Have you ever bought a pocket-sized notebook and thought to yourself that this is what’s going to make you start writing? It may have been a sleek Moleskin or a hardbound vintage diary you bought while traveling – but regardless of your choice, you imagined the book full of deep thoughts, short stories (or maybe that’s just me) and daily observations. Not only did you expect this little notebook to inspire you, you also presumed that will alter your handwriting; your illegible chicken-scrawl will be transformed into long, elegant cursive letters or perhaps neat, confident block letters. If you have experienced all of the above then you have also discovered (with great sorrow) that a Supernatural Notebook exists not.
No notebook in this world will get those words out of your head and onto the paper (although a leather-bound limited-edition journal might help a little). I’m not saying you should not invest in a notebook, on the contrary – go ahead and indulge! Hunt for notebooks, buy them, start a collection. Just make sure you take your notebook passion one step further by writing in them.
Here’s part of my collection. Click on the image for details; each notebook has a story!
So you’ve bought the notebooks and a few pens. Now what? How do you get writing? Don’t let those blank page intimidate you! The trick is to own the book. Accept the fact that it won’t be brand new forever. It’ll soon be covered in smudges, ink and coffee stains. Open it right away and scribble your name.
There! That’s the first and hardest step out of the way.
Let’s move on to destroying the notebook (I once bought this for a friend. I wonder if she used it!). Once you’ve managed to write your name in the book, don’t stop there. Write your grocery list, your favorite poem, ten movies you want to watch or recipe you never want to forget. Whatever you do, do not wait for inspiration.
Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.
That is excellent advice to everyone – not only budding writers but also people who are starting something new, whether it’s exercise or culinary school: persistence is key. So if you want to have an interesting journal to look back at in a few years, stick to a routine. Promise yourself that you’ll write two full pages before bed every night. Write down your reflections, thoughts and feelings or write about the silly songs on the radio. Write. Don’t stop until you’ve hit the two page mark.
If you can’t bear the routine, try to tackle a different writing exercise each day. There are plenty online but here’s one from a book I have by Janet Burroway called Imaginative Writing: The Elements of the Craft.
Make use of these prompts or trigger lines for easy freewrites. Pick one of them–quickly; don’t think about it too much–write it down and keep writing. Anything at all. Whatever the prompt suggests. Keep going. A little bit more.
- This journal is
- My mother used to have
- There was something about the way he
- The house we lived in
- In this dream I was
- She got out of the car
- The first thing I want in the morning
Keeping a journal or a notebook is not easy. Give yourself time to get used to this physical object. Get comfortable with it. Enjoy the way it feels in your hand and relish the time you spend filling it with words and sketches. Remember, your notebook will never judge you and it will treat everything like a rough draft.
Trust your notebook.
Take a deep breath and put your thoughts into words.