Keeping a Writer's Notebook by Ralph Fletcher. Heinemann, 1996. I am re-reading this because I want to work on writing more intentionally this summer. I have kept writer's notebooks for years but I don't really like them. Fletcher suggests using a notebook as a place to save ideas, questions, quotations that catch your ear, lists, images, or short pieces that are seeds for greater things. Just a sentence or description of an important moment can be enough to later spark finer writing. I know he is right, but I find keeping to a notebook hard to do.
The thing is, I hate my handwriting. I am dyslexic and I get really frustrated with spelling difficulties, errors crossed out and botched sentences. I hate how ugly the first draft is and I hate going back to read what I wrote. Since I've been writing on the computer I am much happier. Spell check has made me a better speller and the editing options are so much more graceful and smooth with a word processor. I'd much rather keep my journal on the computer. I type faster than I write.
But Fletcher makes a case for keeping a pen and paper journal. This slim volume is a series of short chapters giving key points to the benefits and techniques that work best for a variety of writers. I am finding it inspiring. It is challenging me to broaden my vision for writing, while at the same time zooming my focus down to the small moments of daily life that hold intense emotion and meaning. This is a book to savor and keep close at hand for the times when my well is dry and my edges feel dulled.
What writing books do you keep close at hand? What is your experience with a writer's notebook? Do you find it helpful, challenging, inspiring?