Meta-writing: The importance of a project notebook
When I’m doing creative writing, my notebook is absolutely essential.
And I don’t mean a little pocket notebook, because it’s not meant for writing a few bullet points in. It’s not meant for doing the actual writing in. I do that on the computer. This notebook is meant to keep all the backstories, maps, printed infographics, plot arc drawings, tables and character analyses organised.
I have this weird thing where I can’t visualise a plot arc if I don’t write and/or draw it out by hand. My plot does not work until I handwrite the notes, even if it is the same notes that I typed out earlier. I love technology, but creative writing forces me to go analogue. Maybe that’s a good thing.
I don’t know what weird thing causes my analogue necessity, but I had the same issue at university. I couldn’t study if I didn’t write my class notes. I couldn’t type in class, even though I type faster than I handwrite. And when writing research papers I needed to have the points lined up on paper if I wanted to do an effective job.
Now, this notebook. I’m not too fussy, I only have a few requirements for it:
- It must have a pretty cover, because I like pretty things. And I will spend a lot of time staring at this notebook.
- It must be A5. I’ve used both bigger and smaller, but A5 is nice because it’s big enough that I can paste printed pages in and small enough to fit in my handbag.
- It should NOT be spiral-bound, even though they’re the most common type of notebook. Why? Because I’m left-handed. If you’re left-handed you’ll know exactly the pain I’m referring to.
Other than that, I can live with basically anything in a notebook. Let’s face it, I’m probably going to buy it on sale, so I’m not exactly spoilt for choice. My current one has a pen loop, which is great. I never have to look for a writing implement if I have one of those. And I always fold the last page of the notebook into a pocket, the way we were taught in school. For all those small pieces of paper, floating about.
So this notebook is the lifeblood of my writing. And all of it is always a work in progress. Also, while it could get lost, it can’t get a bug or crash when I haven’t saved. I like that. It’s important to me.
Do you have a writing notebook? What’s in yours?