"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

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Thursday, 28 February 2013


Pretty notebooks help a writer keep track of ideas.
Image from www.ElleandBlair.com

I have quite a collection of notebooks.  They help me to keep track of stray ideas which may become projects later down the line, but which for now, just need a place to sit and wait until I'm truly ready for them. Notebooks are the waiting room of a writer's workplace; here the ideas, musings and pondering snippets can be set down and kept safe.

Ideas are like fickle lovers - if you don't pin them down and keep track of them they will quickly go off with another writer who has more time for them.  You might think that you will remember that genius plot line in the morning so why bother searching for a pen at 3am, but trust me, you won't. You'll just remember that you had a great idea that escaped you.

I also believe that paper notebooks are more valuable than a random file on a computer - things get lost and hidden in the memory archives of a laptop, but a notebook is always on hand to be flicked through as you search for that line of dialogue you heard on the bus or that fantastic chorus for a new song.  Notebooks are tangible evidence of your life as a writer.  You can easily see when certain themes or patterns are evolving, when something is inspired by your own life or when an idea is ready to become the first seeds of a brand new project.  If you work as a published writer notebooks are invaluable for marking down what piece was published where and which editors are most receptive to your work.  

I have four different notebooks.  Each one is a map of the creative journey for a particular type of writing;

  1. Spirit&Destiny; in this notebook I keep track of every column and feature I have written for S&D. It is very important that I can see at a glance how my column is shaping up so that I don't repeat topics/spells.  I list each column's theme, tone and spell type every month before I file it into my editor.  I also add editorial notes (say for instance when a particular issue has an overall theme and my column needs to fit in/stand out) . I jot down ideas for new column topics at the back of this book.  I plan out my columns in advance - sometimes I change up the order and sequence to fit my writing mood as I want to have fun in my work, but I plan ahead by about one full year.
  2. Freelancer; as a freelance features journalist and a core contributor to national multi-media publishers I write for all kinds of magazines, not just MBS.  I enjoy contributing to equestrian, lifestyle, writing, women's and home decor magazines too so I need to keep track of all that is going on in this aspect of my work, particularly when it comes to deadlines.
  3. Poetry & Lyrics; this is one of my favorite notebooks.  It is probably the most whimsical of my collection.  Here I write down random verse, poetry and song lyrics as they come to me - I might not have the whole song/poem right away but I note down the gems I do have.  Sometimes a combination of these gems is enough to create a new poem, or they might be the bare bones of a new song. It could even be the start of a spell-craft incantation.  In this notebook my raw creativity is pinned down, unfinished, uneven and free-flowing.  When I feel stuck in my writing this is the notebook I turn to.
  4. ShimmerCastDreams;  in this notebook I write down new ideas for blog posts at the back of the book.  At the front I keep track of all the Book Nook posts so that I know which titles I have already reviewed - I am a repeat reader and if I enjoy a book I will re-read it several times.  I don't want to repeat the Book Nooks though, so I tally them up in a notebook.  This also helps me to see what types of books I am reviewing, so I can change it up and keep it fresh. It would be boring if they were all in the same genre. 
If you are not in the habit of keeping notebooks with you I suggest you pick up a few next time you are out shopping.  It will keep your head space free for the actual creative process, rather than taking up mental storage with random ideas and deadlines.  Ideas alone do not make a writer, but a writer is nothing without a place to keep her ideas. 

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