Writer's Notebook

(I'm out of questions. Please send more.)

One of the best ways to improve your writing is to keep a writer's notebook and to WRITE IN IT EVERY DAY! (Yes, I'm yelling.)

Write anything. Write stream-of-consciousness. Write descriptions of what you're looking at. Go to the mall and eavesdrop and write down the conversations. Or watch the people as they walk past and describe the scene as they interact non-verbally. Or go to the park and make up stories about the people you see there. (My daughter and I do this all the time. You'd be surprise at the number of master criminals roaming through our city.) Write letters. Write e-mails. Write anything, but do it creatively. And do it every single day. Religiously.

I didn't always believe this. I thought if I wasn't writing on a story, it didn't count. And I thought I could write two or three days a week and that would be just as good. But many moons ago I wrote user manuals for software companies. My boss made all of us technical writers keep a writer's notebook. We were required to write creatively for 15 minutes a day, on company time. Within just a few weeks, I noticed a marked increase in the speed of my writing AND much less need for rewriting. I was training my brain to think faster, to pull descriptions and words more quickly, to translate what I was feeling with my physical senses more accurately into word images. Never again will I poo-poo the value of daily writing and a writer's notebook.

Have you tried this? What was your experience? If you haven't tried it, experiment for a week and then come back here and tell us about your results.

1 comment:

Josi said...

I have done this off and on, never very consistently and I've doubted it's effectiveness. the big challenge I've always had is that my writing time was so precious and hard to come by so it was difficult to talk myself into writing non-book stuff during that time. A couple of weeks ago, however, during a particular slump, I blogged about 'author pages' which sounds exactly what you're talking about. I was supposed to do it every day, I made it three days but by the end of it I had finally figured out my format and a couple of key scenes. perhaps it was a coincidence, but I'll be doing it again in a couple weeks to test my theory. It's interesting to hear it from the perspective of a technical writer and how it helped your overall writing. Very encouraging. I honestly don't know how to do it every day though. I'm already up at 5:00 to fit everything in--but it's something for me to ponder on.