Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A look at my writer's notebooks
Part 1 (The Early Years)

When I started my creative writing degree back in 2004 part of our assessment was to keep a "writer's notebook". It was something I'd never really done before. I'd kept personal journals which inevitably contained scribbled adolescent poems full of angst. I'd written stories and poems on sheets of lined paper or on my computer but I'd never had a specific place that was just for my writing. It was a new experience for me. The idea was that we were to go out and buy a cheap notebook that was small enough to carry around with us and write in it at every possible opportunity. We were prompted to write down snippets of overheard conversation, quotes we loved, character sketches, story or poetry ideas, rough drafts and any other musings. I got a lot out of it and it was something I continued to do over the years.

While re-arranging my office last week, I gathered all my notebooks in one place and it came to me that it might be kind of interesting to share my experience of keeping a writer's notebook. Any of you out there who are new to writing or are even just interested in the writing process, I know how daunting it can all seem when you're just starting out. You have no idea what to fill all those blank pages with. I know I felt like a total dweeb for the first year or so. I felt as though I was just pretending to be a writer.

And so I thought I'd do a little series of posts, showing you the evolution of my writer's notebooks over the past decade (wow that makes me feel old!).

I'm going to start with what I'm terming The Early Years.
These are the notebooks from the first two years of my degree, when I was just finding my feet as a writer and felt so completely inferior to the others in my class.

#1:: The first notebook I used was a small orange spiral bound pad. Pretty basic but small enough to keep in my jeans pocket with a bic biro slipped into the rings. I used this one between October and December of 2004.

As you can see from the photo above, I was in my pretentious first year writing student phase. I thought that everything that went in this notebook had to be meaningful and beautiful. I can't believe how different my writing was back then!

#2:: I followed that notebook up with the slightly more stylish black spiral bound notebook. This one lasted me from December 2004 until May 2005.

At this point I was beginning to notice more of the world around me and would often jot down ideas that came to me in my more academic lectures. The one on the right hand page was related to a piece of art we were discussing in a module called "American Visual Culture" that I took as part of my American Studies degree (I did a Joint Honours Degree).

#3:: My third notebook from the early years was a tiny orange spiral bound one. I find this one shockingly small when I look at it now. My tastes in notebooks have seriously evolved as you'll see in Part 2 of this series. I kept this one from June to September of 2005.

I think this was the notebook where I finally came to the realization that my notebooks were for me and not for some invisible audience. I felt able to scribble down snippets of stories, ideas, notes and questions I wanted to ask myself as well as filling it with bored doodles, phone numbers and to-do lists. I was finally beginning to get comfortable with what it meant to be a writer and how to merge that identity with the rest of my life.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little look at how my writing life began. I'm still trying to find my feet as a blogger and I've decided that I want to make this blog represent me more than it has done in the past, which is why I want to try and blog about my writing more. I'm thinking of maybe doing some posts aimed at new writers. What do you think? Would any of you be interested in reading that kind of thing? If you have any suggestions for things you'd like to read about or have any questions you'd like me to answer feel free to comment or drop me an email at

I hope you're all having a great Wednesday x


  1. This is such a wonderful post - it's so interesting seeing how writers start out, so this is a great little insight into you as a writer :) I think making your blog more personal is a great idea - it's currently what I'm trying to do also. I think it's a great idea to write to new writers - I'd certainly read! :)
    Tanya x x x

    1. Thanks for your feedback Tanya :) I think making a blog personal to you is important. With so many blogs around now, it's all the more important to put your own stamp on what you're writing.

  2. A nice little look into your notebook life - I liked reading the little snippets in the page. You can really see how your writing has changed over the years!

    ~ K


I <3 feedback so if you want to make me smile, leave me a comment