“If you spend your time scribbling down in notebooks, things are given to you.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
I hope this week is treating you well. I know this post is a bit late, and for that I apologize. I have actually been thinking a lot about his one and though that’s not excuse, I hope you take it anyway. Well, today’s blogging tool is none other than the Writer’s Notebook. Or, in this case, the Blogger’s Notebook. A great way, if not the greatest, at fighting blogger’s block. (I know, writer’s block sounds better.)
I know I’ve written about keeping a journal in the past, and I will do so again (this time seriously) because I really do consider it a necessity for any writer, artist, blogger, and creative person. A journal is the greatest source of writing material because it is where everything we think, find interesting, notice, etc., goes (to die . . . just kidding). Also, you can use any kind! (My current one is a Moleskine gifted to me by a friend.)
When I first started this blog, I would have long gaps between posts. One of the reasons, or the main reason actually, was because I had no idea what to write about. I would sit before the computer, pumped up for a blog post, and, just as I pulled up WordPress, would feel all that energy jump out of my body and hit the window, hard. My mind blank, I would stare at the computer screen and with numb fingers, typed up some crappy dribble that should never have seen the light of day.
But it did. This was because I had no foundation for the post. Then it hit me, I had the best source of material at hand: my journal. Flipping through the pages I would find quotes, short and long entries, excerpts from novels, pictures, movie tickets, you name it. All of these serve as starting fodder for a post. All you have to do is pull out your own notebook (not mine, of course, or else’s I’d be wondering how you got it and who I’d need to call to get it back), read through your notes, maybe annotate a few, and finally arrive to one that speaks to you or inspires you in some way.
For now, my blogging journal is combined with my personal journal, because as I travel light, I do not want to carry around several notebooks at once. (I am using the terms journal and notebook interchangeably. There’s no difference between the two here.) In it, I have sections divided for blogging, personal notes, and class notes, and anything I think is serious material I mark with a metal paper clip. However, once this journal is done I plan to have a separate one for blogging, so as not to have to dig through the pages for what I need. (More on how to achieve this in part two.)
Granted, for those on the go, keeping a journal can be very difficult, and so it can be simpler writing a note in one’s phone or tablet or even laptop. However, for many (myself included) there is a noticeable difference between writing by hand and typing something down on an electronic device. In my case, there is a switch in my brain when I write, where my brain suddenly becomes more focused, tunes all noise out, and so makes me organize the jumble in my head. Also, I tend to remember what I write down, even long quotes. When I type or make a note in my phone, however, I do not remember as much as I do otherwise, and everything is still jumbled because I can almost type as fast as my brain can formulate coherent thoughts. And, since I can do this, at least a quarter of what I type is misspelled, or gibberish at a glance because my brain’s autocorrect function didn’t have time to kick in. This is similar to taking notes in class, how many of you remember more of what you write down in class (or even at a meeting) than of what you type?
Another benefit of keeping a physical notebook is that you aren’t restrained by a battery or need of a power outlet. Again, typing out a note is easier, but what if your device is low on battery? There have been times when I didn’t have my notebook, and decided to write a note on Evernote (which I am using to compose this post, so I’m not saying apps are bad at all) only to discover that my phone was low on battery and there was no sight of a power outlet anywhere. By the time I finally charge it, the thought’s gone (to die . . . seriously). So yes, to keep this from getting longer than it already is, I will say once more that a notebook is a necessity for creative expression, and will even show you guys a page from my Moleskine: