Teachers Write 6/24/13 – Mini-Lesson Monday: Notebooks

Welcome to writing camp, everybody!

Teachers Write! is a virtual summer writing camp for teachers and librarians. Click here to sign up if you’d like to join us!  If you’re on Facebook & want to also join our group there,here’s the link. Then click “Join Group.”

A quick note about blogging your Teachers Write experience: It’s GREAT if you want to set up a blog where you share all of your writing from this summer. One important request: Please do not copy and paste the mini-lessons or writing prompts – publish only your own writing on your blog. If you’d like to reference the ideas shared here, providing a link is the best way to do that. Thanks!

Today’s mini-lesson is all about keeping a writer’s notebook. When people ask me about how to get started writing, I almost always share the same two pieces of advice, whether those people are nine years old or thirty-five, or seventy. The first thing is this: Read. Readers develop an ear for what good sentences sound like and a sense for what makes a story work. Reading will make you a better writer. The second piece of advice is: Write. This may sound ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how many people talk about wanting to write without actually sitting down and doing it. A writer’s notebook is a good way to start.

There are some very strict rules for having a writer’s notebook. Here they are:

Rule #1: Write in it.

Rule #2: There are no other rules.

 Because here’s the thing… A writer’s notebook can have a million different jobs. Some people scribble a few lines first thing every morning when they wake up. Some write throughout the day, at breakfast, in the grocery checkout line, waiting for the kids to get out of school.  You can use a writer’s notebook to journal, to scribble story ideas, to record snatches of conversation or names you like or the way the leaves make swishing sounds in the wind. You get the idea…

So if you don’t already have one, choose a notebook. And write things in it. Here are some of mine…

I am a multiple-notebook kind of writer. I usually have at least three going at once. The little black ones are “idea books,” and every time I get a new book idea while I’m working on a project, I scribble a note on one page — it only gets a page — and then I go back to work on my work-in-progress. These books are where I go sniffing around for stories when I’m ready to start something new.

I have a shameless addiction to Eco-Jot notebooks, and I often have a big one that I’m using for taking research notes on whatever book I’m working on as well as a small one that I carry around for all sorts of scribbles. The thing about my writer’s notebooks is this… They aren’t sacred. They are full of all kinds of things, often all mixed together. Here are just a few random notebook pages:

Here’s a page where I was brainstorming ideas for HIDE AND SEEK…

Here’s a list of questions I wanted to remember to ask one of the tornado specialists I went to interview in Oklahoma when i was researching EYE OF THE STORM

Here’s a page I scribbled when I was outside one spring day, writing with my 7th grade students. We were practicing noticing details.

My notebooks are full of things like this, as well as collections of names, descriptions of clothes I borrowed from strangers to save for my characters later on, blurted “what-ifs” that I scribbled because I thought they might help solve story problems, funny things my kids and their friends said, all mixed in with a scattering of to-do lists, grocery lists, and things like this…

This eclectic mix makes for a lot of searching when I need to find something, but the whole mishmash also creates a fertile breeding ground for fresh ideas. It works for me. You’ll figure out what works best for you.

Your writing notebook doesn’t have to be perfect or sacred. It doesn’t have to be tidy. It should be something you reach for often, something that hangs out with you so much you feel naked if you’ve left home without it. Practice having it and using it. Practice writing.

Your assignment for today: If you don’t already have a writer’s notebook, find one.  Write something. Need inspiration?  Jo Knowles shares a Monday Morning Warm-Up on her blog each week. Visit her… she’ll ask good questions to get you started.

In the comments: Share a few lines of what you wrote in your notebook today, OR tell us a little about what kinds of things you like to write/sketch in your writer’s notebook! Please note: If you’re a first-time commenter, I’ll have to approve your comment before it appears. This may take a while if I’m not at my computer, but don’t worry – I’ll get to it and it will show up later on!

Giveaway: In honor of the first day of writing camp, I’ll mail a signed copy of HIDE AND SEEK to one commenter, drawn at random. The winner will be announced Friday morning!

456 Replies on “Teachers Write 6/24/13 – Mini-Lesson Monday: Notebooks

  1. I love my writer’s notebooks. I’ve kept them in one way or another since the fourth grade,I’m forty-one years old now…you do the math. I completely agree with Kate’s rules for notebooks and I’ve tried keeping more than one at a time and I find that doesn’t work for me, so EVERYTHING goes into my notebook (and I mean everything)! Ideas, notes from meetings, prayers, stories about school, cards from my students…everything. Here are the musts for my writer’s notebooks:
    1. No lines on the page
    2. Color (I have an obscene amount of markers and colored pens)
    3. I write when I feel like it (my goal is to write in it everyday, but that doesn’t always happen)
    4. I name my notebooks
    Kate’s mini-lesson has inspired me to look back on my notebooks and blog about it. Thanks for an inspiring and wonderful first mini-lesson!

    1. I hope when you blog about your notebook, you’ll share a photo – it sounds like one of those beautiful writer’s notebooks that I always envy (mine are all chicken-scratchy)!

    2. Michelle Hastings, I love your BLOG! How can I follow you for updates and new entries?

  2. Writing is important to me because my thinking is unique. I am one of a kind. There is no other me who has had the same experiences. Sharing my thinking and my experiences encourages me to work harder and think more deeply, creating a circle that continues on!

    1. I love this line:

      There is no other me who has had the same experiences.

      So important to remind students of this, too – they are the only ones who can tell their unique stories.

  3. I like to write down my “I wonders” in my writing notebooks. I find that by writing them down it and revisiting them it helps the thought process.

  4. I fill my writer’s notebook with observations, thoughts, lists, poems, sketches, quotes, photos, and artifacts. I decorate the covers with inspiring quotes.

    1. I love the idea of including artifacts! I used to do this when I was a kid and once opened my notebook to find a very moldy smooshed flower. (I hadn’t quite mastered the art of pressing and drying first!)

  5. I too am a keeper of several notebooks, of various sizes and descriptions. My littlest book goes with me in my purse or in the car ~ it is the collector of “loose” things …. those ideas just floating around out there, that when you encounter them you wished you had paper and pen (which by the way this notebook has a pencil tucked inside). My next journal is spiral bound and becomes my brain dump – or tease it out spot. That’s my place to go and jot, which is where I’ll be heading as soon as I finish here. The third journal is the most precious, it is a shared journal – between my husband and I. We each write in it every day (and have done so for 34+ years). It is filled with treasured moments of shared memories and has become a precious jewel within our family. I have “played” with electronic journaling but there is just something about the hardbound notebook in my hand that elicits a great deal of comfort and excitement at the same time.

    1. As much as I love my blog, I’m with you on the appeal of the paper notebook. And I adore your “shared notebook” idea! What a treasure those books must be for your family. The parent/teacher in me is thinking now that it would be great fun to have a shared notebook with kids, too.

      1. I have a shared notebook with my youngest daughter from when she was ten. It was waiting by my bed every night with the thoughts she saved to share with me. It’s one of my most prized possessions. An English teacher one of my other daughters had asked each student to share a journal with someone important to them to discuss books they were reading. I loved that too and my daughter and I read many books together. That was awesome. I tried it with the 6th graders I was working with at the time and we did it on Blackboard and they chose a person at school to write with. The people they chose were honored and they shared their thoughts and feelings for 10 weeks. Those students just graduated Saturday. I sw one of them and they reminded me that they journaled with the phys Ed teacher and still had a close relationship with that teacher. Now this year I’m going to figure out how to help my K’s discover that writing creates bonds.

    2. Love the idea of a shared notebook with your spouse. Wish I had done this with my spouse.

    3. First timer here! REading this reminded me of the journal my daughter and I kept together when she was in 5th grade! I remember her writing about wanting to shave her legs. Oh dear! I’ll have to find that journal now that she’s 31 and a mama herself.

      1. What great memories you must have captured! I love the idea of keeping a shared journal. Our family journals together, my mom, my son and I, but not in the same book. Maybe next family trip we’ll do that.

  6. Ahhh, it feels so good to be here. It’s sunny and nearly 80 degrees already on this Maine June morning. I can’t wait to take my kids to the beach so I can write! My plan is to get a new summer writing notebook before we head there. I am never very good about keeping a notebook, but this summer I plan to get better at it. Thank you Kate for the inspiration!

  7. Love Kate’s post and totally agree about reading and writing. I have multiple notebooks going, but in addition, I carry a little dictaphone recorder around with me–it’s the size of a pack of gum, and it’s great for dictating ideas as you drive your kids to soccer practice!

    1. Sarah, that’s brilliant, and I think I need one of those. Like today. Or at least before my next road trip. What kind do you have?

      1. Kate–I’ve gone through several! I just get whatever old thing they have at Radio Shack (they usually cost about $40). I like the ones that come with a plug-in USB so I can upload the audio to my computer (if, say, I have to interview someone).

      1. I use the Voice Memo app on my phone. It came in handy this year on my long commute so I could talk through ideas and go back to them later!

  8. I’ve been working through the book INSIDE WRITING for the past few days, so the the last thing I wrote in my journal was an “I’m From” poem (this is Quick Write #5 in the book). I’m trying to develop the habit of carrying something with me at all times to jot down ideas and inspiration. My journal mostly lives on my nightstand right now 🙂

      1. Just looked up the title and found several different ones. Can you share the author as well? Thanks!

  9. Kate,
    You have stumbled upon my current dilemma —- my writer’s notebook. Actually, my dilemma is tech and notebooks. I find myself more and more with an iPad, computer, or iPhone in my hand. Getting to my notebook requires a journey to my dresser drawer. Most days, that’s a lot of work (hahaha). So what happens is I scratch it into one of ten different apps, tell myself I will remember it later or don’t get it written down at all.

    I asked this very question yesterday on Twitter and am so glad you started the event with it. Getting my notebook dilemma figured out is one of my goals in #teacherswrite.

    Reading your post I have decided I need to think about:
    What types of things do I record?
    What works in tech and what works on paper?
    What do I use from my notebook?
    How do I use my notebook?
    What apps allow sync between devices?

    I think this will likely be a post this week. I really wish I could just sit in a room and listen to people talk about their notebooks. I am completely fascinated by the current Taylor Swift commercial at the movies. The sponsor would be sad to know I have no idea what it is for, but have you noticed her notebook?

    Looking forward to learning,


    1. I have this same dilemma. I think it’s why I don’t ever follow through on a notebook. I write like three or four times and then leave it by my bedside. Yet I ALWAYS have my phone with me. Thinking about what this means for me.

    2. I LOVE writing in notebooks but I do understand the tech dilemma. I tried keeping an online notebook on my iPad. It works for some people, but I felt lost! There’s something about the physical act of writing that gets me. I’m blogging about this later today (with pictures) and I hope you stop by to read. Good luck!

    3. I recommend EverNote for a digital notebook. You can access it from multiple devices. You can put in pictures, websites, pdfs, & word documents. You can organize it very easily. It’s a great app/website.

    4. I have been fighting this issue as well. I am currently using Evernote to record quick ideas on my phone when I don’t have a paper/ pencil but have a writers journal that I use to sit down and brainstorm ideas in.

    5. I struggle with the digital notes, too – I do type into my iPhone once in a while, but I often forget about it and only discover it by accident later on.

      1. I mostly use Evernote and the Notes app in my phone for jotting down ideas because I usually have some kind of tech with me. I created a secret Pinterest board for my WIP so that I can search for ideas or inspiration and pin them to come back to later. That was an ideas from Lindsey Leavitt and it has been fun!

  10. I love my writer’s notebook. I usually purchase one that is unlined so I can do weird things like doodle freely and (for example) draw a map of the backyard I grew up in. I make a lot of lists, too. Like Jerry Spinelli did in his memoir Knots on a Yo-Yo String, I am currently working on a list called “Things I Wished I Could Do” that I add to periodically.

    1. I love the blank notebooks too. I write huge and lines feel tight constraining. When I have a page without lines its pure freedom.

  11. I have always kept a notebook, so I have quite a stash. Now I like to designate one funky notebook per school year to put my notes in, that way I can search through it by year. Everything goes in the notebook…research,thoughts, ideas to use. Works for me!

    1. When I was teaching, I had a “school notebook” that lived in my classroom, along with the one I carried around. It’s a great reminder to write & reflect.

      1. I have a school journal (composition notebook usually) and a personal jornal or writer’s notbook too. I seem to live and play in seceral journals at once, but I do like keeping my school reflections separate.

  12. I have been keeping a writer’s notebook for a few years now, but it began even before that because I kept a daily journal from the time I was 11 years old until I was about 23. The daily journal evolved into a blog which evolved into a writer’s notebook.

    I found myself recently using my writer’s notebook just to record all of the funny and endearing things my students say to perhaps use them in a future novel I hope to one day write.

    The other day I used my writer’s notebook to help me create a ‘Thoughts from Places” video about my trip to Iceland.

    Here is a snippet of what I wrote in my notebook:
    But then we’d find hidden gems like this secluded glacial lagoon filled with icebergs, but seemingly bereft of tourists and we’d be reminded of the beauty and enchantment contained on this little blue planet we call earth.

    And here is the final video:

    1. This…

      “I found myself recently using my writer’s notebook just to record all of the funny and endearing things my students say to perhaps use them in a future novel I hope to one day write.”
      …is how I started writing THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z!

