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What is a Daybook?


You are probably wondering what a Writer's Daybook is. A Daybook, sometimes called a Writer's Notebook, is a small notebook that a writer uses on a daily basis to write down ideas, bits and pieces of dialog, and other story data. It is a place to reflect on your writing process and gather ideas for a future writing projects.  You might write down interesting words you overhear, descriptions that suddenly come to you, or ideas you want to remember. Ideally, writers carry thier Daybook with them everywhere because ideas can strike at any time. Maybe while walking through the grocery store you overhear an interesting conversation and want to use it as part of the dialogue in a story you are working on.  Or, perhaps while walking through the mall, you see an interesting shopper and want to remember what she looks like, her quirks and descriptions, such as clothes worn, different habits, manerisms, and other characteristics unique to that individual. A Writer's Daybook is a way of capturing a little slice of life.


Tips for Using a Writer's Daybook from Author Ralph Fletcher:



How To Use Your Writer's Notebook

Use your notebook to breathe in the world around you. You can write about:

  1. What amazes/surprises/angers you
  2. What you wonder about
  3. What you notice
  4. "Seed Ideas" or "Triggers" to generate stories or poems
  5. Small details that intrigue you
  6. Snatches of talk you overhear
  7. Memories
  8. Lists
  9. Photos, articles, ticket stubs or other artifacts
  10. Your own sketches, drawings or doodles
  11. Quotes or inspiring passages from books or poems


  1. Reread to dig out the best material
  2. Experiment with new kinds of writing
  3. Try to write something beautiful but don't expect all your writing to be great. Give yourself permission to write badly!
  4. Write about personal things--fears, nightmares, or dreams--that contain strong feelings
  5. Write about writing


Remember these tips:

  • Keep your notebook with you so you can write at any place and time.
  • Pull your notebook out whenever you have a few minutes with nothing else to do.
  • The notebook you keep should reflect you. If you like to draw, draw in your notebook.
  • Writing can be fun. Your notebook is a place to enjoy writing.


Prewriting Strategies For Your Writing:

  1. Write in Your Writer's Notebook. A writer's notebook gives you an easy, informal, no-pressure way to start thinking about a topic. Great for brand-new "seed ideas".
  2. Talk It Out. Sometimes I'll get together with a friend to kick around an idea I'm thinking about. There's a little danger here--if you talk too much you can talk the mystery out of an idea. I have found that a little talk goes a long way.
  3. List Ideas. Lists are a great way to gather material. The idea is to generate ideas. Don't worry if some ideas are better than others. And don't worry too much about getting the ideas in the right order.
  4. Make A Web. You may have done this before. Put the main idea in the center, and make a "spoke" for each connected idea.
  5. Make A Simple Time-line. I find this idea very helpful for writing stories. Jot down when each important event happened. Now, where do you want to start the writing? At the beginning of the timeline? In the middle? At the end?
  6. Three by Three by Three. Give yourself three minutes to write three ideas on three different topics. Great for generating ideas.
  7. Free Write. Give yourself a short amount of time (five to seven minutes) to jot down ideas, words, fragments related to a topic. If you doing this right your pen should never leave the page. One friend of mine calls it "Hot-Penning". Don't think: write! Let your pen go wild. Later you can go back and circle any parts you want to use.


All these ideas come to you from Ralph Fletcher's site, which is full of great ideas for aspiring writers.

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