Thursday, February 03, 2011
The Story Notebook
Here it is, guys - the composition notebook that is the birthplace of my new book. You'll see the cryptic title SISTERS, since I'm not sure what the real novel will end up being called just yet.
Every time I begin a new story, I purchase this exact kind of notebook and I start scribbling all my ideas in it. As the story grows, I use it for outlining the chapters and sections, for tracking my daily progress (number of words written, pages, time spent) and for making revision notes. It stays with me until the book is finally done, revised, accepted, and then the notebook joins the pile of the others that have come before it.
It's important, for me at least, to have this kind of ritual. It is one of the things that I do each time. And it's comforting to have the notebook with me wherever I'm writing. It's convenient to have it in my backpack so that I can write down any new idea that relates to the book. It's low-tech, requires no batteries, and it costs under three dollars, usually.
If you're a teen who wants to write, I'd suggest starting this habit of carrying a notebook with you. It doesn't have to be all for one novel or short story. You don't have to actually use it for the pages of the story if you don't want to. Just let it be the receptacle in which you collect your ideas and thoughts. It's not a journal, which for me means a notebook you use to record your life, this is the dreamcatcher for your writing life.
You don't have to share it. You don't have to be grammatically correct or spell anything right within its pages. It's only for you and the story.
I have some rules about my notebook. I cannot ever tear out a page from the book. I cannot use it to write down a shopping list. I cannot use it to write about real events or how I feel about them. I cannot abandon it for a new book - I use it until my novel is done.
The notebook is my ritual, but I know other writers and artists use other things. Do you have any ritual you use when starting a new story or project?
What is something you must have in place to begin your creative work?
Wherever You Go - Harcourt 11/11
The Clearing - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Never Cry Werewolf - HarperTeen