  13. Just pulled out my last used journal, and the last date in it – July 2, 2012. It’s a journal received at the 2012 Boothbay Harbor Literary Retreat with Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Sara Kajdar, Chris Crutcher, Linda Rief and and special guest speakers Rob Fletcher and Donalyn Miller. It was a week of inspiration in a beautiful, relaxing location, just what every teacher needs after a busy school year. I’d recommend the conference to anyone who can go – they even give you a journal of your choice the first day, and last year at this time I was recommending Teachers Write to people there. 😀
    My lack of keeping up with the journal has been only due to the fact that I do most of my writing on the computer. Lots and lots and lots of writing, and I refuse to buy another journal because I have so many that I’ve started with, but seldom ever use up. So, I’m back to this one, and I’ll do my best to use it once more. I’ll admit it was refreshing to see snapshots of Kate’s journal. OK – this doesn’t have to be as sacred as I’ve always thought it needed to be. Yay!

    1. Just so you know, writing on a computer isn’t somehow lesser than writing in a notebook – it’s just that we find ourselves places without the computer, and notebooks fit in pockets, so… 🙂

  14. I keep a number of different notebooks as well. There’s the one for school decorated with my students for writing alongside them during the year; and the one in the car, the one next to my computer, and the one I don’t want to write in because it is so new and pretty. And people are always giving them to me as gifts, so I never run out. Here’s a blog post about my journals: http://reflectionsontheteche.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/my-journals/
    Thanks for Teachers Write! Such a great way to get us all writing and talking and generating support.

  15. Hello, my name is Sonja, and I am a notebook addict. Actually, I must admit the true scope of my problem—-put me in any office supply or stationary shop and I become absolutely giddy. The pens! The notebooks! The pretty little paperclips in bright colors, shaped like stars!
    I love that you shared your notebook—and I love that it isn’t tidy and perfect–because mine never are either!

  16. I keep multiple composition notebooks to write my ideas in. One is usually set aside for my current WIP, and another for new ideas. Usually it’s just a line or description of something I see that I add. I tend to create a collage of photos on the outside of my notebook that represents what I’m writing.

  17. Vacationing here in beautiful sunny California and jotting a jumbled sentence or two in my notebook. I’ll come back and “tweak” them later.
    Dr. Zombie, I liked to call him that because he was always so emotionless every word that crossed his somber lips stunk of death and decay, was not exactly the type of doctor you’d like to have delivering your baby. Dr. Zombie loved to rehash various macabre scenarios every time I had an appointment. He would flash grotesque pictures and say ” if this happens, your baby will die” or “This might happen, and then the baby will die.”
    After leaving a second appointment in tears, I told my husband, “I don’t care if what that man says is true, he is NOT going to deliver my baby!”

    1. Oh…I think Dr. Zombie needs to be a character in something. Love this! (I mean…I don’t approve of him…but I love him as a character!)

  18. I keep one writer’s notebook at a time, mostly because I like to go back and complete trains of thought. My notebook has artifacts, too – to jog my memory, or to inspire something new. I’ll have to look into Econotes – sounds efficient! Thanks so much for this summer writing institute, Kate – I’m so looking forward to it!

  19. I have started numerous times journaling, but I was too strict about it. My rules, like only writing in one journal and only keeping it in one place so I could find it, were too restricting. I think I will try again with your rules! Plus, I always have my Kindle with me with a great notepad app. I already use it to take notes at meetings, so why not use the same app for my writer’s notebook? Thanks for broadening my thoughts on this topic!

  20. My writer’s notebook is actually my iPhone. I use the note section for ideas and email longer writing pieces to myself to keep from accidentally deleting anything good (learned that the hard way). I also have a small notebook for ideas, but it’s not with me at all times. It’s harder to keep in my pocket! Like now, I do most of my writing with one thumb, while holding my often-clingy 2- year old daughter. I’ve just submitted an idea for an article to KidsVT, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed …when I’m not writing, that is!

    1. I *want* to like reading/writing on tablets and my phone, but I have come to the conclusion that I am more of a paper person. The one exception – my laptop for drafting books. Good luck with your article!

  21. When it comes to a writer’s notebook I have several places I like to jot my thoughts…which are usually random thoughts that catch me when I least expect it. I use the EVERNOTE app because I just about always have my iPhone or Kindle within my reach. There are those times, however, where I just like to list and brainstorm in a traditional black & white composition book that is covered in fuzzy felt! 🙂

      1. Evernote really is a useful app! I have it on my phone and each of my computers. I’m still learning all the ins and outs, but it syncs all of your work, so any updates are on all devices.

  22. My journals have covers that I have decorated with clipping and covered with contact paper. They reflect what was important to me when I decided to start a new journal. Each journal also has a dedication. When rereading the journals, it reminds me of who was an important voice at that time.

  23. I love hearing everyone talking about multiple notebooks. I’ve always felt like a failure in that regard because my notes are scattered everywhere. This post has saved me. Lol. I have one by my bed with random journals and dreams and whatever. But story ideas usually go into Evernote on my phone. That way I can write where ever I am and pick it back up on any device I have. Other random observations tend to go on my phone notepad for later. I love the journals with pretty covers, but always thought of them as sacred, so I look, but rarely buy. I’ve loved reading everyone’s thoughts here. It makes me realize I’m not alone and that I can keep my notes however I want, as long as I keep writing!

    1. Exactly! I feel like we should take on the mantra from Dory in “Finding Nemo.” Instead of “just keep swimming” it’s “just keep writing.”

  24. Jo’s one-sentence prompt is super, as is Kate’s post.
    One of my notebooks is dedicated to the
    VAN exercice. And I got this idea from YA author Adrian Fogelin, who has earned awards for her outstanding middle-grade & YA novels.
    V is for Verb
    A is for Adjective
    N is for Noun
    At random, pick one of each from a dictionary. I like to use an actual, giant dictionary my parents gave me when I started high school (American Heritage dictionary.) I open the pages & don’t look, pointing my finger down. Sometimes it takes a few “landings” to get a random V, A or N.. Then I run with them! Meaning, I write a paragraph story with all three words in it. Even if I have no progress on my other writing that day, it’s like my daily walk/jog. I’m guaranteed to have accomplished some writing.
    Love this Teacher’s Write! – my 1st year.

    1. Love the idea of the VAN exercise! I’m writing down the idea as we speak in my writer’s notebook to use with my writing students next school year. Thanks for sharing!

  25. I don’t have a story I am working on. I want to find myself as a writer. I am not sure what kind of writer I am other than an inconsistent one! Hopefully participating in Teachers Write I can become more consistent and figure myself out as a writer.

    1. If it makes you feel better, I think even most of us who write for a living started out as “inconsistent writers.” If you love to write, though, you keep coming back to it, even when time is hard to come by.

  26. I love my writer’s notebook. I have lots of different ones. A good notebook speaks to me. I know it when I hold it in my hands. I have a box of full ones, and a box of reserves because when I find the right notebook, I have to get it, even if my current one is not full. If I don’t buy it, it haunts me until I go back and purchase it! When I find one that I REALLY like, it inspires me to get going on using up my current one so that I can start the new one.

  27. I use my notebooks to collect my favorite quotes – from books, movies, things I read. I also keep a list of books I want to read. In addition, I write ideas, interesting names I hear, my thoughts about the day or certain events. I treasure my journal…I just need to be sure to write in it more!

  28. Like several others, I am struggling to figure out the balance between tech and a regular writers’ notebook. For years, I did keep some kind of writers’ notebook. It had to be about 6X9, it had to have lines, and it had to be spiral bound (it kind of looked like the ones in your picture). I have a big box of those that I have lugged from move to move, from the time I was in middle school. I like writing with a roller ball pen. In the past few years, though, I have sort of moved over to tech. I write faster and more on my laptop. But now I’m thinking about what I am missing. And whether I could manage both. I still do carry around a notebook to write books I want to read, random thoughts, notes from church sermons, etc.

    1. I do both, Carol – but I find that I’m more likely to write if I have that notebook in my purse. I’ve been known to scribble at the dentist’s office, in the school parking lot waiting to pick up kids… places I probably wouldn’t have brought my laptop, but if the notebook is there, I use it.

  29. Starting to read all kinds of fairy tales and/or mother goose rhymes. I want to write poems from different points of views connected to these older stories/tales. I first have drafted different poems about point of view. Fun to begin! Thanks for doing, Kate!

  30. Oh, I know this is SO important, and I’ve started and stopped a notebook so many times. I need to recommit! One of the things I wished I had kept a notebook of is all the funny/profound/clever things my students have said over the year. I’d have a book right there! But alas, I did not. Blogging helps me remember a lot of things I would have forgotten or wouldn’t have mused about, but you’re right – it’s not the same as a notebook. I found it the tech vs. paper discussion interesting, too. Thanks for helping us remember the very basics of being a writer. You have to WRITE!

    1. Why not keep your writer’s notebook as a blog? I already had a student who will be in my class next year ask if he could record his musings this way. (He sounds motivated, doesn’t he?)
      If you try it, I’d love to hear your results!

    2. Stealing lines from your students is a great reason to have your notebook at school. My book THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. was based on the leaf collection my 7th grade students had to do for science class!

  31. Thanks for sharing, everyone! I have done the best job of keeping a journal when I write daily with my students. Sadly, I have gotten away from those daily journals recently. This is a perfect opportunity for me to get myself back in the habit of being intentional about writing and doing it any time anywhere. I had fun looking at the journals on the site that Kate recommended and ordered one for myself and my two young daughters. I hope to get them in the habit too this summer!

    I also have technology with me more than paper and pen, so I’d love to keep reading about how some of you are using technology as your journaling tools. Really looking forward to learning and growing with this group this summer!

  32. I use my journal to record my fears, my successes, my ideas. I also record powerful words and quotes that keep me in line

  33. Hello. My name is Jenny…and I am a journal addict. It has been two days since I acquired my newest journal. In all honesty, it was a gift from a student, but still–my students know I have a weakness for pretty covers and bound pages. There’s nothing like opening a new journal to to the first page, working toward the middle, filling it to the end, and then drifting through it weeks or months later. My journals are a chaotic sketch of my thinking over time. I’m looking forward to reclaiming that chaos this summer with dedicated writing time.

  34. A student asked me the other day how many writer’s notebooks I have. I laughed – it’s got to be about 20.
    This was the first school year I required my students to use them, too. Wow. The results were amazing – just had a young lady ask if I could read her last entry (last notebook checks were last week – school ends tomorrow.) How could I resist?
    Like Kate I have a mish-mosh of notebooks. I keep at least 4 in my classroom, one in my schoolbag, one in my purse and another stash in my bedroom.
    There is no better surprise than “surfing” through them. New ideas, research questions, poetry in progress, it’s all there.

    1. It’s funny, isn’t it? I’ll find things in my notebook that I hardly remember thinking about, but that gets me thinking again…

  35. I love the possibilities a new writer’s notebook brings-just like the beginning of a summer break or of a school year. I seem to start a new one each summer to use with my students the following school year…but I don’t keep it up for one reason or the other. They love to look at my samples. I enjoy doodling, adding color, etc. to the pages as I think back to my childhood memories to tell the stories of my youth. I find these stories are well received from my new students as we create our classroom community. Looking forward to working on this year’s notebook!

  36. I used to keep notebooks in high school. I have several from that time with collected sappy teen angst-filled writings. When I started a notebook as an adult, it was because I saw my admin do it in order to write down notes. I started doing that. Now it has morphed into a haphazard collection of thoughts, ideas, notes, to-do lists, lists of books to buy or read….I suppose I should at some point better define its purpose, but, honestly, its haphazard muli-use organization kinda fits how my mind works :-0 Today, I am playing with a piece I started at All Write, inspired by a prompt from Penny Kittle… I am nineteen. He is four. I wear an apron. He wears Garanimals. The “bing” of the oven timer reminds me there are cookies to share. He sits with a friend and munches happily on pb&j sandwiches. Suddenly I am struck by the domestic scene. I am too young for this. There is a world out there and I want to see it. I serve warm cookies and milk while secretly plotting my escape.

    1. I’m not convinced that our notebooks need to have rules and sections – I kind of like mine lawless. It’s like brainstorming in the Old West.

  37. I have always been an avid reader and love to write, but I have never been disciplined about it. After being a reading specialist for many years, I am excited to be heading back to the classroom (Grade 2) and writer’s workshop! I have kept personal journals sporadically, and idea notebooks while helping teachers get writing workshop going in their classrooms, but never on an ongoing basis. Work on our old house, and setting up a classroom precluded taking a class this summer, but when I saw my friend Carol Owen was participating with you this summer, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to strengthen my writing muscles/habits before school starts.

  38. Well, I wrote a whole thing here, but for some reason it deleted it. 🙁 Attempt #2. I have always had writers notebooks in the past – spiral notebooks, marble composition books, my word processor, small hard cover journals, prayer notebooks, my cell phone (I tend to send myself texts to remember things). This week I will be buying myself a new notebook. Currently my boys have taken over all of my old ones to color in (future writers at work!). In the one notebook I have saved from them though, I have already written down quotes from the posts above. I especially liked the one about their being no other me with my experiences. That is perfectly worded and one that I will be sharing in the fall with my students for sure. Might even make a sign of it for my writing corner.

      1. Exactly – I’ve added plenty to my writer’s notebook already. And the funny thing is I was working on my blog and writing about why I write and why I’m writing the story that I started, and it helped me figure out which direction I wanted to go. I wasn’t even planning that! So, writing anything can lead anywhere. I love it!

  39. With my students, I have used writer’s notebooks for several years. However, I always end up frustrated with the fact that the kids don’t use the pages in order, so it’s hard to find entries pertaining to our current Lucy Calkins unit of study. I don’t want to stifle the flexibility but need to help them organize. Any suggestions?

