Monday, March 3, 2014

Fill a Notebook a Month

From Kate's Writing Crate…

        Now is a good time to start filling a notebook a month as recommended by Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Yes, it's already March 3, but writers need challenges and deadlines so pick up a notebook or a legal pad if that's what you have and GO!

        When I first started doing this, I was excited and nervous, but also committed. I wanted to be a writer and here was an easy writing project.
Yet there were still days I didn't write at all. And there were days that I didn't have any idea what to write about when I did pick up my pen. Sometimes I just started writing 'I have nothing to say' repeatedly until I did--and I always did.
I filled that first notebook in a month and continued filling monthly notebooks for well over a decade. All that practice is why I now write and edit for a living. And I still fill notebooks, but every other month currently.
Writers write if we give ourselves permission, time, and place.

As Goldberg states, "Give yourself permission to write the worst junk." The goal is to fill the notebook with ideas, observations, and thoughts. It's not meant for publication so you can relax and write what you want.

Since you MUST fill a notebook by the end of every month, you are forced to make time to write. Deadlines are a part of every writer's life. Get used to it now.
The place to write is in your notebook, but it's portable so you can have it with you any place you go. There's no excuse not to write in waiting rooms, on public transportation, if you arrive early and/or the person you are meeting is late, in between loads of laundry, during lunch and at breaks. A few minutes here and there add up and so do the pages.
There are many benefits to filling a notebook in a month and continuing to do so for years and even decades:
Practice makes you a better writer. The more notebooks  you fill, the better writer you will become.
Seeing  your stack of filled notebooks grow is proof that you are a writer.
The satisfaction of meeting your monthly goal is a driving force to continue.
You learn to jot things down to capture moments.
You can expand on your observations later—even turning them into poems, essays, short stories, books, plays, songs, and articles.
You learn to pay attention to conversations you overhear so you can improve the dialogue in your work.
You learn to capture details about characters, locations, fashion, cuisine, etc. to ground scenes in your work.
Deadlines are not so fearsome when you meet them on a regular basis.
It is fun to flip through old notebooks for writing ideas—and to see what interested you back in time.
But mostly, filling monthly notebooks keeps you writing no matter what!
        Writers write so start writing now!
How has filling a notebook a month improved your writing?

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