For all my talk on using technology, social media, and manual typewriters to work my magic, there’s no denying that there’s something satisfying and permanent about using ink and paper. Please, please tell me I’m not the only weirdo who still enjoys sniffing a sheet of paper that has fresh ink written all over it. Or loves the feel of a warm set of labels that just popped out of the printer at work.
… that’s enough of that …
Over the years, since I was at least a teenager, I’ve tried to maintain some kind of diary, journal or record of my day to day life. The more I read back on my poorly written entries, the more I realized my life wasn’t worth recording. It was the same thing over and over again – church, family band gigs, travel to some state or another we had family in, and so on. I know even the travel part still sounds privileged, and I’m grateful for the opportunities my dad’s job with the USAF allotted us. As for the day to day stuff? Well, let’s just say they entries would never be stored for safekeeping in the Smithsonian.
I was torn when the idea for a “writer’s notebook” came up on one of those “I’m just scrolling through social media” nights. As much as I love handwriting, making lists, and checking things off, I wasn’t sure if it was something that was for me. I spent the summer of 2020 – when everything was shut down – watching a myriad of bullet journal videos, artsy channels, and “here’s how I made my own leather travel journal!” tutorials. Stickers felt wasteful. And my painting skills are nonexistent. So any attempt at a fancy bullet-type journal just felt…not right.
Of course, not everything has to be shared online. I didn’t need to make my own channel just to show my poor attempts at keeping up with the journaling. It didn’t click in my mind that keeping a notebook of dreams and plans is really all I need. So a few weeks ago I bought one of my favorite types of notebooks [absolutely must be college ruled with easy turn rings and thick pages] from Target and opened to the first page.
Around the same time I was planning a complete overhaul of this website, and I thought, “What a great way to incorporate two ideas into one: website planning and notebook planning.” I’m not going to date the pages or use decals or stamps or washi tape. There will be no glitter, paints or e6000 weighing down what’s actually important on the page.
Apparently, I’ve always been more practical than creative. Just as God never gifted me the ability to play an instrument or be musically capable like the rest of my family. But give me a pen and paper and boy oh boy will I go to town planning whatever needs to be planned! And that is very much a Redman trait I’m glad I have (my mother’s side of the family). We’re planners. Always have been and probably will always be. Then again, my mom can also sing. I cannot. There goes that theory. Oh well.
Back to the notebook.
Just like my website, the notebook has been divided into four different sections: Short Stories, Research, Book Wishes, and Research Trip. I liked these topics because any of them can easily be expanded upon in a blog post for this site and will make total sense as to why they’re included.
Short Stories. This section will give my writer’s brain a place to jot down random story ideas, or even ideas for maybe a nonfiction book as well. Brainstorming on a computer is all well and good, but what happens when you’re in public not around your notebook OR a laptop? That’s what your note app is for, and can be transferred elsewhere later. But I like seeing things on paper, where I can easily make other notes in the margins.
Research. Hello, research my love. Do I still have the notebooks from my first WIP from back in 2016? Absolutely. You can’t easily accidentally delete a notebook like you can on an external hard drive. No…I haven’t done that at all (sarcasm). I often print out my typed research just so I’ll have the reference to look back on. Who knows what form of data sharing they’ll invent next that’ll make all prior formats obsolete? Nope. Not gonna risk it.
Book Wishes. This section is pretty self explanatory, but this is where I’ll maintain an already giant list of books – both fiction and nonfiction – I want to read within this year. I’ve already crossed three titles off the list, and I have three more waiting for me on my Libby app. It’s my own way of reading through the year without being too influenced by everyone else trying to reach specific reading goals. Do I really need to read 200 books by December 2022? No.
Research Trip. Back in 2019 I had grand plans to spend a weekend writing in the Library of Congress. But the political scene in Washington, DC wasn’t looking too good that year, and then the world shut down early in 2020. My Megabus tickets were refunded, and all trip planning ceased. It was a very sad summer indeed. But now that things are a bit more optimistic – just a bit – and people are traveling again, I feel confident in my planning abilities. Maybe I will do The Library of Congress after all, or perhaps I’ll go someplace completely out of the blue!
As with every new thing I try, I don’t know how long this “writer’s notebook” thing will last. For now, this is a fun way to revamp both my blogging life and encourage my journey into nonfiction. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying something new, right? So if you’re thinking about changing something about your writing or blogging journey, stop thinking and just do it.