    1. You could try making “sections” for each unit of study. Save a page at the beginning for a Table of Contents so that they have a quick reference. (This does require numbering the pages, but that can be done as the students progress through the notebook. You could even use sticky notes down the right to make tabs for each section and remind them where to look for their ideas and where to record next.

      1. I have found the little sticky flags make great tabs for students to divide composition books into sections.

    2. I’m not sure if you can do this, but I’d consider letting them have two notebooks – one that’s organized the way you want it – or the way Lucy wants it or whatever – and one that the student gets to run. Ownership is important with writing, and too many rules, I worry, will make kids feel less inclined to view the notebook as “theirs.”

  40. I am a school teacher that already brings home muliple binders (grade book, units, planner) and notebooks (journals) each day, so I use only one writer’s notebook. It is easy for me to keep track of and I try to buy a different color for each new one (although there are only so many colors). I keep the notebook with me at all times (always in my school bag). I find it easier to write in a notebook because it is sometimes difficult to use technology when I am at a soccer or lacrosse game (3 kids playing in 3 different places).

    I love the pictures of your notebooks with tic-tac-toe, Kate. My kids also have writing notebooks, and sometimes they accidently write in my notebook (I have found a picture of a dog and a diary entry in my notebook:). It is wonderful to be back at Teachers Write. Let the learning begin!

    1. Yeah…but that goes both ways. A couple summers ago, my daughter hollered down from her room, “Who wrote all this tornado stuff in my notebook?!”

  41. Well, up until today my writer’s “notebook” has been my computer – this is where I keep random thoughts and inspirations. But it’s not always with me, so it’s not the best. So, you’ve inspired me to get a real notebook and start writing in it at random times throughout the day. Who says I can’t do both paper and digital notebooking, right? The last “entry” in my “notebook” was an email I sent to myself – “Area of the world that’s in darkness, but the beings in this land are full of light.” As you can see, it’s pretty random, but it brings up all sorts of associations for me!

  42. Notes from talking to Freddy and Michael at our wedding: My great grandpop would call for Freddy when he was a child in a sing-song cadence not because he was singing, but because it was the best he could do with his broken English: “Freh-DEE…Freh-DEE…” The song was his concentration, and to hear Freddy remember it, it was gentle and caring and silver. It sounded lovely.

  43. I am a notebook addict, but I have a problem–I collect them, but I don’t like to mess up the pages. It’s like I am afraid to write with a pen that leaves globs, or my handwriting won’t look right that day. It’s stupid. Really stupid. I am inspired by your comments Kate. Why do I think my notebook must be perfect–it is not like my life is, which is definitely part of my control problem. I need to let go and get to writing. I really am going to try to stop being so particular, but first I have to go get a new notebook…and pens…and markers that symbolize my new freedom.

    1. Amy, I did this, too… still have a lot of “pretty” notebooks. I have come to think of my messes as equally “pretty,” because I am finally writing when that notebook isn’t blank inside. The writer’s efforts are what change it from “pretty” to “beautiful.” 🙂

  44. I’ve been keeping a writer’s notebook for about 10 years. most of my writing in that time has been songwriting, so my books are full of half-written songs, as well as lists of songs ideas, random choruses, and completed lyrics (with every stage in between recorded for posterity). I usually start a new one every January 1st, even if I haven’t finished the old one (I use those old-fashioned, black “marbled”-covered composition books).
    I tried (with limited success) to get my 8th graders started using writer’s notebooks last year. They have a hard time conceptualizing the freedom of the tool; They didn’t really believe me when I told them they could use it for ANYTHING.)

  45. Today I completed the Monday Morning Warm Up.

    Then I jotted down the mini-lesson notes. I like the idea that notebooks need to be perfect; I need to let that notion go!

    I then jotted down some ideas of how to use notebooks in class this fall.

    1. I think some of us are comfortable with more imperfection than others. (If you’ve ever seen my house, you know that I’m comfortable with a lot!) But any time the idea of perfection is keeping you from writing something less than perfect, it may be time to rethink.

    2. That’s why I use the cheap composition books. When I’ve tried using the nice notebooks,I get intimidated, like I can’t waste one of those nice pages on just any old writing. With the comp books, I can just scribble away. I buy them in bulk when Staples has a sale (sometimes as cheap as .50 cents or $1 each).

  46. As a literacy coach, I have learned to write with each and every group of students. Time-consuming? Sometimes. Worth it? Yes, yes, yes (that’s supposed to be a “resounding yes.”) It allows me to provide an insider’s point of view from the writing (vs. assigning and assessing–which results in missing the teaching). As a result, I have numerous notebooks created over time with various grade levels, classes, and for differing purposes. The coolest thing is that I can see spiraled work–in other words, there is evidence of how notebooks are launched and sustained kindergarten through fifth grades… how they feed into real writing pieces, and how they become a record of our thinking and existence.

    I also keep my own notebooks and do tend to use different notebooks for different purposes–I am a separatist of notebooks, evidently. I have some that are work-related with ideas, needs, etc. Some are notes from workshops, some are personal with stories, ideas, musings. I have my literacy coaching blog that I work on diligently at times… and I have started a blog to share with a family member to respond to Natalie Goldberg’s OLD FRIEND FROM FAR AWAY. Ten years ago, I jotted in scrapbooks for my kids. Now I see myself more as a writer. I KNOW, without a doubt, that this has made me a better teacher of writing.

  47. I write sentences that I find that I like, quotes, doodles, bits of writing that come to me, and ideas for entries. When traveling, I try to capture impressions of the places I see-the sights, smells, sounds, etc. recording the crazy things my kids say and do is important too.

  48. What a good discussion. I have three places I keep notes. One on my phone or ipad in evernote and two notebooks – a very small one for the quick ideas and then another one for brainstorming and writing out my ideas. I have found my students liked to use their notebooks for writing and drawing so this year they also had two notebooks. One more “serious” writing notebook which held rough drafts and a quick draw and write notebook with no lines. They loved the quick write and draw. We started each day with either one. I would post a starter idea on the board for them to work on as they came in each morning.

    1. I love the multiple notebook idea for kids – could be a great solution to the earlier poster who was wondering about how to enforce organization for her required units.

  49. I started keeping a journal later in life when I began my master’s in writing in 1993. I wanted it to be perfect and always had the sense that I wasn’t using it correctly. I fell off using a journal in recent years and this is my opportunity to start up again, knowing that I was doing it right all along. You’ve given me permission dive in head first and get going again. It’s all about practice, and right now I am woefully out of practice. Here’s to Teachers Write!

    1. What’s that saying…? “Perfect is the enemy of good.” (It’s also the enemy of actually getting some writing done sometimes!)

  50. I have multiple journals in my classroom and a couple that are held hostage in my home. I also love using the Evernote app because it syncs to my computer at home. With that app you can take notes, record your voice, and add pictures. You can later copy and paste into your blog or print it into your journal. I love writing in my journals too, but sometimes when I’m somewhere without it, I rely mostly on technology.

  51. My little fat notebooks writing inspiration got started at Wild Acres writers’ retreat/workshop near Ashville, NC. Just love them and Teachers Write has started me writing again!

  52. I have tried multiple writer’s notebooks, to use with different topics, but I’m not that organized. Also, I love the feel of a pen, so I have to use an actual notebook, and not something on the iPad or computer. The writing territories, within my notebook, typically relate to my children, book reflections, my husband and ideas on how I can improve as a teacher.

    1. I like that phrase – “writing territories.” And I love the idea that we can have multiple territories – not just one direction.

  53. Today’s assignment sent me scrambling into the guest bedroom, where a haphazard collection of writing journals sits neglected on a bookshelf. There are at least five of these suckers, now slightly dusty, given to me as gifts over the years by well-meaning friends and family who think I should write more. Hey, watch what happens when I switch some nouns: There are at least five of these friends, now slightly dusty, given to me as gifts over the years by well-meaning suckers who think I should write more. (Ha!) I’m looking forward to making a new friend with the notebook I selected – mostly for its portable size, which hopefully means I can keep it close at hand (especially when school re-starts and Teachers Write ends), but also for the comfort of its soft, sueded cover. Guess I’m a sucker of sorts, too.

  54. Ack! I should have copied and pasted instead of trying to type in the tiny box from my iPad. Please edit or delete my comment because it doesn’t make sense.

    1. Deleted it, Pat – no worries at all! This is quick-draft writing, and people will make mistakes, typos, etc. Feel free to re-post if you’d like!

  55. This post reminded me that I do indeed have notebooks stashed all over. I just need to start using them again. (I’ve become iPad dependent.) I also have journals dating back to my childhood. It would be fun to go back and re-read them this summer and would also be a great way to get a good teenager voice for a character development.

    1. I’ve heard from quite a few people who write on iPads, phones, etc now – and I didn’t mean to suggest that somehow doesn’t “count.” But no matter your preference, I still think a paper notebook can go places that your iPad won’t and will encourage you to write even more. My two cents…

  56. I was so glad to hear that so many others have multiple notebooks. My biggest problem seems to be using them. I love blank paper because of the potential it holds. I also have discovered that writing letters helps me to tell my story or record my thoughts. While my three children were growing, I wrote them letters on paper, on notebooks, in bound journals so that when they were older they would have a piece of their childhood captured. It always frustrates me that I can’t remember some of the things that my sister can. I also wanted them to have that family history and sense of tradition. I made sure to write to each of them during their birthday month and then at least sometime around their half birthdays. The letters are quite long because I did my best to capture their personalities, their joys, their friends and their struggles. I also tried to fill them with things I valued so that when they grew up and had children they would appreciate why I did things the way I did. Now that I have just finished treatment for breast cancer I am writing letters again to tell that story. I struggled with doing this in a bound journal, but ended up doing it in a blog. These letters are all short snippets of conversations I had in my head with everyone from myself, the tumor, the docs and the hard of hearing receptionist in the surgery center. I am hoping to work on this project for the rest of the summer as part of my every day writing but it is draining to relive this story. Just from reading everyone else’s comments I already have some new ideas for school…a shared journal, a dictaphone for interviews and lots and lots of notebooks going on!

    1. Patti – You are a thoughtful and courageous writer. I love the idea of writing letters to your children and wondered if they know about the letters and/or have read them yet. I’m thinking now about doing something similar for my students, not just at the end of the year, but throughout. Thanks for the inspiration.

      1. My kids know about the letters. I have shared a couple of them with them when they’ve asked about specific times and I couldn’t remember some of the details! My plan is to get them all in one spot and give them to them when they have their own children or sooner if they ask for them!

  57. I have several writers notebooks. All are blank with the exception of one….it has two quotes in it. Realizing that just writing…writing anything is a necessity, I need to start filling some pages. I relate to several of you that have the same “don’t mess up a pretty notebook or blank page” phobia 🙂 I am heading out to buy ugly notebooks to remedy that :). And I like the idea given on using my phone…haven’t thought of that! Here’s to writing in ugly notebooks!

  58. I don’t have a writer’s notebook as I’m one of those people who tends to lose things all over the place. I did attempt one of these, but would find them buried under various things. For myself, just wall papering my computer with post-it notes does it for me. My computer does not go too far away from me, so those physical reminders of writing are close by. If I’m feeling techie, I use Evernote to record different ideas, and I’ll use my iPod to record voice files that have different moments of enlightenment on them. They may be a phrase or single word. The voice files tend to be a story I’ve seen, or a memory I want to remember for later. The iPod is also great to take a quick picture of something that’s struck a chord that can be used later.

  59. I love the texture of journals. I like the creativity of handmade journals, the smell of a leather journal, and I especially like the ones that you wrap the leather string around several times to secure it. However, my students are experiencing a 1 to 1 iPad program. We use Google Docs, Evernote, etc. We do use paper/pencil but not as much for writing longer drafts. I am in that transition of one foot still using what I love and one foot trying to use what my students are using. When I want to write down something quickly, I often have my phone. I should use Evernote since it syncs to all devices but I seem to go to my Notes app. Yesterday I wrote down something my daughter said, “She might be mean, but she’s not stupid.”

  60. One of my favorite writer’s notebooks is the ones that I keep with my students. It has at least a double use. One to check in every morning and to write back and forth, and the second for when we do writing, the students can use it to read through(which they love!) and it supports the writing idea, “Write what you know.”

  61. Since I was a kid iI have love to write. A little about everything: poetry,thoughts,ideas. Its been a while I don’t write, but I am excited on starting again.I think that the essential key to writing is just following your thoughts.Let yourself be driven by your pen!! Iam just loving the idea of sharing our thoughts and feelings thru the writing!!

  62. I have kept a writer’s notebook since high school, unaware that that was what it was. All of my early notebooks were collections of quotes from other people that I found personally meaningful. Then I stopped for a long time. When I was in my 30’s I started again as a means of personal reflection and growth during a time I was struggling personally. Recently, I have written passages from books I read that inspired me or that I simply liked and continues my personal reflections. I have also kept a gratitude journal on and off. There is no rhyme or reason to my books and I now would like to bring a bit more “order” to them – writing down my ideas for WRITING. Does that make sense. I am starting this TW journey with a healthy dose of “fear” – but vow to really give it a go anyway. Thanks for the opportunity.

  63. Great first topic! It is so refreshing to hear so many people struggling with the same issues I do. The multiple notebooks, the organization, the way we use journals as a means to an end, or just an end are all issues that have surfaced as I write in journals. I’m thrilled to participate in a community of writers. Today my writers notebook has notes from a funny experience I had in NYC last week. I am going to use it to compose a short story and post it on my writing blog.

