Keeping a notebook 2007 – 2020

Do you keep a notebook? I’m not a diarist, never have been but keeping an ongoing list of ideas, projects, notes and doodles is a great idea. Below in rows left to right, top down, are my notebooks from 2008 onwards. Each has a story and they’re packed with ideas and thoughts at the time. The first blue book is the outlier – a notebook from a family holiday in (and this dates it) Yugoslavia, now Croatia. The next is a hide black book which was a leaving present from colleagues I worked with in a University PR department. Much like books, there’s a real feel and smell to a notebook and moments in time are trapped there and can take you right back – a coffee stain on the 0804 to Euston, a doodled skull and crossbones, a sketch of a conference speaker with wild hair. Perhaps it’s a poem you started but did not finish or a story idea.

I’m very fond of my notebooks and they can tell you a lot. Flick back through 12 years (or even a handful) and you’ll find recurring ideas (80s memoir, lone wolf novel about a boxing journeyman). I also record competition entries and magazine submissions. I can remember making notes sometimes from the scribble or sketch – in Brewsmiths café in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, in the crypt in St Paul’s, London, on the beach in Kinghorn, Fife, or by a stream near my home.


I have favourites, although I recycle and reuse all manner of freebies. I’m fond of the Kyffin Williams’ artwork which you can see above. They can be bought at Oriel Ynys Mon in Anglesey.

10 thoughts on “Keeping a notebook 2007 – 2020

  1. I was going to say I’ve never kept a notebook but then I glanced around my desk and guess what – a notebook – with notes! My niece gave me the notebook and wrote this inside the front cover: Family – like branches on a tree we may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one. Christmas 2015.
    I’ve added notes about books I want to read, books I’ve read and enjoyed, genealogy search resources, best purple shampoo’s (for my grey hair!) bookshops I want to visit and films I want to see. So I do keep a notebook – of sorts.
    Not as interesting as yours but very handy!

  2. I use notebooks for fiction ideas and character notes. I like the A4 size, with lined paper. When I am writing long serials, they are worth their weight in gold to me, as I am continually referencing the time line I write in them. I never took to using ‘electronic’ notes, as they didn’t feel right to me.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. I read Frank Skinner say he wrote stand-up notes on paper and typed everything else. There’s something about ink on paper that can help…I’m definitely an A5 guy though, Pete!

  3. I love a notebook – I have had years where I have been a meticulous journal writer and others where I haven’t filled in as many pages. The years that are full of writing have always been difficult ones but they have helped my writing and poetry enormously

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