Characters · Plots · Research · WIP Wednesday

A Peek in a Notebook

Monet’s living notebook

Years ago when I first left school I went to Art College instead of taking A levels we had just moved towns and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  In hindsight it was wrong but there was one experience which made the failure worth the lost years.  That was the college trip to Paris. As a city I hated it wander off the tourist paths and you found dirty grubby streets, we even had our own adventure walking through the red light district trying to get back to the youth hostel from one gallery but that is a story for another day.

My best memory of that trip was a little obscure looking gallery filled with the most amazing treasures…Monet’s paintings.  I was fascinated by Monet for two reasons.  First of course were his wonderful paintings, I loved Impressionists but especially Monet.  To stand before the sheer magnitude of his canvas’ to see each individual brush stroke up close was breath-taking.  For me I think it was the first time I truly understood the meaning of the word genius.  But it is the second reason that is the focus of this post.  It is the fact he created and grew and entire garden just so he could paint it.  He planned the views, the colours, the layout all so he could paint his visions.  And in a lesser way this is how I view my note books.  They are my garden starting out as ideas, seedlings planted some to grow to maturity some plucked away.  I thought it might be fun to share a few picture of the note-book I use for my novel.

These are early pages after all I don’t want to give too much away lol.  I started off with collections of images…no thats not true. I started off with the idea I had idea’s about how certain characters would look and act and I searched out images which fit what I envisioned.   I scrawled on around and even over certain images taking notes of the parts that fit with what I wanted, asking myself questions, working out what research I needed to do to find the answers I needed.

I saw those early scribbles as the first tentative brushstrokes or the skimming of charcoal on paper providing an outline for what I wanted to create.

As you can see these early pages become more and more filled with my looping scrawl as more thoughts come to me.  You will also see I love to doodle on the pages as I think.  It has been a long time since I took the time to practise my drawing skills maybe in time if I put in a little more effort as I doodle they will be worth looking at once more.  You can also see on these first pages the skeleton for the novels structure just a quick note in chapter form of the novels timeline.  It held it most of the way with obviously more details and a few changes in later versions.

I did lose track of myself on the occasional page where my terrible scribbling become too confusing to read myself later but as the note-book was only ever meant for me to see I did not think it neccessary to worry about nice neat flowing handwriting but as the book continues as the note-book begins to contain facts and ideas for actual use then it does get better.  no point having a great line if you can’t read what it was.

Someone else made a comment to me that one day if I ever got published people would want to see my note-books and I laughed.  Maybe if that day ever came it might be wise for me to destroy them and pretend they never existed rather than disappoint with my terrible drawings and appalling writing but I don’t think I could ever do that.  Disorganised as they are this is how my ideas have grown, the pages where my characters were born and took their first breaths I don’t think I would ever want to part with them.

I didn’t want to carry on further into the note book afterall pages of text are no where near as amusing as scribbled pictures and random notes but I hope you enjoyed a little peek into how my mind works. Maybe in writing this I have learnt a lesson myself not just about realising myself how I work but also that spending a few extra minutes when writing in my note-books would not only ensure I can read my own writing but one day might make me feel more comfortable about sharing more from them.

Do you use a note-book or are you a straight to computer writer?  If you do what is scribbled in the margins of yours?

17 thoughts on “A Peek in a Notebook

  1. I don’t use a notebook myself. I’m not structured enough to ever look at it again after I write it in. I know this from all the notes I took in classes that I never bothered to look at again once the lecture was over. I could write everything down in a notebook, but for me that’s a wasted step. I usually just add my ideas into my first draft as I go and fix anything that doesn’t fit on the second run through.


  2. I need both: notebooks AND computer. I have a few notebooks that I keep handy (for when I’m “letting” my husband use our main computer.) But I have a laptop that I ONLY use for writing – no internet, no games, etc. My flash drive is my savior: I save all my latest drafts and then lock in our fire-proof safe. I backup my backups with backups. 😉 (Paranoid much?)
    You certainly doodle in your notebooks far more than I do. lol
    Thanks for sharing!


  3. My beard is not as good as the one Celdwaldy Llyn has though.
    I was never very good at art, have done some pen and ink landscapes in the past but chucked them.
    I like a lot of different artists, depends on my mood, Pieter Bruegel, Turner, Canelletto and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and more.


  4. I use notebooks. Mostly because I get ideas as I’m waking up in the morning, while I’m cooking dinner or driving (and have to pull over) its just easier to jot them down in a notebook than run to a computer. If I don’t write them down immediately…they’re gone!


  5. Great stuff, Paula! Don’t be ashamed of what you’ve created. I have a notebook that a friend bought me and it is filled with doodles and story ideas and randomness. I litter the place with scraps of paper with my ideas on them. I usually write on my hand and then have to transfer it elsewhere! It was great to be able to see your ideas down on paper here, loved the butterfly! A really nice post! 🙂


    1. I am in the process of sorting out all my notebooks, infact it is an excuse to go buy some new ones to sort the ideas from the old ones into hehehehe I am desperately trying to make things easier for myself by being more organised it is just turning out to be quite time consuming sorting out the chaos I have already created but it will be worth it when it is done..or thats what i am telling myself 🙂


  6. I stopped the notebook thing after I got a laptop. I do have shoeboxes full of notes from when I first started writing as well as drawings and the like. I studied art too so we have something else in common besides just writing 😉


  7. Those journal pages are just wonderful! 🙂

    I don’t know where I’d be without a journal. There is something magical about scribbling with a pen or pencil. And sometimes a surprise scribble or unintended mess can lead to beautiful things. 🙂


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