Scribbles are Meant for Notebooks

I was reading another chapter of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and she mentioned index cards and having one always on hand with her. I still think this is crazy, but I look at when this book was published and it all makes sense. Hitting 2014 everyone knows that technology is moving forward. It’s moving faster than we can comprehend but I still have a notebook with me. And a full paper diary.

I plan never to change. Well hopefully.

Everyone is out celebrating Valentine’s Day and buying flowers for their loved ones (or one of my high school buddies is trying to get a lemon out of her fiancé, I totally LOVE her thinking, good on you Myri!) What I’m going to do? I’m going out to buy myself another notebook. This time I’m going to make it a gratitude notebook, but this is getting off topic again (I’m so bad at this!)

Back to Lamott.

She has index cards everywhere, they live in her back pocket when she takes her dog for a walk; in her purse, in her wallet, hell even in her bra, I’m sure of it. That got me thinking. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I was given was from one of my uni lecturers was that if you wanted to be a serious writer you’ll carry a notebook with you at all times. A couple of days I went out to buy one and purple pens became my staple (I LOVE coloured pens!) That notion still stays with me, even when I went out to clubs, I managed to find a small notebooks that filled my clutches. I still have them, but I’ve also found delight in tablets and having an iPhone. It goes with me always and I love having evernote around so I can write up my notes and grab them off my laptop later when I get home. I have written at weddings (my mother will attest to this, she even had the audacity to call me rude! haha), funerals, church services, wedding services, between shifts, on the bus, even in the women’s room (it was much quieter okay!) I have done it all. I love being able to do this.

A lot of people don’t understand why you need one, but it’s common sense really.

If you want to be a writer you want to observe everything that is going around you. Be a watcher. Make up stories about random strangers and make them fit on paper in a way that is unique. Take down snippets of conversations that are relevant (these include weird as conversations, I should have taken down the very teenage like conversation I overheard in Bendigo with my friends. The people the words belonged to weren’t even teenagers!) Explore these. You may use them, you may not, but just imagine if you didn’t listen: how would you have gotten that piece of dialogue just right?

Think about that.

So this is my challenge to you. Take a notebook with you today, sit in a busy cafe, take out those ear buds and stop listening to the music. Order a coffee and write. Write about the scents, the smells, the conversations. Check back and leave me a comment with a snippet of what you wrote. I’ll update later and do the same on the bus. You need these things your life. It’s great practice. Use it.

Mandi is a writer, reader, dreamer and is breaking procrastinating inner editors, one at a time.


  • Mandi

    My snippet involved a cute little girl while I was in the line at Officeworks:
    ‘Let Granny show you where it goes.’
    ‘No.’ The toddler restored.
    ‘Give it to Granny.’
    ‘No.’ The toddler said as she cut off her mother.
    ‘She’ll let you know where it goes.’
    ‘No.’ And again.

    She was the cutest thing ever but had a little meltdown. Where’s yours guys?

  • lyndabennett

    Great point Mandi about taking out the earphones and observing the world around you. Bird by Bird has been one of my inspiration books. Must admit that I tend to use my iPhone for instant notes.

    • Mandi

      Ahh it’s so amazing isn’t it? I finally am sitting down to read it (granted slowly because I have so much other things to do) but it’s just, every chapter is like YES! THAT! Ahhh! Share a snippet of a convo from your day Lynda! Or something that you took down 😀

      • lyndabennett

        My friend told me about a gift she gave her new step-grandchildren. I thought it was lovely. This morning I have outlined a children’s story based on her gift. I awoke with it in my head, so hastily put it on the iphone. Irang her to tell her about the story, and as I was reading my notes, the story expanded itself – more hasty typing. She loves it!

        • Mandi

          Ahhh that is beautiful. I love when stories come from such organic places like that! I wish I loved short stories more. I need to try and get back on their bandwagon. I have so many half finished ones from back in the day. I need to revisit them!

  • Av

    Okay lovely. I sat down and wrote in my notebook and further reinforced my mind is strange:

    “‘I want to die in a field of flowers,’ said Jasmine, holding the warm tea cup between her hands. Steam rose from the rim, forming condensation on her glasses, as she took a sip from it. Her lips pressed and surrounded a small fraction of the rim — two soft petals of pure, delicate rose.

    It was a Thursday afternoon and they were seated on the front porch of their country home. Before them, stretching for miles upon miles, was plains of dry grass that cattle and sheep ate absently at in the distance. Her mother was seated on the old wicker chair next to her, staring thoughtfully at the knitting in her hands.

    ‘Why would you ever want to do that dear?’ asked her mother, hooking another stitch onto the needle. ‘It wouldn’t lessen the experience of dying anymore.’

    The needles made a clink as they hit one another. Jasmine pursed her lips. Mother did have a point, she thought begrudgingly, pain was pain and not even a beautiful environment could distract from that, but it was a nice notion, wasn’t it? To die in a field of flowers? But the more Jasmine thought about, she realised that maybe it wasn’t a nice notion after all and the thought unsettled her.

    ‘Where would you die then Mother?’ asked Jasmine, distracting herself from her thoughts. It really was utterly improper to think so strenuously over a cup of tea in the afternoon, and very unladylike, added her mind.

    Her mother smiled and stopped knitting for a moment. She cast her blue eyes out upon the farm before them, drifting her gaze over the barn where Papa often worked, the milk shed and the chicken barn, before settling pensively on the plains outwards. She took a moment to reply.

    ‘I would die with your father, on this porch, so we could remember all that we made and had while holding hands and watching the world pass us by,’ Mother paused. ‘That would be nice,’ she finished and returned to her knitting.

    Silence enveloped the pair comfortably as a kookaburra cackled in the distance.

    ‘Yes,’ murmured Jasmine. ‘That would be nice.’

    And Jasmine smiled into her teacup and that conversation was no more.”

    • Mandi

      Ahh this is beautiful. I love it. I love your my mind. I can totally picture Jasmine’s mother and father dying together so vividly. Thanks for sharing Av! <3

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