From Kate's Writer's Crate…
If you are a writer or really want to be one, writing in notebooks is, I believe, essential. Not sure what to write about or need inspiration, read Writers and Their Notebooks edited by Diana M. Raab where 24 writers, including Sue Grafton and John DuFresne, expound upon and/or share excerpts from their notebooks.
This thought-provoking book is divided into five parts:
Part 1—The Journal as Tool
James Brown (page 8): Writers…need to hang on to our experiences, both the crushing and the joyous, and through reflection, either by keeping a journal before we begin a project or during its writing, we hope to come to a better understanding of who we are, what we've become, and where we are going. That's where you'll find your best stories, the ones that makes sense of the chaos we call our lives.
Sue Grafton (page 9): The most valuable tool I employ in the writing of a private eye novel is the working journal…from "C" Is for Corpse on, I've kept a daily log of work in progress. This notebook (usually four times longer than the novel itself) is like a letter to myself, detailing every idea that occurs to me as I proceed.
Part 2—The Journal for Survival
Kathleen Gerard (page 63): [After the unexpected death of her father when she was 14]…My early efforts at keeping a journal were sporadic, and what I conveyed was rather repetitive. But that was the beauty of it—there were no rules…My journal became a safe place where my voice and my feelings could finally be heard, and my perceptions counted.
Part 3—The Journal for Travel
Wendy Call (page 87): My journal is like a nest, a tangle of shiny trinkets and bits of string: words, sentence fragments, disconnected paragraphs, pages torn from magazines, photographs, even small objects glued into holes I've carved into pages…Dorothy Allison calls her writer's journal "a witness, a repository, and a playground.
Bonnie Morris (page 98): A date with my journal is the most pleasant of outings. Off we go to the movies, where so many strange childhood memories float to the surface in the twenty minutes before the lights go down. Everyone wonders if I'm a film critic. But no…I'm using that comfy, faux-velvet chair time, Junior Mints melting on my tongue, to write about last week's insult or this year's romance or any number of thoughts.
Part 4—The Journal as Muse
John DuFresne (page 119): You're a writer now, and a writer writes. Any time, any place. That's his or her job. So take your tools with you wherever you go. The Muse is as likely to sit across the bar from you as to come by your office for a chat, and you want to be prepared when she taps you on the shoulder…
Part 5—The Journal for Life
Kyoko Mori (page 160): I allow my thoughts to roam and meander rather than come to the point of order too soon. In the process, I usually discover that my mind is not as empty as I feared. There are a lot of ideas I've been tossing around, and they even have an overall pattern and direction…In my notebook, I can look for the story I would tell…
(Kyoko Mori also loves writing with a blue Pilot Vball pen—although extra fine instead of fine point.)
At the end, Editor Diana M. Raab wrote: Appendix I: Use Journaling to Spark Your Writing listing tips and Appendix II: A Journaling Workout listing writing prompts.
A long list of sources and further readings at the end of the book provides even more inspiration.
Since most writers work alone, it is comforting to find others who keep notebooks and are willing to open them up to fellow scribes.