into stories. Your notebook helps with this by acting as a brainstorming, outlining and planning tool all in one. Think of it like a 0th draft: by processing ideas from your head into a notebook and then into a story you get an extra quality filter, helping the water that is your story taste chlorine-free.

7. It gives you practice at writing

Writing makes you a better writer. Thus, trying to stuff as much writing into your day as possible – in any form – can only improve your storytelling. As a different, less pressured medium, your notebook helps you sneak extra writing into your life.

8. It’s fun!

Notebooks exist in the realm of creativity. They’re never going to be shown to a publisher (or even anyone else), which gives you freedom to explore whatever you please within them.

Final Thoughts:

Notebooks are a great way to bolster your writing skills. Their flexibility and ease of use (never runs out of charge!) have made them a key part of my writing toolkit, and I hope that this post has made you want to give them a shot as well!

What are your thoughts on notebooks? Do you use one? Do you have a particular system for writing ideas, scenes and characters, or does everything just get scribbled everywhere (I’m personally in the first category)? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

12 thoughts on “8 Ways a Notebook Can Supercharge your Writing

  1. Love my notebooks and can’t write without them! I have several that contain different info on wips, but my 6×9 flexible binder with pockets contains EVERYTHING! 😄 All wips begin in the binder and even when I begin typing scenes in Scrivener, I still make notes in the binder.

    I can’t function without my binder. Counseling might be needed! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not quite at the binder-esque level of notebooking yet, but hey, if that works for you, go with it! Also: I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with an obsessive attachment to my notebooks (terrified of losing them, I photograph every page after I’ve finished a notebook) :). Thanks for the insight!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My notebook is invaluable and so too is a quality pen, at present an ink ball. I’ve tried to keep notes on my phone but that doesn’t come close to the way a pen can tease the thoughts from your head. It must have something to do with the hand coordination and flow.
    Just before I read your post (I’m eating breakfast) I dashed off a page and a half in my notebook that just may become tonight’s post. Unless of course my notebook deems otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And sometimes having to leaf through a notebook to find a random scribble forces you to skim through your old sketches, perhaps coming across a “bright idea” you’d forgotten about! Everything goes in my notebook: grocery lists, story ideas, blog-post outlines — everything. I cherish it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Becomming a Better Fiction Writing using Passive Learning – Jed Herne: Writer

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