Presentation on theme: "Writer’s Notebooks: from Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook, Unlocking the Writer Within You "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it."— Presentation transcript:
Writer’s Notebooks: from Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook, Unlocking the Writer Within You "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." -Jack London "The mere habit of writing, of constantly keeping at it, of never giving up, ultimately teaches you how to write." -Gabriel Fielding
What is a Writer’s Notebook? A writer’s notebook is not a diary! Writers react. Writers need a place to record these reactions. That’s what a writer’s notebook is for. It gives you a place to write down what makes you angry or sad or amazed, to write down what you noticed and don’t want to forget. A writer’s notebook gives you a place to live like a writer.
Unforgettable Stories What moves you? Whenever you hear a story that stirs something inside of you, take out your notebook and write! Look for stories that inspire, fascinate, fill you with wonder. What stories keep tumbling through your mind even when you try not to think of them?
Fierce Wonderings Pay attention to what haunts you, what images or memories keep running around in your mind even when you try not to think about them. What do you wonder about? Explore these questions in your notebook.
Writing Small Use the writer’s notebook to jot down the important little details you notice or hear about. Details make writing come alive! You can train yourself to notice the details around you. Use all of your senses. Reread your notebook and look for places where you are using vague, general words. What other words could you use???
Mind Pictures Pay attention to your world. Drink in the world through your five senses. Use your notebook to capture mind “photographs” you take of the world around you. Collect mind pictures wherever you are: the city sidewalk, YMCA, church, train station, pet store. Use all your senses. Try to describe as carefully and honestly as you can.
Dreams Get into the habit of writing down dreams before they leave you. Your notebook can work as an alarm clock to remind you to wake up and pay attention to what’s happening in your world, both inside and out.
Snatches of Talk Writers are fascinated by talk, obsessed with what people say and how they say it, how they interrupt themselves, the words they repeat, the way they pronounce or mispronounce certain words. The way we talk says as ton about who we are. Notebooks can be filled with dialogue. Learn to listen wherever you go.
Lists Many writers keep lists: favorite books, movies to see, ideas for all sorts of writing projects. Keep a section in your notebook for your favorite words, unusual words, new words, and remarkable words. Listing facts is one of the best ways to brainstorm about a subject that interests you.
Memories Memories just may be the most important possession any writer has. As a writer, you need to connect yourself with your own unique history. When you explore memories in your writing, pay attention to the feelings connected to it. Exploring a memory includes looking into not only what happened but also how it affected you then, and how it affects you now.
Writing that Inspires The notebook can work as a scrapbook to collect important relics from your life. You can also use your notebook as a different sort of scrapbook, a place to gather writing that inspires you. Use your notebook as a container to hold all the beautiful writing you collect.
A Room of Your Own Your notebook is a room of your own. It provides a safe place to ask: What do I notice? What do I care about? What moves the deepest part of me? What do I want to remember for the rest of my life? What do I want to write about? How might I begin?
Rereading: Digging Out the Crystals How do you separate crystal from dull rock? Reread and sift out the most valuable pieces, bits that spark your own original writing. Ask yourself: What seems interesting/intriguing? What stuff do I care about? What ideas keep tugging at me? What seems bold and original? Reread. Look for seeds. Look for sparks.
Notebook Checklist Keep your notebook with you at all times. Date every entry. Do not skip pages. All drawings should have writing with them. Number the pages. Write daily. Vary your topics. Care for your notebook. Make sure there is evidence of what you’re learning in your notebook.
Life It was sunny and warm in New Hampshire the morning my mother was scheduled for heart bypass surgery in Dallas. I was hanging out the clothes to dry when I happened to glance at my watch: 11:00 A.M. New Hampshire time, which meant 9:00 A.M. Dallas time. My mother’s surgery had begun at 8:00 A.M., and
Life (continued) …I knew enough about bypass surgery to know the surgeons typically stop the heart to work on it. So at that moment while I was busy hanging wet shirts on a clothesline my mother’s heart was, in all likelihood, stopped. I left the shirts, went inside, and began to write:
The Morning My Mom’s Heart Was Stopped The morning Mom had bypass surgery I wrote a little but I couldn’t concentrate so I cleaned up the kitchen, did laundry and hung it out on the clothesline. I pinned up the shirts and imagined the surgeon’s expensive hands, how he would pin off her arteries and connect them to the heart-lung machine.
The Morning My Mom’s Heart Was Stopped For an hour or two her heart would be stopped. Stopped- the metronome I heard even inside her womb. Stopped- the beating that filled my ears while I dozed in her arms. Stopped- while the surgeon tried to work what improvements could be made. The wet shirts flashed in the spring sun. A breeze sprang up and filled the shirts with invisible torsos that swelled. And vanished.
Writing in your journal If I want to write movingly I must first pay attention to what moves me. I must be connected to it. That’s what the notebook is for. It gives you a roomy space to record and explore what amazes, delights, disgusts, or appalls you.
Journal Entry Took Joseph (his six-month birthday) to the walk-in studio at Walmart. The photographer looked like she was no more than twenty-five. “I’ve got some great props,” she said with a smile. “Take off his shirt.” First she photographed him in a bathtub complete with soap and a rubber ducky. Next she had him wearing a helmet, holding a nerf football. After that she took a picture of him with a baseball glove and cap.
By now Joseph had had just about enough. “Just one more,” she begged. She put a cowboy hat on his head. And then she gave him the gun. Toy pistol. Instinctively he put it in his mouth. “Isn’t that cute?” she asked, grinning. I didn’t know what to say.