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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How to fill a notebook


Sometimes I feel like I should rename this blog "how to fill a notebook" because I talk about it so often. It's one of my favorite subjects, and I never get tired of talking about it, so I hope you guys never get tired of hearing about it, because these posts are going to pop up every few months forever.

I firmly believe that journalling is vital for both writers and for people trying to live a better life, and so I'm always thinking about the subject.

For me, filling a notebook boils down to three things:

  1. Deciding that you're going to do it, and following through
  2. Putting everything in one book instead of 700 that never get done
  3. Looking for things to keep in the pages so they get used and you're always thinking in terms of the book

Here's some ways to fill a notebook, for when you hit those days where you just don't know what to put on a page:

  • A page of todays...Today's lesson, Today's reading, Today's dreams, Today's goal movements, Today's stuff to work through. Whatever you're handling on a daily basis, talk about today's stuff.
  • Pick a topic that's bugging you, and write about it. What memories does it bring up? What stories do you think you could tell about it? How does it relate to previous days' pages and venting?
  • A page of ideas: take a clean page, set a timer for fifteen minutes, and then just fill the page with every idea that comes into your head, for anything, until the page is full or your timer runs out. No matter how half-baked, write it down.
  • LISTS. All the lists. A list per page. Ones that you come back to over and over, and ones you fill a page with now and don't worry about anymore. List anything.
  • Disjointed bits of story and character things: anything you want to put into a story and haven't found a place for yet, write that down.
  • Scrapbooky pages: any nice flat ephemera from your life, pressed between the pages for the day they go to.*
  • Awesome tweets from today or this week or this month or whatever. I usually print stuff like that up, but my printer is broken, so lately things like that get doodled in, and it's nice making them myself.
  • Start doing daily pages. Whatever else you use your notebook for, each morning, set up a daily page for the day. Mine has the day's to-do, what's on TV tonight and whether I have to review it tomorrow, the weather, how I feel, today's events, and one to three inspirational quotes or sayings for the day. Yours can have whatever you need, but it ensures that even if nothing else happens, you've filled one page and marked the day as existing.
  • Reading notes! Bonus points if you also talk about what you can learn from them, what you can apply to your own life or work, or what it means to you personally. It's good to articulate things like that in specific words.
  • What you dreamed last night. The more you write them down, the more you'll remember them, and the more you'll notice your own personal patterns and symbolism.
  • Calendars. Any sort of thing that helps you plan your future.
  • Pictures--actual photos, ones lifted from magazines, drawings. Basically anything that sparks something in you or that you want to remember. Bonus if you talk about it, note what you want to remember, discuss what it makes you think of.
  • Trackers. Track all the things, and fill pages with the tracked data.
  • Postits--I have approximately a million of them all around me all the time, and at the end of a week or two, or at the end of the month, I take down the old ones and stick them in my notebook. Page filled, notes kept, space made!
  • Testers. Test stamps, ink, pens, brushes, markers, holepunches, washi tape--anything that can be tested, test it on a tester page.
  • Transcribe interesting things you hear on TV, the radio, out in public. Write them down the way people talk. It'll help you develop a good ear for dialog, and it takes up space!
  • Notes of stuff that happens and needs to be remembered during the day, like a scratch page.
  • Questions that arise as you're going about your day--any question, of any seriousness level.
  • Notes for meetings, phone calls, directions for doing things.
  • Write down a memory, and what it means to you.
  • Complain about stuff so that you don't do it in real life and annoy everyone.
  • Daydream.
  • Talk to yourself about how your writing is going, what your ideal writing day is like, how you think you can improve and what you think is going well. Where do you think your story is going to go next?
  • Muse about what you need to do next to get stuff done, and what you're waiting on or where you need more information.
  • Work through whatever your mental state is, with an eye toward finding what you can learn from it, and what you can channel into work.
  • Practice some new skill.
How do you most like to fill a notebook?

*For instance: today, I pressed pretty fall leaves between the pages of my notebook.


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