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8 ways to use your writing notebook

Writer’s love office supplies. In fact, the only thing they love more than a sale at Staples is a deal on journals. I have a collection of leather bound ones, spiral bound ones, hard covers, and soft covers. Not to mention, I probably have more one subject notebooks that I can ever use. However, when they go on sale during the back to school months, I’m lining up to buy the maximum amount for 25¢ each. Sometimes, you get lucky and they’re 10¢ each. I just got chills typing that!

The strange thing about collecting all those notebooks, is that I primarily write on the computer. Almost never with a pad and paper unless I’m somewhere without power or my battery is dead. But like my plethora of planners, I like having a notebook handy to jot things down, make a things-to-do list, or just to organize my day. I almost always have one with me.

When I teach a creative writing course, I give my students an assignment to go buy a journal with a cover that inspires them. If you see one that makes you smile, get it and put it in your purse or in your briefcase, and take it with you wherever you go. The prettier or dynamic, the better.

And don’t forget the pen.

But stay away from the pens that are on sale. I just bought a set of twenty blue pens for the clearance price of a dollar. None of them worked—even after I scribbled to get the ink flowing. I like roller ball ink pens, but sometimes those leak. Get yourself a good pen and keep it with the journal. If you don’t know where to find one, check out Levenger. It’s the Sears Christmas Wish Book for writers.

Here’s what you can do with your writer’s notebook…

1. Eavesdrop and write down a conversation word for word. This will give you a good ear for dialog as well as understand that a lot of things we say are in body language and in some cases unspoken.

2. Describe a person sitting across from you. Use this exercise to avoid using food words to describe their coloring.

3. Brainstorm new book ideas.

4. Jot down notes on marketing from a podcast that you’re listening to.

5. Study the market. Write down five authors or books similar to the one that you’re writing and follow them to see what they do for marketing and how those books are selling. Pay close attention to social media and any keywords or meta data they use. If your book is similar and they’re successful you’re going to want to utilize this information.

6. Add a roll of tape and scissors to your backpack, purse, or portable office and you can adhere business cards or newspaper clippings into your writing notebook for reference. If you flip through a magazine and see a model or an actor that you want to use as inspiration for your character, you can cut it out and attach it to your writing notebook.

7. You can do speed sprints. Set a timer for fifteen minutes and then free write. You’ll be surprised what shakes loose during this journal time. In some cases, it will be a new kernel of an idea. In others, it will be a shopping list or a diary entry where you explore what’s bothering you. In any event, it’s a good place to get these things out in the open.

8. Your writer’s notebook could double as your planner or fill in for one in a pinch if you don’t have one handy. If you are writing a series, you can have a notebook be what’s called a “series bible,” which is basically a reference book for the series. In the series bible, you would sketch out maps of the town—if it’s relevant to the series. You’d have character names and descriptions and a timeline of events. Having something like this is especially helpful to make your editor’s job easy when you are handing in book four or five and can’t remember if the hero’s dog was named Champ or Scamp.

USA Today bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt, writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances.  Her steamy, romantic comedy, Life’s a Beach, reached #65 on USA Today, #2 on Barnes & Noble and #9 on Amazon and iBooks.  Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists. The first book in the series, Heat, put her on the USA Today bestseller list for the first time, and is a #1 Amazon bestseller.  Her book Stud is a 2018 Romance Writers of America Rita® Finalist in Erotica. Her dragon paranormal romance series has been called “fun and quirky” and “endearing.” Partnered with New York Times bestselling author and actress, Jenna Jameson, Jamie’s hardcover debut, SPICE, continues Jenna’s FATE trilogy.


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1000 N. West Street #1200, Wilmington, DE 19801


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