Friday, August 6, 2010

Wherever I Go

I am lost without a notebook and pen. First thing in the morning, almost every morning, I grab a cup of coffee, a purple pen, and a spiral notebook. Morning Pages are my confessional, my pep talk, my to-do list, my way of working out priorities and possibilities. They often contain more writing about writing than actual writing, but on a good day, those pages turn into creative work or at least lead up to it. In between projects, when I’m feeling my way through the dark to begin something new, I dump what I can on paper and try to move forward. That’s where I am right now, peering into the void, hoping for a spark. Actually, that’s what I’ve been doing for much of this summer, slogging away, trusting that sooner or later, something worth my while will come of the scribbling.

Sometimes I write poems and picture books in spiral notebooks, too, and sometimes on loose leaf paper or legal pads. When an idea is burning in my brain, I grab whatever paper is closest and write as quickly as I can, from the beginning to as far as I can go. The next day, I start at the beginning again and write as far as I can, usually at least a little farther.

I carry a pocket notebook everywhere I go, whether I’m walking the dog, working in the yard or the kitchen, riding a bike, or even paddling a canoe. In those little notebooks, I might jot down one word, scribble an inspired thought, or tear through page after page. I also keep paper and pens next to my bed for the ideas that pop up in the middle of the night. I turn on a book light so I can decipher my writing in the morning.

Esther’s post reminded me of another journal I keep and really ought to update one of these days. It’s a Word file I call my Sent Mail Journal. In it, I paste copies of important e-mails I’ve written and sent, and then I delete them from my e-mail folder. For me, it’s an easy way to keep track of events and thoughts without having to write about them again.

From time to time, I pull out an old notebook and pore over the pages. Sometimes I see topics I’ve circled around for years. Sometimes an old idea fits perfectly with a new one. Sometimes I find things I don’t remember writing. I’m due for that project now: the notebooks are piling up, and I could use some fresh old ideas!

JoAnn Early Macken

P.S. Look for me today at Concordia University Wisconsin's Early Childhood Literacy Festival on the Lake!


Carmela Martino said...

JoAnn, I love all the photos of your journals on the go. :-)

Catherine Stine said...

Nice post! I was just sitting out in my garden and had a brainstorm of ideas. Wish I'd had a notebook--I've already forgotten some!
Another cool thing is to listen to people's dialog, say in Starbucks or on the subway, and jot some of it down. Good to catalog "real" talk when you are creating a certain character's voice later.