  64. I am at my lifetime favorite beach. After my solitary walk I recorded the sensory details that I gathered along the way. A helpful exercise – describing a familiar place – writing in detail about what is so familiar.
    I am like Amy, infatuated and intimidated by pristine notebooks – I dabble in journaling but don’t want my writing to sully a beautiful notebook. I remember hearing Jack Gantos talking about his journals – he would stick all sorts of objects in (a donut once?) along with thoughts and ideas. I plan to take a page out of the book of Jack and abandon form for the sake of creative expression.

    1. Not long ago, I shared a car with Jack on the way to a conference where we were both speaking. It is not difficult to imagine him shoving a donut in a journal.

  65. I have never kept a true writer’s notebook, though I have taught my students to keep them for years. My grandmother passed this year and unknown to me she had hundreds of tiny notebooks where she recorded her days. These stretch back for some 65 years and are priceless. I want to start my notebook to catch my thoughts and storied before they drift away and I also want to leave them for my own family someday. I even hope to use my grandma’s notebooks to find some stories from her life that were never told.

  66. From this morning’s entry in one dogeared journal with entries stretching back to 2006: Friday, my girlfriends and I went garage saling. I was on the prowl for kid\’s lit books. Instead, I found a bowling ball (light), a leather tote (dark) and a pair of immaculate white bowling shoes in my size…for TEN DOLLARS! \”Thank you, Universe,\” I said, \”You\’re looking out for me!\”

    But my husband hates bowling. And my intellectual friends don\’t bowl. So I have a sneaky plan to disappear a couple of hours a week and stealth bowl to get my skills on. I might even look for a coach.

    Thanks for letting me share!

  67. I find this all very interesting and fascinating but writing is very difficult for me. It has taken an hour just to decide what/if to write a comment here. I teach first grade and never had a problem encouraging my students to write or helping them with ideas and teaching them editing skills so their stories flow well but when it\’s time for me to write nothing happens. It is one of the hardest things for me to do and I really don\’t enjoy it. I\’ve never told my students this or my own children. I\’ve always been a visual person and have expressed myself with photography and art. Teaching first grade and knowing how much learning to write and enjoying it at a young age is so important, with this in mind I think it would be a benefit to my future students to give this a try.

    Here\’s to Teachers Write and for me stepping so far outside of my box I feel nauseous 🙂

    1. Oh dear… this writing camp should come with soda crackers and a cold compress, I’m afraid. But know this – you’re not alone in writing scared. We all do that sometimes – even those of us who write for a living. I am starting a new book soon. Thinking about it fills me with equal parts excitement and terror. Writing is like that – and in doing it anyway, you’re showing the kind of courage that you’re asking your first graders to show and being a true mentor to them. So bravo! We’re glad you’re here.

  68. I have several writers notebooks going at once. One is a date book where I put daily quotes and sayings, another is an old scrapbook that I rebound and use occasionally. It’s too big to carry around. The most recent is a composition book with a honeycomb cover given to me by my prinicpal. This is where I am going to write my 9th summer in MaIne– A record of my thoughts so I can discover what my story is.

  69. Kate! Thank you for sharing your notebook stacks. I feel much better about my own. I recently found one with a list of my favorite words in the back. I think my writing prompt today will be to write something using those words. I will do that right after I jot down some of the great writing ideas shared here.

  70. Today I wrote: “Writing matters because it allows me to connect with myself in a way that reminds me I am enough, even if I am my only friend, and to connect, through words, with others who feel the same, sharing the realization that we writers are never truly friendless or alone.”

  71. I love Kate Messner’s two pieces of advice. #1-Read. I have that one down. The past three years I have been keeping a reading journal do that I can make recommendations. I can never remember what I read. So I am good to go for that. #2-write. Now this one I am not very good at. I am not a confident writer. I think writing is important for me so that I am doing what I ask my students to do. My goal this summer is to become a more confident writer. So today I will start my writer’s notebook- after I mow the lawn!

  72. I always have a ton of notebooks floating around with writing ideas in them. My trouble is making the leap to actually writing content. That’s one of my goals for teacherswrite this summer.

  73. What a great first mini lesson! I have kept a writer’s note book off and on through the years. I wrote consistently through college and my mid twenties, then I stopped using my notebooks. I am so looking forward to getting back into the habit of daily writing, and recording of life’s events and my thoughts. I also hope to inspire my fourth grade writer’s to do keep a writer’s notebook as well.

  74. A student gave me the loveliest small notebook. We had been talking about \’tiny topic notebooks\’ in class, so I was thrilled when she remembered and got me one. Right now I keep it in my purse so that I am reminded to write whenever I have a few extra minutes, like before yoga class.

  75. Writing is important to me because it clarifies my thinking. Through writing I become more reflective and can see what is really important. It is only by actually doing the work of writing myself that I find my voice and can share that journey with my students.

    1. Your post just reminded me of this quote from Cecil Day Lewis… “We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.”

  76. You know, for some reason I have gotten away from the writer’s notebook–I don’t know why, but today I start one! Thanks for the reminder!!!!!

  77. I use notebooks that are similar to cornell notes. I have one for each project. I section them so that I have my planning ideas up front, a section for characters/description (with or without pics), a section for research, a section for maps, a section for pictures. This section is especially helpful when writing historical fiction. It is a visual reference to keep me grounded and accurate. If it is any other genre then it helps having inspirational pictures, especially for settings. I have other notebooks I carry for taking down snatches of dialogue, signs I see or notes about things I see. I have 5 or 6 going at a time. So what is my current one? It is the picture book my seven year old and I are writing. She is learning as we go along. What did we put in it today? We put in what she had previously written about her characters. I am teaching her how to interview her characters, something I learned from the book “Spilling Ink” by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. I am teaching her to have her own writer’s notebooks.

  78. I have a secret cabinet in my bedroom for all my writing notebooks. I really like what you said about writing notebooks not being sacred…I never seem to know which notebook will hold the magic of any given novel project I’m working on, but I know for sure that it will also contain grocery lists and hangman games and love notes from my sons and lots of pages of me saying ughhhhh this is sooooooo stupid there’s no way I can ever write this book!

    1. But that stuff…that other stuff…is LIFE – and sometimes I think it’s when we let our creative life mix with our real, regular life that real inspiration happens.

  79. Yay! It’s time for Teachers Write! I am so happy that I got at least one other teacher to join this summer. I loved lurking last summer and am determined to do more than lurk this summer. I was talking to somebody today who was surprised I had no aspirations to be a writer. I do want to be a consistent blogger and a model for my students, so I have to get on the ball.
    As for a writer’s notebook- I am ahead- I have picked one out (last week or the week before when I was drowning in end of year stuff it gave me a job to do). Now I have to strat using one! I started one last summer, but was not consistent, this summer I am going to try to write daily. School ended Friday, but today I was back to clean up my room. I was gifted with a summer cold that is knocking me down, but bit by bit I will get in the groove. Something I want to do is record the books I read this summer and ideas I have for how to use them in the classroom.
    Yay for summer, yay for writing, and yay for reading everyone’s wise words!

  80. . Many years ago when I was in school – grade school – through high school, I was a poor reader and writer. The negative comments have caused years of uncertainty as a writer. I feel so intimidated to write down my thoughts. As an individual with multiple master’s degrees and a reading specialist – I still don’t feel comfortable as a writer. I have tried on several occasions to write in a journal. I have the hardest time. Although shortly after my mom died I bought 2. One to talk to her and one to just talk. I just read through what I had written. I read hopes and dreams and frustrations and good times. I will try again and perhaps with a community of support, I will be more comfortable with my thoughts.

    1. I hope so, Debbie. I love that you used a journal to talk to your mom after she died – I bet that was tough but healing in many ways. We’re glad you’re with us this summer!

  81. I have a bunch of notebooks scattered around the house with random pieces of writing in them. I try to keep a tiny one in my purse, just in case inspiration strikes. I WISH there was a waterproof one. I’m always thinking up things in the shower, and there’s no paper in there!

  82. I have not had much experience keeping a journal for writing, as generally I am much more a reader than a writer. I joined this group to encourage myself to try writing more, as I so admire all the writers who create the wonderful adventures I escape in regularly.

    My most successful experience with keeping a journal was when I was pregnant the last time. I started it because I love being pregnant and wanted a means to remember some of those quirky, roller-coaster feelings. Recently, I came across that journal while looking for something else, and read through it. I realized that by reading the journal, my memories are much more vivid and detailed than when thinking back without the benefit of my notes….definitely a good reason to invest in a new journal.

    Thanks Kate and Company for inspiring us to branch out of our comfort zone!

  83. I have used writing over the years as a way to help myself slow down and reflect on my daily experiences. I would like to model a “writing life” to my students just as I model my “reading life”. I would like to push myself to move from comfortable lists, short entries, and vignettes to a complete a story.

  84. Thanks everyone for your beautiful writing about your journals and also about how you perceive yourselves as writers, especially those who feel vulnerable about being a writer. I know it took me a long time to even admit to myself that I wanted to be a writer, much less to actually start writing. I use a notebook when I research – for my historical novel, Prairie Journey, I traveled the California Trail and I used several of the basic small notebooks with lines. I mostly wrote about nature along the trail- especially the sensual nature of the trail- what it smelled like, how it looked and made me feel, and what sounds I heard along the trail. Then I went back and read those notebooks over and over again as I was actually writing the story. They really helped me so much! Thanks Kate for the mini-lesson and also for all of the great tech ideas from everybody.

    1. It’s funny – talking about your writing is also a brave act, isn’t it? I worked on my first book for years before I told anyone I was writing it.

  85. One sentence:
    Writing gives me permission to become intimate with a past that has been buried under the constant demands of the present.

    I’m starting a new writer’s notebook (my original one’s are electronic) specifically for this camp.

  86. I am excited to share thoughts about my everyday life during summer, my thoughts, feelings, and prayers. I also would like to encourage my two older children to begin their own writer’s notebooks.

  87. My writer’s notebook is one I carry in my back pocket. It is mostly filled with one-liners that various characters would say. Often, these one liners lead to entire chapters at home. Love it!!

  88. I am a note taker. I don\’t trust my memory for anything other than prices or maps. I jot down notes, ideas, raging brainstorms and I always have to use graphics or I will totally forget why I have written something. One of the greatest joys of keeping a Writer\’s Notebook (I call them my sanity books) is that they are so enjoyable to flip back through and surprise yourself. Wow! That was a great idea, why didn\’t I follow through with that? Or I must have definitely been ingesting too much Dr. Pepper when I wrote that entry. I can barely read my own handwriting. My mother once showed me a diary her grandmother kept. What a gift to be able to glimpse into the past and get to know someone who is connected to me through time. I feel it is important to physically write down our thoughts and ideas. Computers crash and digital information can easily be wiped out or lost. Write for yourself but remember, one day your great, great grandchild will need a My Family Tree project someday and you can be providing them with a cherished family treasure.

  89. I used to journal a long time ago and stopped. I have a notebook I keep in my classroom for modeling. I’m looking forward to starting my own t brainstorm and get some ideas down on paper. So excited I have an inspiration and motivation to write this summer!

  90. How liberating to hear everyone’s thoughts. I’ve kept different journals through the years, usually abandoned because they got used for other things and weren’t kept pristine or devoted to one thing. Random thoughts that should have gone in the notebook went on scrap papers. To heck with that! Some of today’s scribblings:
    -You are NOT my mother
    -is a confrontation realistic? is it true to her character?
    -what would be the trigger, enough to push her over the edge?
    -is it the idea that she needs permission, or one is is just the final straw?

  91. I use my notebook for several things. I jot down memorable quotes from books I read, things my grandchildren do or say as well as my students, reactions to life’s events, notes from conferences,and many more. I am not as consistent as I want to be. My goal is to write something everyday in my journal.

  92. I’ve tried for years to use a notebook, but I haven’t been able to keep up with one, no matter what the project is–personal journalling, poetry pieces, random catch-all.. I wanted to try a Don Murray style daybook, but I didn’t know how to begin! I have a stack of empty or barely used notebooks, and I’ll definitely pull one out today.. but I’m still not sure what to write in it. Should I stick with one project or let my mind–and writing–wander?

    1. There’s really no “should.” You can do either of those things…or both…or something else entirely. Just start by writing something – Jo’s prompts on Mondays are great starters, too.

  93. In my writer’s notebook I like to write recipes that I’ve tried and my family approves of, I list books I’ve read and ones I want to read, and I have drafts I’ve written in class for my students during mini-lessons. Last year I bought little notebooks that I can slide into my purse with the purpose of always having them with me, but I have yet to put one in my purse. Today I start.

  94. It is so refreshing to read about how others struggle with choosing a notebook. This is topic near and dear to my heart. I am looking for an online app that might work because I almost always have my phone with me, but I will never quit using paper — I love the feel of my Ticonderoga #2 as I write on paper!! I think the bottom line is a phrase I\’m borrowing from Ruth Ayres — BIC (butt i chair) and use whatever tool feels right at that moment!

  95. Just packed my stack of notebooks in our fire “go” box (living in the forest in Colorado is always tentative in the summers and I couldn’t replace all the entries that live there). But I am keeping one handy for anything and everything that comes my way. My latest entry in my notebook under the influence of Chris Raschka’s Yo! Yes?: I do. You do? Yes, I do.
    Other entries capture my world: Climbing trees. Hiking where there are no trails. Burying our toes in the rain-dampened dirt. Sword-fighting with the miners’ candlesticks. This. This is how we spent our day. Why we came in from outside, thirsty with sun-kissed cheeks. Why our eyelids are heavy and our bodies lounge effortlessly on the porch swing. The swing that has been waiting for us for more than a season.

