The Magical Relationship Between a Writer and Their Notebook #AmWriting #Writers


This weekend has been spent clearing out my loft. As we battled against ten years worth of forgotten clutter I came across a few of my old writer notebooks.

As I opened them up I did wonder whether they would make me cringe. But they did quite the opposite.

Some of my old stories were born inside these notebooks and it was tear inducing to see the first few scribbles of a project appear on a page and then start to grow.

I let out a few creative sighs as I saw familiar characters emerge, plots take shape and I noted how a couple of characters and story ideas never made it out of the notebook.

I knew I had to write a post on the special bond between writers and their notebooks.

The magic for a writer first occurs in their notebook.

The first scribble of an idea sparks a few sentences, fills a page, spreads across half the notebook and then bursts onto a Word doc.

A writer’s notebook retains a little piece of magic as when you read it again years later a part of you starts to tingle.

It transports you back to the time of scribbling…on your lunch break at work, a decade ago, reaching for your notebook, whilst wolfing down a cheese and pickle sandwich, as a fabulous idea for a novel starts to unfold inside your head.

We carry our notebooks around with us throughout our daily lives, stuffed into handbags, rucksacks or on a mobile phone app. They record thought snippets, lightbulb ideas, tales from life which will make good novel fodder and useful instructions about what to write next.

‘Notebooks are messy little attics of the mind, an odd assortment of shapes and colours stuffed into drawers next to defunct phones and balls of string.’ Susie Boyt

Some of us will sketch and doodle in our notebooks. I am a big fan of playing out a scene in my notebook using stick men and speech bubbles.

I love how it can take weeks to find the perfect notebook. However once you spot your future notebook you will do anything (elbow other shoppers out of the way) to make it your own.

Design and covers are quite important when it comes to notebooks. I like to give each project a notebook and this can be tricky as the cover has to in some way relate to the story.

A notebook can cure a bad dose of Writer’s Block. These little paper or electronic things are magical and can get your creative cogs turning again.

My old notebook in the loft gave birth to my first ever draft novel, a chick lit style, romance set in space.

There’s a good reason why the notebook and story stayed up in the loft. Here’s some of my notebook notes from years ago:

Working title: Space Girl

  • Main female character is single, not had any romance for months, has been on a miserable beetroot diet for weeks, been made redundant from her office job, crashed her car due to bad parking skills and whilst staggering home from the pub becomes caught up in an intergalactic mix up. She is mistakenly beamed up to an alien space ship.
  • Lead male character – hot Brad Pitt lookalike alien thinks main female character is interesting as all she does is complain about the bad day she’s having; weight issues, losing job, single, wrinkles on face, first grey hairs, heavy period, car still in garage and now she’s been abducted by aliens.
  • He’s heard from other aliens that all humans do is scream and wail. This human is angry, uses a lot of sarcasm and has a full-blown tantrum on his spaceship.
  • Main female character must find a way to get home so that she can accompany her mother to hospital for bunion operation, feed her neighbour’s pet rat, pay the flat rent bill and attend a job interview.
  • Hot Brad Pitt alien lookalike promises her he will beam her back to Earth, but in return she has to help him save the universe from another deadly alien race.
  • Main female character can’t drive on Earth but by chance discovers she is a kick ass spacecraft pilot.
  • Main female character, whilst rummaging around alien space ship, finds miracle alien potion which transforms the person who drinks it. Within seconds she’s a stone lighter, has amazing big hair and is wrinkle free.
  • Together her and hot alien save the universe, have some romance and then she has to make heart wrenching decision about whether she returns to her Earth life looking after her mother post bunion op, feeding pet rat and trying to find money to pay her rent or new life in space, knocking back copious amounts of that potion, looking amazing, flying spaceship with hot Brad Pitt lookalike by her side.

Things I need to read up on:

  • Space


I know what you are thinking – literary masterpiece – yes at the time I thought so too.

After reliving the highlights of my bad first novel I need to lie down in a darkened room and tell myself, ‘every author writes a bad first novel, nothing to be ashamed of. Although I might be the only romance author who has written dire first novel and at same time created new genre – space chick lit!’

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Still waiting for the Sleepless in Seattle film sequel. Romcom Author. Book Blogger. Mum of teens. Owned by a golden Labrador.

32 thoughts on “The Magical Relationship Between a Writer and Their Notebook #AmWriting #Writers

  1. I still have the notebook I used for the first novel I wrote. It’s amazing to see how much work I did, planning each character’s back story. I use a spreadsheet to outline my novels now but they don’t have the magic of that first little notebook.

  2. I LOVE this post. You are so write about the importance of a notebook, those first few sparks of ideas, characters and sentences. I have my “ah-ha!” moments in mine, where I realised a twist and of course those all important final words that were to become the ending. I thought I’d lost my notebook once, (thankfully I hadn’t) and wrote a whole blog post about what I learnt in that worrying moment when I thought it was gone.
    Great post xx

  3. love the space girl story – ‘hot brad pitt alien’ sounds like a recipe to be eaten with a green salad and a side of asteroids. Yes to old notebooks; makes me want to dig out my first and see what horrors it contains!

  4. I love the first notes about the girl about to be taken up: -much more fun than serious Sci fi. She would moan so much aliens would want to return her asap. At one stage, twenty years old, I crossed the world with two suitcases for a holiday that turned into forever but somehow had the foresight to bring my notebooks – found them in the loft last year

  5. I think those first scribbles are just precious… My poetry ones make me cringe a little and smile a lot!
    And for the record, why aren’t you following up on that Love In Space idea??!! πŸ˜›

  6. I dont have a note book I scribble ideas on post-it notes, the ideas are then typed into word and between these processes the idea seed begins to germinate.
    Then I chuck the post-its away which will probably horrify some writers!

  7. Good story. I carry my notebook in my pocket at work and write in it during breaks.

    I blog, but I am still learning how to pry my story ideas out of my head. I can think of a good initial idea, but developing it into a full story is quite a challenge.

    By the way, I have one story idea inspired by what I felt when I lost my notebook (scary time). I did find it.

  8. I always start a project with a notebook. Something about using the right pen, crisp blank pages and writing out each word that makes it feel safer and less subject to self-editing. The computer, for all it’s cuts and delete buttons, feels more permanent. Maybe it’s the screen.

  9. This was fun! I found some awful poetry in a bunch of my old notebooks and some very embarrassing diary stuff, which I just had to get rid of! However, my first story was some sort of space adventure and I’m stubbornly holding on to the hope that I can breath some life in to it one day πŸ™‚

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