Novel in a  Notebook!

I may SERIOUSLY have to do that for my next novel. I am one of those super organized people when it comes to much of my life, but when it comes to novel-writing, I’ll admit that I have notes and random scribblings stashed around in various notebooks//journals. That sounds like a FABULOUS idea.

As well, one of the posts I discussed yesterday in my Wednesday Wanderment talked about writing a novel in a notebook first before transcribing it into the computer. I actually may try this as well. I love the feel of pen and paper. It is so romantic and it can really help me, personally, to get into the zone a bit better. The interwebs are just so distracting!

What do you think? Novel in a Notebook might be a good idea? Do you ever write your novels down on paper first? I’d love to hear from people who organize their stories physically in a notebook and those who also write their first draft on paper! Share, share, share!

Seriously Cool Idea
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  • What I do is get a journal and pour all my brainstorming into that. It’s usually with me for a full month as I just write whatever comes to mind about the story in question. It’s not in any order, but usually answers a few questions. Questions, answers, characters, plot ideas, and various other types, I even sketch in it if necessary. Then, once the brainstorming is over, I pull the information out of the journal and type it up on the computer, putting it in order. Print it and put it into a binder then, when I write on that particular story, I pull it out and use it as reference material.

    I have also tried to write my stories out on paper, but I usually find that after the first or second chapter I move to the computer because I type faster than I write. I also have less risk of my kids drawing on the finished product as opposed to using a notebook. But that’s just me 🙂

    • Haha, gotta watch out for pets and kids when writing on paper, for sure. What a cool way to keep track of your notes! I have got to try something that’s a little more organized. Thanks for stopping by, Lady Kins!

  • LM,
    Thanks for the post and the link. This technique sounds a lot like a written outline. As an unabashed “pantser,” I’m not sure it would work for me, but I’m intrigued by it. I get frustrated writing longhand because my brain works quicker than I can write (plus my penmanship is atrocious), though it does force me to really think a lot harder and concentrate on the words. Good luck!

    • I am also a “mostly” pantser writer. I do, however, like to plan out characters and their personalities. I often sketch their appearance also. I like to have the first couple of scenes outlined, but then I sort of write it on the fly from there. Thanks for visiting!

  • OK, stupid question time from someone who has never written a novel, but might like to some day:

    – Why not use a spreadsheet?
    – Why not use OneNote or other note organizing application?

    Why does it have to be a physical notebook and paper? (Of course, my problem is that my handwriting is barely legible, and even though I can write 20-30 wpm (you try it!), I can type 80-100 wpm)

    • I think you could certainly do those things, Bill. I think a lot of writers, though, really do love (and miss) the feel of a pen in their hands and the physical act of forming words with the stylus. Paper has a smell, too. I miss that smell sometimes when I’m typing. Don’t get me wrong, I love to type. I am a super-fast typer and it is a very efficient way to write novels. I do miss writing in notebooks sometimes. 🙂

  • My handwriting was always poor when I was young. Barely passible. When I was about 14, I learned to copy morse code to get my amateur radio license. As I progressed to higher speeds, I had to modify my writing technique to copy faster. I never learned how to copy behind — where you are writing the characters from several letters or words ago.

    This process left my handwriting even less legible. I still write on paper frequently. I never was much of a note-taker in school, but when I entered the job market after graduation, I made it a habit of taking notes at every meeting. (I wish I had my nearly 12 years of notebooks from when I worked at Hayes Microcomputer Products — there’s enough material for a good book in there — but they are long gone, I left them when I left) The notes are less for future reference, but more to fix the material in my mind.

    Maybe this is what I need to do in Hapkido — write down my 95 techniques so I can remember them.

    So, to me, reference material is best in an electronic form. Writing with pen and paper is for stuff you want to remember. Isn’t that weird?

    • That makes sense, I suppose. I always keep my “real” journals on paper. As far as handwriting goes, mine was pretty bad until about second grade. After that, it made a huge turn for the better, which is honestly pretty typical for female children. I learned in all my teaching courses and in anecdotal evidence that females develop small motor skills a bit faster than boys do, etc. Most boys tend to improve their handwriting with cursive because the hands don’t have to pick up the pencil as often. It’s a grand shame that some schools are taking out cursive (shakes head…) In high school//middle school, I made a conscious effort to change my handwriting. I actually sat and copied the alphabet in different styles until I made the one I wanted. I write this way to this day! It is definitely doable to improve or change one’s writing, but it takes lots of practice and work. It can be boring, I suppose, but I’ve always enjoyed it. 🙂

      • My daughter Lauren has even worse handwriting than I (if that’s even possible). When we homeschooled her, Theresa has the epiphany that 100 year ago, everyone had good penmanship. She started Lauren doing a number of exercises, and her writing improved greatly.

        But good penmanship isn’t a super valuable skill today, so we don’t teach or drill it enough.

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