• Valerie Miller

Noteable Moments



I have always loved notebooks. I particularly adore the pretty ones with little phrases embossed on the front. I have collected a neat little stack of decorative notebooks with inspirational little sayings such as:

“Great ideas”

“A few little notes”

“Small notes, big dreams”

My notebook comes with me everywhere. I tucked it away in my handbag, always with a pencil popped inside ready for an idea, a snippet of dialogue, an interesting name or to sketch in. It’s become an essential tool as an emerging writer. Notebooks are an organic part of my writing life. Writing in my notebook is never scheduled, nor is it a job. It is a sweet little love affair where my ideas are given life and where creativity flourishes.


Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain.Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory. Jack London

There is no neatness or order. Instead it is filled with rapid scribbles, words plastered across the page, scratched out lists and rough sketches. It’s a draft of ideas and like all drafts, it is messy. For me, creativity is inspired by disorder. I read somewhere that ‘ideas come from messiness.’

I have a vivid imagination and my mind is always making up stories inspired by a particular moment in my day. Sometimes these story ideas come to me when I am socialising, running errands, at work, doing the housework, jogging, walking the dog or driving. My notebooks are filled with a collection of interesting and unique ideas that have the potential to grow into wonderful narratives.

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. William Wordsworth

When I am drafting my novel, any plotting or planning idea that I think of, is scribbled into my notebook. If I don’t record any ideas or thoughts as soon as possible, I know they will disappear. Forgotten forever. This is a harsh lesson I have learnt too often.

I am not alone in my love of keeping a notebook. My favourite writers have kept notebooks, journals or diaries. Virginia Woolf kept a diary until her death. For Woolf, her journaling provided her with a place to practice her writing craft. Ernest Hemmingway always carried his notebook with him. In his memoir, A Moveable Feast, he wrote that ‘I belong to this notebook and pencil’. Joan Didion was a prolific journal writer. Her eloquent essay, ‘On Keeping a Notebook’, highlighted her love, respect and meditation on writing in a journal.

As a writer your notebook can:

· Help you to remember your ideas

· Solve plot or character problems

· House snippets of dialogue

· List interesting names of people and places

· Allow you to purge the thoughts in your head, placing them on the page to give you clarity and focus

Writing can be a lonely activity. For me, my notebook is a trusting, faithful friend who is always there, ready to take my ideas, my problems and to vent.

My notebook is my best friend.

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