I’ve been talking a lot about writing and notebooks, but I haven’t shared too many specifics about my notebook. So, it’s clearly time to talk about what makes my writer’s notebook work for me.

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Coffee, a pen cup, and a stack of gold coil-bound notebooks on a desk with the text "What Makes My Writer's Notebook Work for Me:

Am I writing a whole post about how to write in a writing notebook? Kind of.

Look. Writing is tough, and the more you do it, the harder it gets. So anything that helps you along the way is definitely a worthwhile thing.

With that, let’s talk about notebooks, and specifically, my writer’s notebook.

Some Points on Writer’s Notebooks

I’ve written extensively about using a writer’s notebook. So, if you want some more information about how to start one or what you should keep in it, check out this list of posts.

  1. What is a Writer’s Notebook? | Are you new to this whole writer’s notebook thing? Start here. This post will give you the foundation for what this is all about.
  2. How to Start a Writer’s Notebook | So, you’re ready to make your notebook a reality. Here’s how you can jump in with both feet.
  3. How to Keep a Writer’s Notebook | There’s no hard and fast rules here, but if you want some ideas and inspiration, check out this post for how to keep your notebook.
  4. Tips for Organizing a Writer’s Notebook | Keeping your ideas in some semblance of order can be tough, but these tips will help.
  5. Writer’s Notebook Organization for Even the Most Scatterbrained Creative | Are you a creative tornado? Then this post will help you with your writer’s notebook.
  6. Setting Up a Writer’s Notebook | Not sure what to include or what you actually need? Check out this post.
  7. Writer’s Notebook Ideas | Want to get the most out of your notebook? Check out these ideas for collections to keep in your writer’s notebook.
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My Writer’s Notebook

Every writer is different. That should be obvious. So it stands to reason that every writer needs something different from their writer’s notebook. Below is a list of things specific to mine. They may be helpful for you, but they may not.

In the end, do what makes the most sense for you and the project you’re working on.

001: My writer’s notebook is specific to the project.

If you take one thing away from this post, know that I think this should be the golden rule for how to use a writer’s notebook.

Every project is different, and every project requires different types of work from the writer. For me, I like to keep a different notebook for every project. It helps me separate the ideas.

And because every project has a different tone and theme, separation helps with that.

With that said, I did a post and video for One Book July 2022 that featured the notebook I’m currently using for my novel series. You can check out the set up in that post. If you’d like to see an updated version with all my writing and madness, just let me know.

002: I use washi tape and stickers.

Look. I get it. These aren’t typically the sort of implements people think of when they think of writing. But maybe you should.

These item help me separate out different sections of my writer’s notebook and let me organize it a bit better than it would be otherwise. And, for what it’s worth, I did just order a page tab paper punch, so there’s a non-zero chance that I will be adding tabs to this notebook as well, just to make it easier on me to use.

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The more tools you have at your disposal to organize your ideas or keep them in some semblance of order the better.

003: There’s no pressure.

Okay. So. We’ve all seen the images of bullet journals on Pinterest and Instagram. The hand lettering is perfect and the colors match perfectly. The pages are laid out so thoughtfully and everything achieves the highest of aesthetic ideals.

Your writer’s notebook doesn’t have to be that way, and my writer’s notebook certainly isn’t.

For me, I know I mostly need that as a space to get ideas out of my head. It’s not a space for perfect handwriting or even the sort of pages that would look good on Instagram.

If you want that, there’s no shame in going for it.

But I also think there’s something nice about giving yourself some space to just chill out and do what you want to do with the tools you have. You don’t need to put expectations on the notebook. Just let it be there to catch your ideas as they come out of your head.

004: I picked a notebook I liked.

Yes, you can get spiral notebooks at the dollar store. In fact, I have a few that I use for daily notes and scrap paper. But when it comes to something that I’m going to be carrying around for a while, I always want to have a notebook I know will last.

And there’s something to be said for a notebook that feels good to write in. When the paper is thick and the ink doesn’t bleed through, it’s just good to know your ideas are going to last in that notebook.

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Plus, if it lays flat and doesn’t have a stupid coil that gets caught on your clothes, even better.

005: I gave myself wiggle room.

I sectioned off my notebook for the various things it would contain. Then, I made sure there were some extra pages here and there for anything that came up, or I just needed more room.

Giving yourself wiggle room is great if you’re the type to freak out when you feel like you need to start a whole new notebook after one mistake. This wiggle room will give you the space to tear out a page if you need to.

What Does Your Writing Notebook Look Like?

What are some non-writing tools you need to keep your notebook organized? How do you pick a good notebook? Do you start a new notebook with each project?

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