In another post I mentioned my spiral notebook library. It is growing and is filled with juicy fodder for my work. The pages are overflowing with my own ideas drawn from reading other authors, instructional excerpts from books on writing, character profiles I am building, chapters of various book projects, small nuggets of grammar, vocabulary – you name it, every aspect of writing.
A review of any of these notebooks opens writing flow like a rushing river and I do not exaggerate. Scraps of thoughts written months ago seem to have germinated in my brain without my realizing it. Revisiting an entry provokes an “Aha!” moment and I’m writing and fleshing out the idea without effort.
It’s not all magic. I create characters for creating characters’ sake. It’s a good exercise and I plug them into all sorts of stories. Over time, I jot down notes on body types, idiosyncrasies in movement, speech, tics, shading, hair styles, impediments, medical appliances used… So, I have a wealth of scraps in my notebooks that I combine to make interesting characters.
Additionally, the notebook library is valuable to me as a record of graded importance of instructional books on writing I have read. Not only have I extracted information from these books, but I have notated the book title, author, page number and sometimes the actual quote from the book that I found worthwhile. This enables me to go back and see just how much material in a particular book struck me as important for my growth as an author/writer.
From these entries, I am reminded how each individual author’s words affected me. I can evaluate how their messages added to improvement in my work. My impressions and thoughts related to the content are preserved in my notebooks. And, later, these entries are ready-made remarks for effortless writing of book reviews.
We write to be read, but we also read to write. An examination of a book’s content and how it benefited us is worthwhile to share with other writers. Telling others what we found valuable in a book can guide them in their choices of reading material and, perhaps, save them time and money.
Mining my collection of spiral notebooks is a concrete way to beat writer’s block. From the myriad of subject matter recorded, I am jettisoned into writing. Then it grows into a whole article or short story or a scene to insert somewhere else.
If a spiral notebook library does not appeal to you as a useful writer’s tool, what method do you use to never see a blank screen again?