Keeping a Writer’s Notebook – Do You? You should! – Part 2

This is the second post in my series on keeping a writers notebook. I can’t emphasize enough how important this tool is for cataloging and organizing ideas. I take most of my ideas for this tool from the book, The Writer’s Notebook by Ralph Fletcher. This book helps you organize your notebook and use the information you record for various purposes.

If you want to read Part 1 of this series, you can click HERE.


Your Notebook is Like an Incubator

Think of your writer’s notebook as a place where the seeds of ideas are stored and nurtured until they can hatch into full-fledged stories. Once you’ve recorded an idea, your mind will return to it and may collect other observations and partial ideas that will help nourish the original thought into a complete story or book idea.

These seeds can be partial sentences or even a single word. They are designed to get you thinking and helping them grow until they are ready to survive on their own.

abandoned schoolCreate Mind Pictures

Mind pictures are descriptions of things that you experience as realized through your five senses. If you walk by a building, try describing how it appears using these senses:

  • The brick of the building was a deep red speckled with the white scars realized from harsh winters and intense sunlight of summer. (Sight)
  • The floors of the building creaked like an old man’s knees might groan when standing up from a favorite chair. (Sound)
  • There was the odor of chalk dust and crayons lingering in the air within the long closed brick school building. (Smell)
  • The brick felt rough as if it had experienced many years of students tramping through the building, each leaving their mark. This was contrasted with the smooth feel of the blackboards and desks that had been written upon repeatedly yet maintained their slick exterior. (Touch)
  • Deeply inhaling the air in the building resulted in a mixture of dust, mildew and floor wax passing through my sinuses and on my tongue. (Taste – this one may be difficult)


Bits of Conversation

As I travel around the country, I try to notice the things that people say in different areas. This helps with portraying accurate local dialog in your work when you work in particular settings. It also helps you to pick up local sayings and colorful phrases that can entertain your readers.

Here are some unique words I’ve picked up from states that I’ve traveled to over the past five years:

  • Colorado: buck — a brace for cutting firewood
  • Florida: scaper — rascal or critter
  • Georgia: burk — vomit
  • Iowa: kittenball — softball
  • Massachusetts: diddledees — pine needles
  • Michigan: sewing needle — dragonfly
  • Minnesota: ish — expression of disgust
  • New Mexico: colchon — mattress


8 thoughts on “Keeping a Writer’s Notebook – Do You? You should! – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Writing Links 6/19/17 – Where Genres Collide

  2. Pingback: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook – Do You? You should! – Part 3 – Don Massenzio's Blog

  3. Pingback: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook – Do You? You should! – Part 4 – Don Massenzio's Blog

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