    Great YouTube video from Ruth Ayres and Try-It for writers’ notebooks also on my blog: http://tryitmentor.blogspot.com/2012/08/keep-your-friends-close-and-your.html

  96. I have tried to keep journals and writer’s notebooks in the past. I have always started off strong BUT then slowly let it become less and less a part of my routine. About 4 months ago I had an idea for a story and wrote for weeks on end, taking notes on how I wanted the story to play out – it was awesome and inspiring. However, I have not even cracked that notebook open in about a month or two (mostly due to teaching schedule). Do you have any pointers on how to keep up the enthusiasm/routine of a writer’s notebook?

    1. Writing at the same time each day helps. So does having the notebook with you wherever you go – if it’s in your purse and there’s a line at the grocery store, pull it out. It becomes a habit in time.

  97. “The crystal blue eyes stared up at me from the two-dimensional photo and pleaded to be set free…”

    This line begins my new writer’s journal – the one in which my mother so endearingly scribed “Love you Rosebud!” on the first page – and begins my first piece of personal writing since graduating in March of last year. My efforts to write in the time that has elapsed after this monumental event have been futile, becoming collections of to-do lists or random notations during staff meetings and collaborations sessions but all lacking the fundamental personal expression I had initially intended. With the outset of this writing endeavor, I hope to remain true to my intentions and aspirations to keep this writer’s journal as a personal space for growth.

    1. Glad you’re with us, Amber! And remember that those reflections can live side by side with the grocery list if that’s what works!

  98. Just picked up my latest writer’s notebook over the weekend. Ecojet on clearance at B&N! I have several notebooks and am happy to see that is the norm! I was having abandonment issues! Off to write!

  99. I lost the urge to write somewhere at the start of high school. Before then, I was a writer. I loved it! Loved the feeling of creating a character, his or her world, pithy dialogue. Unfortunately, high school arrived and then I was involved in other activities and while it was an important part of becoming who I am 20 years later, that urge didn’t reappear until recently. We get caught up in fear and much like my students, I can be afraid to write. Recognizing this has changed the way I approach teaching writing. Giving students, and myself, permission to be courageous, make mistakes and to inspired by… whatever… had helped make me a better teacher, one who writes again. Not because I have to, but because I have something to share.

    What inspires me? Apparently, everything. And that’s what I tell my “kids”. They started teasing me about how often something triggers the development of a writing prompt. “Oh! That would make a great writing prompt!” Try it, I say. Something happen in the lunchroom? Write about it. Think zombies would make that story more interesting? Go for it.

  100. I just started my fiction writer’s notebook today, using a fancy magenta pen to scrawl on its gridded compbook pages.

    I do so much (so very much) writing on the computer – all nonfiction – that I feel the need to keep the fiction bits offline for a while. Got a whole scene written this morning before firing up the computer… Three cheers for Teachers Write and here’s to developing good writing habits that will stick with us.

  101. I wrote a whole scene in my new gridpaper composition book this morning before firing up the computer for all the rest of the writing that I do daily.

    I think that separating my just-begun fiction from all the non-fiction that I write daily on the computer will help my brain change gears between the two.

    And besides – I’ll get to use this gorgeous magenta rollerball pen for my fiction!

    Here’s to a great Teachers Write summer!

  102. To all of you who keep MULTIPLE writers notebooks: hmmph! I\’m trying really hard not to feel completely inadequate! 🙂
    I\’ve inconsistently used notebooks/journals throughout my adult life, usually staring strong with great intentions, then getting sidetracked by the busy-ness of daily life. But I think keeping a writers notebook forces you OUT of the mundane, so I\’m re-dedicating myself to keeping one.
    For my students, I like to let them personalize their writing journals on the first day or two of school. They cut out magazine pictures, paste them onto a composition book, and then a parent volunteer covers the books with contact paper. Bonus: what kids choose to decorate their journals with gives me immediate insight into their likes/dislikes, etc.
    Thanks, Kate!

    1. Hi Diana,
      I have the same writing problem as you! I think a lot of people do though so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much! =) I love your idea of having your students decorate their notebooks the first day or two and then the contact paper is GENIUS! I will definitely be “borrowing” that idea this year! Good luck with your “rededication”. =)

  103. I found a cute plasicy-covered notebook for my writer’s notebook. Strangely enough, I had already used one page of it during your speech to us Mainers at Reading Roundup this spring. I wrote down a link to your slideshare. Today I added ideas for my summer project, a book about my son (who has autism) for his 2nd grade class.

  104. This is my first time participating in Teachers Write, and I am so excited about it! I have always had notebooks, but I’ve never really thought of them as Writer’s Notebooks… I have idea books with magazine clippings of family activities, recipes, book lists, and my own reflections and ideas. I have also had a few different journals over the years. Most have been primarily to-do lists, end-of-the-day reflections, goals and dream lists for the future. Most recently, I have started a journal which tells the story of my husband and me, to be read by my children when they are older. He died almost 4 years ago. One thing I haven’t done with my notebooks is experiment with fiction. I am excited to try this!

  105. A writer’s notebook holds a special place in my heart because my Dad, who died when I was a little girl, kept them. Because I was so young, I did not have many of my own memories of him (mostly from stories and pictures) but when I was old enough to finally explore his writing, his notebooks were like gold to me. I loved seeing his handwriting and reading his thoughts. He wrote with felt angle-tipped markers–usually a purple one–and seemed to keep the aforementioned rules of just writing in it. He would sometimes tell stories, write about his illness, log his medications, or just write one, big statement on a page.

    I became obsessed with writer’s notebooks when I lived in Rome for a year-and-a-half. I was studying to get my writing degree and was taking a few writing courses. For one, we were required to have a “quick-write” book for 5-minute responses at the beginning of each class. The bookstore on the corner by our school had the best little notebooks. They had neat designs and cool covers. There was also a cartoleria (stationery store) down the street that carried small, thin notebooks. I bought several of these (my favorite being one with a simple picture of a carefree Marilyn Monroe on the front) and wrote while sitting near monuments, by the river, or in my room. I would jot down ideas I had, trains of thought, stream of consciousness observations of what was going on around me. Rome was definitely a great place to people-watch! I’m excited to dig these out today and to start a new one for this summer. Thank you for running this program! I am so excited to continue 🙂

    1. I love that your writing notebook connects you with your dad, Stephanie. And I may pick your brain later on this summer…I’m going to Rome in August!

  106. I love to put “noticings” in my notebooks like Kate had in hers. I also love to put down words or phrases that sometimes pop into my mind and I think…” That would make a great part of a story!” In my notebook today I wrote: The story I am going to work on this summer is important to me because writing connects us to one another and I know that elements of this story would help others with similar experiences to know they are not alone and that all of our experiences shape who we are and are a necessary part of our life.

  107. I have a couple journals. I ave one for school where I write whatever I ask my kids to write. I think they need to see that I am willing to do what I ask them to do. My second journal is how I end my days. I usually try to end my day with things that happened during the day that I want to remember or that really touched me. I used to do this more in the past, but then I had kids and began getting away from the practice. Now my kids are all teenagers and I want to get back to my journaling. I really miss it.

    1. I love the idea of ending the day by writing – that’s a great way to get into the habit at a particular time, which can help.

  108. I also keep several notebooks, including a digital one. One I maintain is called “The thirty page” notebook: I don’t re-read it until I have a thirty page chunk. Then, I Rereading and highlight words, phrases, sections. I’ve done this for almost thirty years. I have another one I use for smaller jots…keep in my purse.

  109. Started my writers notebook about a week ago. Now I have three notebooks. Two small pocket size notebooks for ideas, small lists and spur of the moment. One large notebook for a variety of writing. Trying to figure out if there needs to be any organization to the notebook or not.

  110. I’m such a perfectionist… I have a tough time writing in those pretty blank books. I have to use a cheap notebook that it’s “OK” to mess up in. (And honestly, those “messes” often serve as the richest raw material…

    1. Read the other comments, Julie – you’re not alone in not wanting to mess up the pretty pages. Maybe we need a special support group for our perfectionists!

  111. I have an assortment of notebooks and sketch books plus a file on my laptop. Lately, I tend to write more on my laptop because it’s easier to find!

  112. I use a digital notebook — an iPhone/iPad app called \”Plan & Note\” that allows me to create different folders to keep specific story ideas and research projects separate and easy to locate. The app allows me to set task reminders, too. It works for me!

  113. Ahhhh…. the Writer’s Notebook. THAT’S what it’s called! I have one notebook taht I’ve called a “journal” for about 6 years now but my biggest struggle is convincing myself to sit down and actually WRITE in it. I also have a journal for each of my kids to write down funny things they’ve done or said and milestones – same problem there. =) I’m trying to get into the habit of just writing! I tell my students all the time that “good writers get it on the paper first, then they go back to fix things”. I guess I need to take my own advice! Currently in my “writer’s notebook”: things I want to remember for our next camping trip, why it’s time to stop being naked in front of my 4-yr. old son, and the adventures of potty training my 2 yr. old daughter!

  114. Today I wrote about my goals for this summer writing adventure! In addition to becoming a better writer, one big goal is to keep a notebook so I can share it with my 4th graders this year. I want to try a lot of genres so I can show them how I tried it out. I will continue my notebook with them as well!

  115. I am a sucker for all kinds of stationary – and notebooks seem to top the list. I buy them faster than I can fill them – not unlike my shameless love for acquiring books faster than I can read them. I hope to get caught up on both fronts this summer.

    Today I was writing in my notebook describing what it was like to be in a room with some young writers as they quietly wrote. The intensity reminded me of writing with a huge room full of people at the NWP Annual Meeting last year. I’m giddy that today is only the first day of our Young Writers Academy – I get four more days to be inspired by their energy! (Hopefully I can send a bit of inspiration their way in return!)

    1. And I’m thinking that it’s great you’re not only leading the young writers but working on your own writing, too! That’s real mentorship… 🙂 So glad you’re with us!

  116. First year doing this and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s great ideas! I have never kept a writers notebook but feel this is something I need to start. Everyone has been such an inspiration to me and it is only day 1!

  117. On and off for years I have a kept a journal, mostly used as a gratitude journal or for reflection. I want to start noticing my surroundings more from visual, auditory, scents, and feelings. Today I wrote about the humidity…sweat dripping, heavy breathing…I hope my writer’s notebook will help me my Teacher’s Write journey.

  118. Wow! I’ve *tried* over the years to keep a journal, but never quite kept up with it. One of my goals is to succeed this summer!

  119. Wow. Soooo excited for this journey. I have never seen myself as a writer so I don’t have a writer’s notebook. BUT I found one today, in teh closet. I’m writing in it about my goals for this PD, goals for my personal health, and reflecting on the summer with my 2 girls.

  120. I am always jealous of people with great handwriting and creative doodles in their writer’s notebook. I try to write with my students every time they write, but it usually is three or four times a week because I like to walk around and see what the kids are doing. When I share with my students, it becomes hard because my brain works faster than my hand, and I have to stop while reading my writing and say, “What in the heck did I write?” It often interrupts the flow of the piece, but it also shows the kids that teachers are fallible, too. Even my seventh graders find my half written stories interesting and often ask me what happened to the other story I was writing. I always give them a reason why I stopped writing something. My favorite last school year was that I didn’t like my character because she was too much like me in high school. They thought that was hilarious.

    1. A writer’s notebook is a perfect place to try out stories to see if they *want* to be finished, I think. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  121. I don’t even know where to begin! I’ve enjoyed reading what everyone else has had to say and could identify with so many of you! I, too, have an avalanche of beautiful empty journals, ripe with possibilities. And a collection of favorite fountain pens with different inks to choose from. More and more, I’m typing on my computer or adding notes to a phone app, and I miss the scratching of pen on paper. I’m looking forward to getting back to that. I like to buy the occasional artsy postcard or pick up a particularly colorful, fun advertising card so that I can jot notes or quotes or whatever on the backs. Then I tuck it into my journal and the edges stick out and make the book fat and satisfied, and there is a tactile quality to rereading what I have.

    1. I love the way your post captures the *feeling* of a writing notebook, Jen – I think some writers really thrive when that tactile element is there.

  122. It’s funny that this was the assignment for today, as my major project since school ended has been transcribing all those notes and scenes from my notebooks (and – librarians don’t hate me – from in the margins of books I was reading) during the school year, to implement revisions on my novel in progress. It’s messy work (I blogged about it today: http://goo.gl/l520G), but I can’t imagine all the detail I would have lost without having notebooks on hand when a thought struck. A picture of my scattered notebooks is in the blog post. I am not sacred about them either – although I prefer something sturdy and compact that won’t be mangled living in my purse.

  123. I kept journals years and years ago, but tossed them out lest something happen to me and my kids find out what shenanigans I’d been up to at their age. My daughter bought me some Moleskin journals and fancy pens for Mother’s Day, and I’ve started again. I’m finding it hard to keep up with, though.

    1. Ha! Now that’s an original reason for tossing the old notebooks – though I wonder if it might have led to some great conversations. Happy writing now that you’ve started again!

  124. I have been told several times to start a writer’s notebook, so today is just another hint! I pulled out an old notebook I started around 2008 and browsed through some of my original ideas. I hope to now include thoughts about future ideas, different exercises I could try with my students, and anything else that comes to mind! Hopefully at some point I can join the crowd of having multiple journals!

  125. I am so glad that I\’m not the only one who hop scotches from notebook to notebook! I always thought that this was a problem. Glad to know its just part of the process. I do have to get into into the practise of carrying a notebook with me all the time though.

