It’s nearly impossible to keep track of your ideas and the project you’re working on without writing anything down. That’s why knowing how to keep a writer’s notebook can keep you organized and on track with your writing projects.

an open notebook with a pen and a mug of coffee with the text "How to Keep a Writer's Notebook"

There are tons of posts online about writers and their notebooks. Hell, your favorite writer probably has a notebook you can see somewhere online.

The idea is simple, and every single writer is different. So don’t feel like you have to match the methods and systems another writer used.

Basically, you just need something to write in. That notebook will become the vessel for your ideas, your project notes, to do lists, and research you do.

You can use a spiral, a Moleskine, a composition book, or any of the various writers favorite notebooks out there.

But before you choose, check out this post on what is a writer’s notebook, and this post on what is a writer’s journal. Thinking about how you will use a notebook is a great way to pick what kind of notebook you’ll need for the project.

How to Keep a Writer’s Notebook

You can select a fancy leather writer’s notebook cover, or you can simply print a writer’s notebook PDF. Whatever you decide, here’s some tips for how to keep a writer’s notebook.

Setting Up a Writer’s Notebook

Setting up a writer’s notebook can be a chore. If you’re in your head about what you may or may not need, don’t overthink it. The first step is to think about what you need from a notebook.

Whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo, or just writing a book at a normal time of the year, your notebook needs to fulfill your writerly needs. Ask what do you need in Your NaNoWriMo notebook. Ask what sort of things you’ll be tracking. Think about how you like to work and what’s important to you and your story.

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If you’re a new writer, you may not know what you need just yet. So, no better way to get an idea than just by jumping right in. If that sounds like the best method for you, then there’s this post on how to start a writer’s notebook.

Of course, maybe you don’t fully know what you need just yet, but you also have some ideas. I have this post on setting up a writer’s notebook for a project you have in mind. It’s the perfect halfway point between just diving in and being a seasoned notebook pro.

How to Use a Writer’s Notebook

Once you have the notebook all set up and ready to go, then it’s time to use it. But how do you go about doing that?

Well, every writer is different, and every writer will organize their notebook differently. I do think it can be helpful to see how others do it, and for that reason, I’m going to share some tips.

As a writer, you may feel like a bit of a chaotic mess. To be fair, most of us are. And if that’s the case, you may be struggling with keeping your writer’s notebook in some semblance of order. Bro, I feel you.

But luckily for you, I have this post on writer’s notebook organization for even the most scatterbrained creative. It’s got tons of tips and tricks to help you figure out some sort of system for your notebook. And at the end of the day, remember, it’s your notebook. It doesn’t have to be perfect. So let the chaos reign if it works for you.

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If you lean less toward chaos and more toward commonplace disorganization, then I’ve also got your back. Sometimes you just need a few ideas to get your notebook back in shape, and for that, I have these tips for organizing a writer’s notebook. Consider that post your permission slip to get as many highlighters and page flags as you need for your sanity.

Writer’s Bullet Journal

If you’ve been around the planning space for the past seven or eight years, then you’ve heard of a bullet journal. And while most people use them for planning day-to-day, you can also use them to plan a novel.

While bullet journaling may not be for you, I think it helps to think in terms of collections. If you have a writer’s notebook, you’ll most likely section it off in different chunks, and those chunks will be used for different things.

Bullet journaling works the same way. You section off chunks of the notebook for planning, but also for collections. Collections are lists or aggregated information about a specific topic. It could be a list of movies you want to watch, notes from a particular class or workshop you attended, or just some ideas you had and want to implement.

You can also add collections to your writer’s notebook, and I have this post on writer’s notebook ideas which covers what kinds of collections you may want to have in your writer’s bullet journal or notebook.

Admittedly, not all projects lend themselves to collections. But many do. If you’re working on a series or you have a story world you’re trying to build, collections could be a good way to keep track of it.

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How Do You Keep a Writer’s Notebook?

How do you organize your writer’s notebook? Do you hold onto old journals and notebooks? Have you ever thought about throwing away all your old notebooks to save your sanity?

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