Teachers Write! Time for focus, choosing a notebook & creating an important sentence

Time for focus...

Time for focus…

Teachers Write! officially kicked off with a bang today – the buzz really got going last week, though, and I am so excited – I put all the different activities for each day of the week in my calendar. I was gone sailing for three days, so missed the first of the Friday Feedback sessions with Gae Polisner. Sailing was a GREAT idea, , so I’m definitely not complaining. I read lots of content and comment on my return, and am already feeling jazzed to participate as regularly as I can. Gae’s comments really helped me to shape my book’s tone and to clean house in my work last year, though she probably doesn’t know that.

Today, on the first official day of our Teachers Write! Camp experience, I started on my first two assignments.

The first is from Kate Messner, who is, as you’ll find if  you read above, the driving force behind this camp. Here is our  first assignment. Your assignment is to read this first assignment. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to follow the directions and grab your own notebook!

I love the comments here – the struggles shared, like starting but not continuing to write in a notebook, the balance between tech and pen & paper notebooks, the challenge and delight of searching through old notebooks to find inspirations jotted down in times past.

I own all of these – struggles and celebrations alike. In the past few years of writing this story of mine, I have come to a way of working in notebooks and on the computer which pleases me and is, most importantly, proving to be sustainable and useful to my making progress in the process. I used to think a different notebook for each thing would be my way. I’ve boiled it down to two types now. I think. Most of the time.



Here’s a stack of the notebooks I’ve been using. I’m jazzed that I am about to start my 4th notebook exclusively for my work in progress. I have one that’s dedicated to this, and one that’s filled with all the other stuff – book reviews and other blog posts, techie librarian stuff, notes from meetings, lists of must-read books, and designs for boat projects – see? Everything…

So how do I find stuff? I devised a sort of table of contents process that works for me. Because the notebook is plain on the front (and not glossy or fancy, which would make me not want to to do this) I make a sort of bulleted list of the contents as I go.

Table o' contents cover

Table o’ contents cover

Then, I get a little doodle time inside because I make a label in the margin like this:

Doodly section titles match the Table o'Contents titles

Doodly section titles match the Table o’Contents titles

It feels doodly because I write it in block letters and then trace over the title several times so that it becomes a bold, deliberate heading of sorts. My mind can wander as I trace and retrace and think about the meaning of the heading. I can easily refer back to the list and find related content with these headings. In the mixed notebook, which is the same style, I just make a general list of stuff that might be in it – so diverse I couldn’t possibly keep a running, ordered list the same way – and then if there is something I must find easily, I use a colored tape tab to mark a section. What I love lots is that my particular favorite cheap pen closes easily inside this particular favorite type of composition book without breaking the spine, so I am always ready to jot and enjoy. Woe will be the day when either the journal or the pen is not available. I am now set in my ways!

There are a couple of pretty journals in my stack, which I do use. I had a very stern talk with my Self, and we agreed that I would write in them BECAUSE they are too pretty, make them my friends and spend time with them, getting to know their feel and heft and usefulness in different ways. My pleasure in them, and their inherent beauty, is much greater when they become dog-eared and tea-stained than if they sit empty and worshiped lonesome on the shelf.

In another post, I’ll talk about my process with electronic tools and how I use the notebooks together with Scrivener, Dropbox and my different devices. Enough about capturing the thoughts for today,though – I have to get on to the next assignment.

Visit Jo Knowles’ site for today’s Monday Morning Warmup. Here’s my one-sentence response to today’s prompt:

My story is important because my main character’s history is a story of courage and individuality lived in a time when society had very specific and limited ideas about women in the world.

I still have to work on this as a statement of why my story is important, though it’s close! It’s only recently, though she first inspired me many years ago, that I realized for myself why the story of this woman has been wanting to be told for so long.

About vst3in

I am a writer, avid reader, library techie, birder and runner. I make felt and teach others. I love colors and textures and birds and books. I'm working on a historical novel and reading lots of books for young people. I am running to get stronger, and I sail with my husband. This blog contains thoughts about all these things.
This entry was posted in collaboration, inspirations, reading, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Teachers Write! Time for focus, choosing a notebook & creating an important sentence

  1. amyrasmussen says:

    I love your post. Great mix of content and reflection. I’ve yet to get my Teachers Write assignments done today–I am reading others’ work instead. They say that great writers are readers first. I might just be procrastinating. Not good for the first day.

    • vst3in says:

      Thank you for reading, and for your kind comment ! I was so ready to write. I started out reading everything this morning and resolved to get down to it instead. No way I can keep up with all the great comments but I’ll try to strike a balance for myself… I DID stop to read a picture book for #bookaday, though.

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