  126. Ralph Fletcher once said, “Write what moves you.” I often write, but do not publish my writing about what moves me because it is deeply personal. I talk about it with friends and family, but to write it makes it real…

  127. There’s something about a notebook that I just love. I love writing in them. I’m not sure, if its putting pen to paper or actually giving birth to thoughts and ideas. Whatever it is, I love it.

    Today, I wrote my mixed feelings regarding these HOLIDAYS. I’m supposed to be on holidays but it seems as if the work never ends. Maybe as the dynamic of my business changes, so too does my outlook on what’s expected in the upcoming weeks.

    I guess we’ll see what fills the pages of my notebook as I surrender to my HOLIDAYS.

  128. I have tried keeping a writers notebook before, but have never been successful with writing in it daily. As a kid I never liked writing, but as I teach my students to write, I find myself enjoying writing more and more! I hope with this experience I can become more of an avid writer like many of you.

    Today I started my writing notebook with writing about things I have been wondering lately. I found myself writing much more than I expected I would and was surprised how great it felt to write my thoughts down like I ask my students to all the time.

  129. Since middle school, I have always written in a notebook or journal. 9th grade was a horrible year for me (new to my school) and my writing every night brought comfort to me. I also kept a notebook when my husband and I first moved away from my hometown, and I was having a hard time adjusting to my new city. Now in my early 40’s, I find that I like to write on my blog. I like the writing process better, as I’m typing. Revising and editing are easier on the computer. I have notebooks that I write to do lists in, or reminder notes, but for some reason, I find that it’s easier on my computer.
    I love this writing challenge, since I don’t always find the time to write on my blog. Now with school out and having this great community of teachers and writers, I’m looking forward to writing.

    Today, I wrote about how I had to go to school today (our last day is tomorrow), and how I cleaned up my classroom. I took down an anchor chart on peer revision, and it was a writing piece I wrote in front of my kindergarten class on my dog, Toga. Toga passed away last month, and he’s been my Writer Workshop mascat, since I wrote about him for 13 years for my classes. It was sad to take down my chart and realize that I will no longer write about him, in the present. 🙁

    1. Writing is therapeutic for me sometimes, too. When I’m troubled or upset -especially when it’s because of something on the news – the first thing I do is reach for my notebook.

  130. I still have stacks of the spiral notebooks I used to jot snippets of the novels I’d intended to write by the time I reached 30. Any fiction writing I do lately is all on the computer. In fact, a few summers ago, I attempted to transfer all the silly stories on those spiral notebooks to the computer. I thought it would save space in my closet (and be a lot less dusty). I didn’t get very fair. Editing my younger self turned out to be quite a chore.

    To make a good start of Teachers Write, I drove to a community about fifteen miles to the west on the coast of Oregon and found a beautiful notebook in an independent book store. My goal is to fill it up with good things this summer.

  131. I am home with my new Teachers Write notebook. I am excited to be writing again. My last writing notebook is the one I created in graduate school. It has great stuff, but I didn’t stick with it. I pulled it out in class to demonstrate to my students how a writer’s notebook should be used and then I put it away. Today, I start a new notebook that will be a good example of what writers do.

  132. So excited that Teachers Write is finally here! I haven’t written in my journal yet today, but I did write a blog post this morning, which you can read here: http://readingtothecore.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/time-for-teachers-write/
    As for my notebook, I’m like Kate. At the moment, I have three going. One is an 8 1/2 x 11 Five Star notebook where I write mostly about education stuff. I have a smaller journal where I write random musings, and a slim journal where I write thoughts about kids books I’ve read. My most recent entry records thoughts I had after noticing some skid marks that ended at a rumpled guard rail. Weird, I know, but as Kate said, there are no rules.
    On another note, I will try to read and comment as much as I can, but I’m working on curriculum for the next three days, so I might not get to as many as I’d like. Thank you so much, Kate, for providing the forum fo this wonderful summer camp. Happy writing, everyone!

    1. And if you’re anything like me, you have no idea now just where those skid marks might lead…just that something about them made you stop and notice, and think. This is what I love about notebooks.

  133. Spent my car rides to the day care mapping a story in my head. Now need to write it all down. new learning… I wanted to tell the read what was happening the whole time “drafted” parts of the story in my head, only to realize that took away from the inferring. Off to map out some song lyrics and write a blog post about the Black Crowes.

  134. I have not used a Writer’s Notebook before, but I will definitely get started with one! I’ll start using it to jot down ideas for things I want to write about, whether stories, personal experiences, or even poetry.

  135. Notebook and pens are ready; waiting for sunrise. I think that I will need to get a smaller notebook to carry with me; to be ready when inspiration and observations avails itself.

  136. I have a notebook with stripes and the letter M on it (that is a special letter for me) and I have had that notebook for almost 2 years. I have been waiting, just waiting to finally write something, anything, in it. But it couldn’t be just anything … it had to be something special. That is a notebook I ordered with a great purpose in mind but I never quite actually wrote in it … I have small notebooks that I scribble in … but that one is still blank. I am now going to start writing in that notebook … I am still not exactly sure what I will write, but I hope to write each day because I know there are words, maybe a story, deep inside the need to come out …

    1. Sometimes, I think, we want to wait for something special or perfect to write – when the reality is that writing imperfectly and freely might be the best way to get going. I’m glad you’re writing with us this summer – let’s break in that notebook!

  137. I am glad that this is the first topic! Like many others, I’ve made attempts at keeping writer’s notebooks previously, and haven’t been successful. It’s going to be awesome to start teaching in the fall with my own notebook to share with my students. I’m looking forward to the conversations it will inspire and that will occur – real talking about real writing.

    1. I have to tell you that this made me smile:

      “It’s going to be awesome to start teaching in the fall with my own notebook to share with my students.”

      You’re going to be such a great writing mentor for them!

  138. Unlike so many of you, I have never really kept a writer’s notebook. I tried to keep a diary once, when I was little. I think I was stuck in the “diary stigma” — entries should be dramatic and full of pent-up thoughts on friends, school, boys, and family life. I tried writing how I felt I was supposed to write, dramatic and pessimistic, and quit after one day. It was too hard a task for a mostly happy, lighthearted, smiley 9-year-old.

    Now, as a teacher, I keep a writer’s notebook at school for writing workshop. I have gotten over the “diary stigma” and realize that writers can write anything in any style they want. I really only use my notebook for teaching points and modeling–it stays at school. I am happy (and a bit nervous) that this writing camp is helping me to practice what I preach.

    Today Jo Knowles invited us to write why writing is important to us in one sentence. I have never been great at one-sentence summaries, so I just started jotting down one-sentence thoughts in my new writer’s notebook. Here’s what I came up with:

    Writing is an essential skill for life.
    Writing helps you to become a better communicator.
    Writing helps you discover who you are while allowing you to be someone else at the same time.
    Writing opens up doors for my students.
    Writing forces me to be brave.
    Writing can be a more elegant way of being a chatterbox. 🙂
    Writing brings me closer together with my students.
    Writing is opportunity.

    1. I love your ideas on writing, Heidi – and I so remember being a kid and thinking that the stuff I was writing in my diary wasn’t worthy somehow, wasn’t dramatic enough. I like the way an everyday writer’s notebook reminds us that small things can still be important.

  139. Although I have several notebooks for all kinds of things, I’ve never dedicated one strictly for writing. Just having my writer’s notebook will be a motivator to get me writing every day.

  140. I haven’t really begun, but writing is important to me.

    Some of my writing will be private and just for me. Ultimately, I want to share my writing with others – to encourage and also to be encouraged, and to leave a little bit of myself behind, too. Hopefully someone will be interested.

    Random thoughts:

    My Dad kept a journal from 1956 until his death in 2009. WHAT A LEGACY!!! To even begin the process of thinking about reading his journals… the day I was born, the day we all visited Great Aunt Julia and got our cats, the day my sister and our spouses surprised Mom and Dad with a 45 anniversary party, the days leading up to his surgery …. I’ll have to write through my emotions and thoughts to be able to read about those precious and painful moments.

    Just today, without even knowing I was in a store to buy a writer’s notebook, my Mom told me someone should record the story about my Dad not being picked up after school by his Mom. His Dad found him hours later sitting on the front steps of the school, still waiting for his Mom.

    Our family has a rich family legacy and those stories need to be passed on to future generations.

    There are boxes and boxes of letters written by my ancestors from the Civil War forward. I dream and ponder what is contained in those letters and where they will take me … from researching, investigating, pursuing lost relatives, making connections with the past … It’s mesmerizing just to think about them! How fortunate I am to have that opportunity.

    Recently at my Mom’s church, author Julia Taylor Ebel, who celebrates nature, heritage and cultural history through stories and poetry, spoke about her writing and passion for encouraging others to pass along their own stories – it can be through recipes, letters, etc.

    I remember as a young girl having a small green diary with a gold lock opened by a small key. I wish it would have been just an ordinary notebook, something that I would have written in to share and grow from, not something that I wrote wishes in and other similar trivial things.

    I love the focus on writing and I want to connect via the media center with my students and their writing. I plan to create a “Mrs. Crook Writes Blog”. I value being a reflective practitioner and writing has played a major part in my critique of myself. I consider my tweets and Facebook posts writing.

    My thoughts are turned toward my sweet Dad, who I love so and dearly miss. What makes you tear up immediately and your nose sting? Although I’m not sure how long it has been since I read his obituary, when I began reading it just minutes ago I realized that was probably the hardest and best writing of my life (in collaboration with my precious Mom and Sister).

    Because I wanted to have notebooks everywhere – from my bedside table to the car – today at the dollar store I bought an assortment of 17 writing notebooks – I’m worth the investment!

    Writing won’t be easy, but what in life that is truly worthwhile is?

    Wish me luck! We all need to begin writing. If I can do it … so can you!

    Know that I’m cheering you on …


  141. I have never used a writer’s notebook. I do remember that when I graduated from college, my fiance, now my husband, gave me a notebook to write thoughts in. What a wrote about today: I just began writing about my great-grandmother, and reminded myself why I would like to tell her story. I enjoy reading historical fiction; so I am leaning on this story being told from a historical perspective. I also wrote down all of the questions that I would like to ask my great-aunt about her mother; she has been reluctant to share things with me. She comes first to my mind because she lives in MN, and I grew up with her. Then I remembered that there is one more great-aunt that is still alive that lives in Colorado; I hope to ask her questions and begin doing research about the time period of both Greece, and Brooklyn NY 1909-1945.

    1. Your great-grandmother’s story sounds like it would make a wonderful summer project! We’ll be talking more about research later on.

  142. I love that we started this way for Teachers Write. One of my goals for the summer is to really work on my writer’s notebook so that I have an example to show students this year. I found a notebook that is separated into sections and I will be doing different reflections in the different sections. Today’s entry was inspired by an idea on a resource from Corbett Harrison at The Writing Fix. I wrote about the 3 books and 3 songs I would take if I were stuck on a desert island. I am having fun working with the idea of putting some drawings and some color in my notebook also.

  143. I currently have three writer\’s notebooks going. You can find a picture of them at my blog: http://mojofingers.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-writerly-focus-to-begin-teacherswrite.html

    Notebook 1: The Red Moleskine – For on the run ideas, reading log, and sudden observations.

    Notebook 2: The Green Composition Notebook – This is a back-up notebook for Write Club (our school\’s faculty writing group) and a place where I keep lists of mentor texts and model pieces of my own writing specifically for my students to see. There\’s something comforting and nostalgic and important about that blotchy cardboard cover and bound pages. I always have one available.

    Notebook 3: The Yellow Legal Pad. I love these. All my best writing (that doesn\’t happen on the computer) happens on those. There\’s something inviting and less scary about a yellow page, rather than a scary blank white one. I prefer the heavier weight of paper, and I paper clip things into it obsessively as a I write. This is my main writing notebook for Write Club.

    The Pen: I have, this last year, become a great fan of fountain pens. Yes, they are messy. Yes, they are sometimes a tad unreliable. However, that being said, you can refill and reuse them again and again. Those of you who have a favorite pen and love the weight of it in your hand as you write or annotate life, know how heartbreaking it is to have to throw away that old friend when it dries up. A fountain pen stays a friend for a good long time.

    Best to you all!

    Jess (@MojoFingers)

    1. I have realized, reading all these comments, that I am a writer’s notebook junkie. I LOVE hearing about everyone’s different notebooks & habits!

  144. I have a confession to make. I LOVE office supply stores! I was so tempted to buy a brand-new notebook for Teachers Write!, but I restrained myself. Even though that Easy! button was calling me to browse all of the shiny-brand-new-beautiful-oh-so-cool (Look at Me! I’m so awesome!) notebooks, I refrained. Because, quite honestly, I have notebooks, and they are beat-up, but they have ME inside of them. My thoughts, ideas, dreams, quotes, scribbles, drawings, maps, and everything. They are not shiny. They are not new. But neither am I- and that’s OK.

    1. Love this…

      “They are not shiny. They are not new. But neither am I- and that’s OK.”

      I have to confess – I sometimes lack your discipline. I have a bit of a notebook surplus these days.

  145. I like to pick special writing journals…but then I always want to save them for something special. I need to start believing that any writing opportunity is a special one.

    1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Katie – the idea of saving a notebook for something special sounds great, but we can also wait…and wait…and wait…and there are so many tiny magical moments on those waiting days that might have been celebrated with words, too. I’m glad you’re starting now.

  146. I was inspired to start my notebook from Aimee Buckner’s book “Notebook Know-How: Strategies for the Writer’s Notebook.” I started it on June 5…My last entry was June 6! Oops…Now I know how hard it is for my students. I can do this! Thanks for the encouragement!

