Monday, March 23, 2020

SLICE #23- Confessions of a crappy notebook keeper

Can I just admit this?

I am a crappy notebook keeper. As in, considering I am a writing teacher, and that I learned from experts like Don Graves, Ralph Fletcher, Jane Hansen, and Linda Rief, I totally should be much better at this than I am.

Don't get me wrong, I've kept notebooks of some kind or other, off and on, since I was in junior high. I still have many of the notebooks I kept in high school and college, piled on a shelf in my closet.

I have a favorite type of notebook-- spiral bound, heavy cardboard or plastic cover. I like them 3/4 size, not full 8"X11", probably because they are easier to carry around. And lined, because I can't write straight without lines, and I don't like when my words go downhill.

I almost always have several different notebooks going- sometimes intentionally for different purposes, or sometimes just because I misplaced one, and started another one, then found the other one.

But these days, I am seriously doubting my notebooking expertise.

It's been going on for a while actually. I want to be more consistent with the keeping of notebooks. I even signed up for a Facebook Group, 100 Days of Notebooking. I only lasted 25 days. Mostly, I think, because people were so creative, and so artistic. And the things that they produced were so beautiful. And my notebook was so uncreative and unartistic and un-beautiful, that I felt embarrassed sharing it. So I quit. I still belong to the group. And I still admire people's gorgeous notebooks. But I don't post on that page myself.

I've been watching several people talk about notebooking while I have been home for the last week. Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher are doing an amazing thirty minutes of PD every day. Today, they talked specifically about their notebooks. And Kelly has this really incredible record of life during the Corona Virus. Penny started out planning to draw a fish last weekend and ended up with this incredible collage. You should totally go to You Tube and watch their Day #6 presentation. And Ralph Fletcher is also doing a really cool series on notebooking. And one day, when I get my schedule down better, I really want to watch Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's series on notebooks, because I've heard that it's terrific.

I really, really, really want to be a person who has a beautiful notebook. I dream of having a notebook like Paula Borque, or Penny Kittle, or Linda Rief. You know, one of those that is beautifully lettered, has lovely and creative collage illustrations, and is deeply profound besides.

I think about it a lot.

I've been trying to learn to Sketchnote for two years. I've bought several books. I follow (ok, actually stalk) a bunch of people who do it on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes I practice it. But not nearly enough. And so I'm still not very good at all.

I like art. I like to draw. I like collage. Today Penny Kittle recommended a book called SKETCH. And said that the woman who wrote the book doesn't see herself as a natural artist, but she practices art for ten minutes every day. And because she practices, she has gotten better. I'm going to order that book.

But I really don't quite know about those fancy notebooks.

When I write in my notebook, it's usually quick and dirty. Just stuff I want to think through or process or remember. I don't usually take the time to make it pretty. Most of the time, I'm lucky if it's even legible.

And yes, there is also the typing thing I need to acknowledge. These days, I much prefer typing to writing. There are a lot of days when I don't write in a notebook, but I do write something on the computer. I tried several of Ralph's notebooking ideas, but I didn't do them in a notebook, I did them on my computer. Typing is a lot faster for me than writing by hand. And I don't get the balance thing as to when I should be writing in a notebook and when I should be typing on the computer.

I'm thinking a lot about notebooks right now....


Pam Ela said...

I am in the group too...

I posted a lot at first, and I still love it, but I shifted my attention to slicing, and my notebook entries are generally slice rough drafts. I didn’t want to overkill and overlap, so it’s been a bit since anything of mine showed up there.

You’re right- there are wonderfully creative people there with talent for visual display that I just don’t have. I had sketch note envy a few years ago, particularly when my son took amazing notes during a sermon at church camp, and then I decided to be okay with that not being my jam.

If I want to just play with the way the words fall together on the page without worrying about how aesthetically appealing they are, it’s okay. If others want that to be the focus, that’s okay too. I learn from taking notes. I take notes throughout life. It’s how I process and how I remember.

There is not a right way or a wrong way to notebook. (I had to teach myself that too, as I found myself being a little judgy about sparse entries.)

You do you. No one else can. You get to define what’s okay for you- what’s comfortable and what’s right. If your notebooks are just pages of lists or lots and lots of words written in plain black ink- it’s all good!

Jean said...

I agree with Pam!

Elisabeth Ellington said...

My notebooks look nothing like Penny's or Paula's or Linda's either. I love what they do and wish I could notebook more like that, but it's not me. Not right now anyway. My notebooks are just a giant chaotic mess of writing--lots of lists right now, notes, and ideas for writing that I haven't done. Sometimes I write daily or almost daily for months at a time; other times the notebook sits dormant for weeks. I haven't watched Day 6 yet--can't wait to!

Ramona said...

Oh, Carol, I'm a crappy notebook keeper too. I do most of my writing on my blog and live in constant fear of how I'd feel if it disappeared. (Does anyone know of a good platform or way to move our blogs to another format without copying and pasting by hand?) And now I want to watch all the videos you mentioned and I haven't started Amy's either! I think I'm in information overload! And I'm definitely sleep deprived since my new normal is waking up at 3 to write.