The Importance of Notebooks

By: Janet Freedman On: September 21, 2017 Category: AUTHORS/WRITING

Books on the craft of writing often suggest that aspiring writers carry a notebook so that they can jot down the ideas, thoughts and sentences that sometimes sprout full blown without warning.  I’ve had answers I was looking for arrive when I am nowhere near my keyboard. While sitting in a waiting room, driving my car or drifting off to sleep, my mind will spit out a concise sentence or paragraph that I had been struggling to get-just-right. For the longest time, I refused to jot things down, telling myself that I would remember these breakthroughs with clarity when I next sat down at the keyboard, but the truth is I never did. The sentences disappeared into the mind-mist and recapturing them was like trying to net a ghost. I could come up with a generally workable composition, but it was a shadow of its former self and had lost the clarity and magic of the first idea. 

Thus, I have taken to this notebook idea as a fine plan indeed.

I now have three slim Moleskine notebooks – one in my purse, one on the side table in the living room where I often muse and read, a third on the nightstand next to the bed.  I am amazed at how helpful these notebooks have been in catching fleeting thoughts and ideas before they recede like the tide. The human mind flits through thoughts like a hummingbird dashing from flower to flower and the notebooks have allowed me to slow the process down and capture much of what would have been irretrievable or forgotten.

The notebooks are evolving into an incredibly useful hodgepodge. At present they contain ideas for future essays, fragments of scenes or dialogue for a book manuscript I’m working on, sketches for future paintings, lists of art supplies needing to be purchased, jottings from books I’m reading, exhortations to myself, impressions of the work and techniques employed by other artists, and a journal for thoughts & insights.