  147. Lately I have been writing more, but not necessarily in a writer’s notebook. I bought one two years ago and it sits on the bookshelf in my home office still in the cellophane wrapper. I used to keep journals when I was in school, and I came across several of them the other day when I was cleaning and organizing. They are books, I wrote in them, but I never really thought of them as writer’s notebooks, and I haven’t written in one of them for ten years.

    I may not keep a writer’s notebook per se, but what I do have are over 26,000 words of a middle grades manuscript written and saved to my personal computer. I have random thoughts for other stories saved in Evernote via my phone and Ipad. I have old-fashioned paper lists and sticky notes that clutter my desk. A Facebook timeline and a Twitter feed post my latest thoughts and shenanigans (well, a few of them). On Goodreads, I keep a running list of books I’ve read and books I want to read. And, of course, I started this blog last month.

    Sounds like a bunch of random projects I may never finish, huh? But isn’t that what being creative is all about? Someone else mentioned that they are too much of a perfectionist to keep a writer’s notebook. I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist, but I can move my words around easier when they aren’t all bound in a little black book.

    1. All those tech tools are great, and I have them, too – but you *might* want to add a small notebook to the mix. I wonder if you’d find that you have ideas when your computer/tablet/etc isn’t with you.

  148. In my writer\\\’s notebook (I have a bad habit of keeping several instead of just one at a time) I keep snippets of conversation, interesting observations etc… I also love to brainstorm title like phrases that help me formulate ideas. Recently my notebook has gone audio so that I can record items during my hour (sometimes two) long drive home from work.

    Very recently I was thinking of a particular student who does amazing work. Every week she receives an A- because of the lack of the signature. A few weeks ago, it really struck me at one point at the symbolic meaning behind that minus sign. An A- is a good grade, but the minus is a constant reminder of the emotional absence of the parent.

    It is observations like this that drive me to write. Our society is what drives the importance of literature. We have to tell the stories of the people. We have to keep the themes and lessons alive so that people can learn from our society. This is why I have to write. I have to write to make all of our struggles and sadness not endured in vain. I have to write to make all of our humor and love be abound for future generations.

    1. I love that you use your writing to reflect on your teaching. More than once, I’d write about something like this and end up questioning my own policies – looking at them from another angle helps.

  149. For the budget conscious (aren’t we all?), I save a few $$ by taking over my children’s school notebooks a the end of the school year. I tear out the used pages and use the remaining sheets for my own writing projects.

  150. sorry -missing a part of the response- each week students are required to do a reading log and part of it is to have the parent sign off on it. If the parent does not, then the grade is taken down a few points so a perfect log might receive an A- if the parent did not sign off.

  151. Without consciously using a Writer’s Notebook I have used Google Drive to essentially create a digital one. With my iPhone I have adapted to capturing moments to read and write as they become available, hence writing in Google Drive. I have a “Spark File” in Drive, inspired by Stephen Johnson. Thanks for this mini-lesson. It’s inspiration and a guide to better organize and utilize my digital notebook.

  152. I use notebooks for EVERYTHING! I have one for journalling and several for blogging ideas and others for taking notes on things I read or hear that I want to remember. I have a new one for Teachers Write, but I don’t know yet what I’ll write in it…. Probably notes about the things that are shared and ideas that come to me along the way. Thanks again for putting all this together for us! It’s a great opportunity.

  153. I’m keeping ideas and parts of pieces that come to me. My daughter is going to be a senior in high school this year, and I’ve been mentally composing letters to her that I will eventually write. I look forward to getting those thoughts on paper so I don’t forget them.

  154. I am so glad I discovered Teachers Write! I have started and stopped so many projects, my goal is to simply write more often. My challenge will be to find the time, as it competes with my work as a children’s librarian, the busy schedules of my family, and all of the other things I like to do. But I cannot believe the joy and wonder I feel when reading something I wrote years ago…some things are similar to what I would write now, but I also find so many ways in which I have changed – it’s fascinating.
    I like composition books (must be because I’ve always loved being a student!), and I currently have two: one where I write, another where I record ideas. I have journals for each of my two kids, but I don’t get to write in those nearly as often as I’d like to. I also like to keep my calendars after the years have passed, and revisit what my life was like from year to year.
    Eventually I would love to blog…I love the idea of blogging, and have had some ideas, but haven’t completely figured out what I’d like it to be (plus, there’s that pesky “time” issue…) Regardless, I feel energized now that I have a group to work with and to be inspired by. This is my first year on Teachers Write, and I’m looking forward to learning from everyone. Cheers!

  155. I write to remember.
    This is what I shared about my reason for writing.
    As for journals or notebooks, I really don’t have one. I do love them though. I love to look at beautiful or interesting or funky journals. Accidental notebooks (journals, calendars, notes from some time in the past) are more like what I have and I really like looking at them. That’s why I’m wondering if a paper notebook might be better than something online. I like to see and hold the paper and see my handwriting…I’ve read this in some of the other comments as well. On the other hand, I have my phone with me almost all the time, so that is more convenient and available. In any case, I’ll work on the notebook thing. Step one. And maybe the notebook will help me with the remembering, which goes back to my reason for writing.

  156. I have always had a writer’s notebook, even before I knew it was a writer’s notebook. It is funny- I can always tell when I have not been writing for a bit. It creeps in like a breeze or a whisper nudging me on the shoulder. I write about all sorts of things and it is amazing to read notebook entries from years ago- the same themes often present themselves. It is also the one place I try poetry– which may be better kept to myself for a millenium. I can always tell when I am rested because I pull out my notebook again! Welcome summer!

    1. It’s great that you feel “nudged” to write when you’ve been away from it a while. I think that’s the habit/feeling many of us here are hoping to form.

  157. Today I am playing around with my new moleskin app. I hope to use a digital writers notebook~ Hoping this app will be the winner! In my notebook I have been thinking about why I write (thanx Jo) and what I like to write about (thanx Kate). I like to reflect and envision on my teaching, I love to play with words, and write about my family. I am also noticing I notice the little things in life, I call this the writerly stuff! When I share these “noticings” with my friends, most roll their eyes and say- You really do see everything. Now I want to know what to do to help others see what I see, hear what I hear, maybe it’s time for a new genre…?

    1. This may be my favorite thing about writing…the way it pushes me to slow down (I move pretty quickly!) and notice small things.

  158. Yay for Teachers Write! I’m working on homework and studying for two summer courses so I’m just now getting to sharing here!
    I’m like Shawn, I have a couple of writer’s notebooks but I find myself writing notes to myself in the Notes app on my phone or in Evernote, and then I can access Evernote on my laptop, phone or iPad and that means I always have access to it when I need it. When I do write notes, I find myself asking myself questions because I’m usually piecing together ideas. Lots of times my questions start with: What if…? and then it leads to other ideas and other what ifs or ahas and then I can keep thinking and add ormake changes later.

  159. I have always had writer’s notebooks. I fill them with ideas, questions I’m asking myself about those ideas, lists, and thoughts. My goal in this workshop is to take those thoughts further. I’ve only written non-fiction so far and I’d like to try my hand at fiction. My problem is that I’m hyper-critical of myself and that is a huge writer’s block wall to surmount.

    1. Totally understand that struggle. When I’m drafting, I really can’t go back and look at anything I’ve written until I’m finished with the draft – I get too stressed out about how not perfect it is. But if I wait to the end to reread/revise, then I have that great feeling of having FINISHED and don’t get as overwhelmed by the flaws. Still – this is very much an issue for me, too – so much that I wrote a poem about it a while ago!


  160. I write to make sense of the world. Many times just for me. Sometimes to help others. My journals, my postits, my collages in the notebooks when words get in the way have helped me get through the day or the difficult time – unless of course, I avoid what I know makes me whole, and leave the notebooks gathering dust. This rich discussion wants me to not only dust off a writer’s notebook I’ve shunned through a difficult year but makes me want to find the story that goes along with a student’s quote from years ago – “there’s an ache waiting outside of my head.” Thanks for giving me the kick in the writer’s notebook that I need!

  161. While I do not write nearly as much as I would like, I do consider myself a collector of notebooks! Today I decided to make a pile of all the notebooks I have purchased with the best of intentions, take a picture, and paste it directly onto page one of my official notebook! I often feel that I am too focused on the big picture and I forget the details around me. My goal is to really listen to the details and commit them to paper this summer!

    1. I love hearing from people like you who put photos/artifacts/collages in their notebooks. This is something I haven’t tried, but I love the idea!

  162. Since the invention of the internet, I haven\\\\\\\’t written in a notebook. I write online in a private diary. I cannot stand handwriting anymore! I have been writing in the online diary since 1999 …on and off. The last time I wrote was last August. So I jotted something down today. I will try to do that daily. I miss it!

    1. It’s interesting to me how technology changes our writing habits – I’m thankful for word processing (especially given my awful handwriting!) but I wouldn’t give up my paper notebook for anything. It’s just…different, and I think the tactile nature of it brings out different kinds of ideas.

  163. I actually do not have a notebook, because my handwriting is so atrocious that it is a hindrance to me. I feel like I became more of a writer by technology that has made it more readily accessible for me to write. I use Evernote for everything and write in it from my ipad, laptop or phone…wherever I am when the ideas come to me.

    1. Sounds like you’ve found what works best for you! Still…a messy notebook might be a fun addition to your purse or backpack, just in case!

  164. I love the composition books that my students use. I have a confession though. I tend to write entries based on what we’re doing in class.

  165. Well, I need to go get a notebook, but something I would really like to get some ideas down for are the upcoming articles I need to write. I was chosen for the year to be a guest columnist in my local newspaper. I have three more articles I need to do, and I need to think of good topics to do them on:)

    1. A writer’s notebook sounds like the perfect place to brainstorm for those articles – you never know when a great idea will appear!

  166. Remembering the perfect storm of childhood writing when I could sit on Newport Bay, lapping waves, gentle breeze and salty air. I think I have always wanted that in order to write but now I realize I just need to write wherever I am. I can have many WNB- a novel idea for me- and continue my memories. Thanks for the wake-up! This going to be a fun summer.

  167. Like you, I have 3 current WNB’s on the go – one in my office, one on my bedstand, and of course … the one in my purse that I carry with me everywhere! Today, I wrote down the lyrics to a song that my quirky middle school student sang to me on the second last day of school — I love that it’s all about books … and sticky notes … and reading! Thank you for all the work you’ve put into this, it is very much appreciated!

  168. When I was in 9th grade I started the practice of writing regularly in a notebook. Those early notebooks lend a lot of insight into why I am who I am today. Many of them are filled with letters that I needed to write, but never intended to send, and prayers that needed to be written and said aloud.

    Like many others have said, my notebooks help me sift through my thoughts and bring clarity and understanding where I had lots of confusion previously. Today I wrote about my increasing frustration with the “system” of education these days. I’m a bit of an idealist, but the experiences I’ve had with my teenage son and his education have really made me wonder about what drives education these days. Between some bad experiences there and the craziness being perpetuated by our state and federal governments, I’m trying hard to hold onto hope and belief if what’s good in education, teaching, and learning. I feel like there’s a journal article, an op-ed piece or maybe just a letter to my son’s high school principal that needs to come out of all this. Today I worked on sorting through my thinking on paper.

    1. You were a more thoughtful 9th grader than I was. My 9th grade notebooks are all full of musings on which boy I liked better. 🙂

  169. I worried about how I was going to get a new notebook on this busy day, then remembered an end-of-school present given to me by a student and her mom. It’s a tiny book with a lock and red ribbon. The edges of each page create an intricate design. It’s not great for longish writings, but it will be my notebook for intentions and story ideas, something I’ll carry in my purse. I plan to continue to work on my story from last Teachers Write on my IPad. My intention for this workshop is to write at least 15 minutes a day. I did it last summer, so I’ll do it again! Thanks again for this! It’s so helpful.

    1. I love that so many here read this post and then remembered that they had a notebook all ready to go! It’s the remembering, I think, that gets us writing. Glad you’re with us this summer!

  170. I am very excited about this year. I hope that I can do a better job making time to write this year. I started a notebook last year, so I plan to continue in that one. I love my notebooks too! I am so glad to hear I am not the only one with several books going at one time!

  171. I used to keep a writer’s notebook many years ago, but I stopped and never took it up again. My writing muscle atrophied, I think. I’m looking forward to keeping a writer’s notebook again. Since I’m late in checking out the mini-lesson, I haven’t written anything in it today.

  172. I am so excited! I have a past filled with journal and poetry writing which has subsequently gone inactive. Until now. I dug out an old journal so I could start Jo’s Monday prompt but will be getting a new journal…I just like to categorize and keep things separate like that. Thank you for helping me revive the writer in me. I am eternally grateful.

  173. The noble truth: I write to honor God, entertain my family and friends, educate people, and minister to the least, the last, and the lost who suffer trials big and small all around us.  The selfish truth:  I write because it makes me feel good about where I’ve been, how far I’ve come, and where I’m headed.

  174. I wrote this after my bike ride this morning:
    Trek Domane
    Flying on Route 2
    20 miles per hour
    Deer in roadway
    Standing on Route 2
    Not moving
    Getting closer
    slowing down
    still standing
    still staring
    at me
    engage brakes
    tire squeals
    deer saunters into woods
    head on collision
    with beauty

  175. My writer’s notebooks reflect my life – disorganized organization! I thought maybe I’d try to organize them, but realized that wouldn’t be me! While it can be a pain to go through them in attempts to find the one little snippet I know is buried in there, I get to enjoy a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” as I reread old stuff.

  176. My writer’s notebooks reflect my life – organized disorganization. I thought about organizing them this summer, but realized that wouldn’t be me. While it can be a pain to go through them looking for that little snippet I know is buried somewhere, I get to enjoy a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” along the way as I reread old stuff!

  177. I am a collector of writer’s notebooks. I like to find notebooks that have beautiful and unique covers. A new writer’s notebook has always been my go-to souvenir whenever I am traveling or on a family vacation for as long as I can remember. I try to get it early in the trip so that I can add thoughts and artifacts while still traveling. I believe there is no better way to remember the fun that was had than by leafing through pages scattered with words, ticket stubs, postcards, brochures, and pictures of a carefree time gone by.

  178. I have always been way more of a reader than a writer, but I have always wanted to “be good at” writing. I, too, am one who has a massive collection of notebooks with blank pages. I find myself writing a page or two, then never touching the book again. I would love to be able to fill one up. When I do write, I like to rant about the things that bother me, then rant about the things I love. No one ever sees my writing, so hopefully these exercises give me the confidence I need!

  179. I fear I have writers notebooks and notebooks and notebooks and notebooks along with scattered pieces of writing on scraps of newspaper, ticket stubs, receipts, and other detritus I grabbed when inspiration or ideas struck. I love my notebooks! They provide me with examples for my students of how messy writing can be.

  180. Hi, Kate! This is a great post. This is my second attempt to post. If the first came through feel free to delete this one. My writers notebooks are numerous and messy. They are augmented by scraps of ideas scribbled on receipts, newspaper, or whatever happens to be within reach when ideas appear. They also provide tangible examples for my students of how messy writing can be.

  181. Hi, Kate! I am excited to participate in TeachersWrite! for the first time. Thank you for hosting such a worthwhile group!! I’ve been wanting to blog more on my website – with both professional and personal entries, and being a part of this program will help me do that! I may not participate every day but I’m going to try to get involved as much as I can this summer. I have a few notebooks always nearby. One is a Mom Journal I’ve had since my daughter was little, chronicling fun moments I don’t want to forget. One is my thankful journal where I try to jot down five things weekly I’m thankful for. One is for my continual to-do lists – I make a few daily. Finally, one is for story ideas – there is a novella I have outlined. I’d like to start writing it soon.

  182. Ironically my first several writers notebooks were the ones I used with my students in writers workshop. In them we made maps of our hearts, visual lifelines, observations, overheard conversations, and wonderings. These were the seeds for memoirs, realistic fiction, poetry, and informational books.
    My writers notebooks for the last four years have included excerpts of writing exercises from classes, notes from writing conferences, jottings of ideas for my novel, character interviews, and lists of events that should could occur next in UNDER LOCH AND KEY. I’ve occasionally written ideas for new characters and plots for other stories, but so many of my writers notebooks have been devoted to the novel, it’s been hard for me to shift gears.

    My newest piece of writing is nonfiction entitled YOU CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME and will require a lot of research. My goal this summer is to start doing the research, to take notes in my writers notebook, and to jot down some try-its. I’m curious to see how my latest writers notebook evolves.

    1. The last couple years I’ve had students buying me journals as teachers gifts because they know how much I like to write. It’s such a nice memento of the child and I know it is something that will always be put to use.

      1. Should have said that student give them as gifts. In my last response I made it sound like I was forcing them to buy it for me. That was not the case.

  183. Oh, I think I have more writing notebooks than I can count. I’ve discovered that, for me, spiral bound works best. I like to have a page that lays flat on whatever surface I’ve found. Other than that, I love trying new shapes, sizes, colors, textures, etc.

  184. I am on vacation, but brought my notebook with me. It is a cheap composition book I bought during the back to school sales. I have several of them. I like to jot down quotes from books I am reading. Sometimes I glue in pictures from magazines and sometimes I make lists. It a mismosh of things. I am excited to begin, but won’t be doing a ton this week as I am spending time with family. Have a great week!

  185. At a house in Killington with colleagues. Sharing a space not home to any of us.
    Sharing music, sharing laughter, sharing some of our lives.
    Working, thinking, brainstorming, solving difficult problems.
    Outside life moves forward, Bruins lose, little girls tell thunder stories, life moves on. Killington.

  186. My headband is so threatening….
    June 24th, 21:35
    I need a haircut. Technically, my wayward, unruly hair has been needing professional attention for awhile now, but little did I know that my procrastination in waiting until the conclusion of summer school to visit the hairdresser could almost lead to the unthinkable—a near breach in testing security.


    I visited a Pearson testing site today to take some pesky little assessments required for my new National Board Certification attempt. After finally gaining entrance through the locked doors into the unmarked building, I sat and read all the testing requirements and procedures. I was prepared to lock up my phone and my purse. I was not shocked to read that my water bottle and gum would have to go. Imagine my surprise to learn that my delicate black plastic headband that secured my bangs out of my eyes was considered a headdress.

    No, it had no feathers. No veil was attached. No fabric. No jewels or bling of any kind. In fact, it’s not even solid plastic—it has an intricate design in the plastic that makes it 50% or more comprised of holes.

    Not. Permitted.

    Being over an inch wide by mere millimeters, it was too big. It was a headdress.

    I asked to visit my car and be re-buzzed into the building. I thought that amidst the rubble I tend to carry around with me there would surely be something smaller that would pass their inspection. (By now, I was fearing a cavity search.) Three buzzes later, they let me re-enter, a much more nervous gal than when I’d first arrived in the parking lot earlier that morning.

    I finally entered the building once again, this time bearing a sparkly and glittery pink and black headband. Not fully certain it would pass, I also had a barette that had I had found under the seat tucked safely into my back pocket.

    I was eyed skeptically. True criminal intent seemed to lie within the fake jewels of the $5.00 accessory. I had to take it off to have it measured. (Again, my fears of further searching emerged.) Being slightly more than ½ inch wide, it too had to be abandoned to the locker. I respectfully and fearfully asked for permission to use the barette, cursing my procrastinating spirit.

    Standing in the restroom in the hall, admiring my gray roots as I pinned back the stupid, errant hair, I took some deep breaths and prayed this was not some kind of twisted foreshadowing of things to come. Would I be given some truly horrid prompt? Would they stand right behind me the entire three hours?

    I went back in, turned my pockets inside out, let the proctor look into my back pockets, lifted my hair to expose my neck and the backs of my ears to ensure no wireless communication could occur, showed my forearms for some strange reason, then felt compelled to let the proctor have a peek at my ankle brace. I let them scan my palm (for the 45th time) to ensure I was the same person bearing the license plate with my picture on it, and I finally entered and took the test.

    Who knew that sitting down for a brutal test would actually feel like a relief, the easy part?!

    Halfway through, I had the option of taking a restroom and drink break, but I decided to put my teacher no-bathroom-break skills to work, fearing what might happen if I moved from the spot.

    When all was said and done, my NEVER AGAIN will I do National Boards resolution was reaffirmed. I am now mentally braced for the library praxis in August, knowing that airport screening has NOTHING on Pearson testing security. Seriously, future presidents should not contact them for information about education in the United States, they should use their employees as Secret Service protection agents!

  187. Writing is important to me because I can voice all I’m thinking and feeling and wondering…writing flows for me more easily, the right word or image comes more readily to my pen than it does when I talk

  188. My notebook writing over the past 30 or so years has progressed in fits and starts. I have a journal documenting my drive across the U.S after graduating from college, and a couple that I started for each of my kids. Giving birth seemed monumental enough events to earn written records. I even kept up with a little journal for a few months after my now 17-year old son was born. I have several half-full journals that I have collected in drawers over a couple of decades, as well as some blank ones that were given to me as gifts. A few years ago, I donated a few blanks to a church rummage sale. They had covers I just couldn’t picture sandwiching my words. I have begun using Evernote more regularly to capture snippets and ideas. One of my favorites is a \”good intentions\” notebook where I keep track of nice things people say or do for me or someone else. I also try to capture ideas and images during backpacking trips. I have been known to fashion journals out of a few pieces of folded paper tucked in a ziploc bag with a pencil in order to keep the weight down in my pack.

    Whenever I re-read my musings, I am pleasantly surprised. What often seemed to be random, trivial, or inconsequential scribblings can take on new meaning when time has passed beneath them. Self-discipline is not my second nature. I love the feeling I get when I am in the groove of a regular writing habit, so how do I allow myself to fall off the wagon? My husband and I have come to count on one another to stay motivated for rock climbing, especially on days when the couch beckons. Exercise is important. For me, so is writing. I can see from my writing patterns that I am my most productive when I feel accountable for it to someone other than myself. Writing Camp, here I come!

  189. I have been a writing teacher for a few years now, but am making the switch to librarian for the first time this year….I am super excited!! I am very excited about starting to share my writing with others and starting my own writer’s notebook. I will be jotting ideas that pop in my head throughout the day. I am currently trying to find the perfect idea to start writing about and I look forward to this writing camp for inspiration.

  190. I’m excited to begin my writer’s notebook! I’ve been playing with using Penzu, but will be buying a physical notebook soon (easier than pulling out the computer every time I have an idea!). I have a feeling that my notebook is going to be filled with funny things my kids say, facts I find interesting, or quotes that inspire me.

  191. My name is Rachel, I am going to be teaching kindergarten in the fall, and it will be first year teaching after doing my year out of school as a kindergarten special education IA. I have always Loved writing, and used to do a lot more before i started working. I mostly write in journals, free form, free verse, sometimes it sounds poetic, but usually its me writing down my train of thoughts as they happen. I love doing though, and thought this would be a great way to get back into it and to get in gear for teaching writing in the fall.

  192. This is all new to me. I’ve never considered myself a writer although I did place in a creative writing contest back in the 9th grade. “Flashback” 🙂 I finally took the plunge with my 5th graders this past year and decided to teach them how to write poetry. You know, because you can write fragments and get away with it! I fell in LOVE with writing poetry. Snatches of thought drifting through time. Now I’ve taken another plunge with Teachers Write. I want to immerse myself in writing so that I can help my 6th graders become writers. I’ve got my notebook. I’m starting to write down fleeting thoughts. I’m a writer. A novice, but a writer. 🙂 Can’t wait to meet all of you, learn from you, and see where this journey takes me. HAPPY WRITING!


  193. WoW! This is amazing. My name is Michele and I am a 6th grade teacher in a middle school. I am interested in learning to be a better writing model for my students. I’m also interested in learning how to publish articles on teaching and education. Thanks for letting me join this journey!

  194. As I read through all these posts, I feel sad that I didn’t begin journaling earlier in my life. It would be so helpful now as I try to remember which of my children did what….they’re all so close in age, their childhoods blur for me..But, I’m inspired now to begin..it’s not too late to record my thoughts, the memories of my children as young adults that I want to commit to memory. Thanks Teachers Write for giving me that little push I needed to rediscover my writing life!

  195. Oh dear. I’m a bit of a journal hoarder, I believe. Although I regretfully discarded my childhood journals at the end of high school, I have every journal I’ve written in since then — and I can’t imagine ever parting with them! I tend to look for lined journals with inspirational covers and a spiral binding. I work out of several at the same time, keeping different journals for different projects. And pens are important, too! Currently I’m a big fan of the Sharpie pen — in many different colors! 🙂 In the past few years, though, I’ve been dabbling with digital journals and have the same issue of forgetting which app I’ve used or sticking with it. I want to, but I always go back to my paper and pen. 🙂

  196. I went to Joy Knowles website and wrote on her Monday morning prompt, “why is writing important to you?”. What follows is part of my response to that question:
    Writing is important to me because when I write I discover things about myself that would have remained hidden otherwise. Writing allows me to get at the deepest recesses of my mind and heart. I feel energized and joyful when this happens. But this doesn’t happen just like that. It only happens when I give myself the gift of time. When I sit down for at least 15 minutes to write I end up learning things about myself that become ahas! for me. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen but it happens often enough that I keep coming back to writing as if it were a therapy session.

  197. I wrote in one of my notebooks this morning. One that I haven’t used in awhile. I keep it on my bedstand, and used to write “morning pages”, (Cameron’s method). So this morning I wrote in it for the first time in months. I wrote about what it takes to stay positive, about the ants in my living room, and the nature of miracles. An eclectic mix, I know. I keep a list of possible writing topics in the back of the journal and added a few ideas. Very satisfying.

  198. My father-in-law died on Tuesday…

    …Before my in-laws moved form Loudoun to NC, we used to get together for holidays, birthdays and other occasions. My parents were always invited.

    When I think of my father-in-law, Byron, having just passed from this world to the next, I recall a photograph from one of the many family gatherings. My dad, Charles, and Byron are outside seated on one of those old 1950’s metal gliders. They’ve escaped the clamor and din and are talking quietly. The camera captures their backs and faces turned to one another.

    I like to think they are together in the afterlife chatting on the glider, at peace.

      1. My prayers for you are heading upward. I wish you strength to get through this sad event in your life. The finality of death hit me when my mother died unexpectly a year and a half ago. Your memory of your family in the metal swing echos my memory of my mom. She lived in the county and had the swing on her front porch. She spent many an evening out there watching the lightning bugs and the hummingbirds. Thank you so much for reminding me of this memory.

  199. Last week I finished a 2 week writing institute for teachers. It was one of the best things I’ve done for myself professionally and personally. It gave me an “excuse” to write…a lot. Since finishing up I have slacked again. With two young kids it’s easy to do. Anyway, we started a Writer’s Notebook in class and I have kept up wtih it. I have added 2 entries in it since class has ended. I also started a new one to take notes on professional books I am reading. They are all about Writer’s Workshop.