Keeping a notebook

for Writing Circles




A GOOD Copy of written work must have the following format:
  •  Writer's Notebook is a tool that authors use to help them organize their ideas and record their experimentation with writing. It is a safe place to practice and experiment with language. Authors use this place to write their favorite sayings and to simply write everything that occurs to them! And guess what? Doodles and drawings are also used by authors in their notebook. Some authors draw a map of the setting they want to create.
  •  You will keep this notebook in your portfolio's WRITE SPACE [where you also keep a divider for Quick Writes] and will use it during writing activities. At home you simply need to take lined paper not your whole portfolio home. When an idea for a story, essay, or poem strikes you, jot it down, so keep the paper and pen handy for this.
  •  Examples of things to record: You could keep a record of observations you made as you sat in the mall or any quirky things you noticed about people; you could record your thoughts and feelings of a peaceful hike. Don't forget the ordinary either, like watching a bird in a tree as you eat breakfast. Ask yourself what mischief could that bird get into? How about a favorite show? What was the unusual twist the author had in the plot? There are many observations and thoughts we have every day. Some of them are really unique! Write them down and save them for another day. Perhaps they'll become a story or poem. You will be assessed on your number and types of entries.
  • We begin with Writing Territories and continue writing from these as often as we can, keeping in mind the form of writing we choose to use.   
  • You may want to cut out and stick in interesting bits from newspapers and magazines, write down snippets of conversation you've heard while at the store shopping with your family- basically anything goes in the notebook. All these things can be a prompt for future writing.
  • Many authors use their writer's notebook to engage in free writing. Free writing enables authors to engage in the act of writing and allows thoughts and feelings to flow. Although they may not immediately use the free writing, they can go back to it for inspiration at another time.  What is free writing? Just pick up your pen/pencil and begin to write whatever pops into your mind. Just write and write for five minutes. You will be amazed at the ideas you can come up with for story writing.
  • Keep sheets of lined paper and a pen handy and record the date of each entry. In time, you will build up a treasury of ideas and experiences to use later. Like professional writers, you can pick things out, change them around, adapt them and polish them for publishing.

    A lot of these ideas came from a workshop I attended this summer ['05] at King's Edgehill in Windsor, N.S. Ralph Fletcher was a valuable teacher and I appreciated his knowledge. Ralph is a wonderful author who truly cares about young writers. He gives workshops all over the world on the skills a writer needs.       

     He is Inspirational!  "I have a special passion for nurturing young writers." Ralph Fletcher 



  • Expectations for Notebook Keeping

    • The more you write, the more comfortable you are and the more natural your writing becomes. You are required to keep a writer’s notebook during Reader's and Writer's Workshop, but also for the whole year. Below find details regarding the assignment.


      • You are to write at least three entries per week in this notebook
      • Some entries will be a sentence some will be a page- whatever strikes your fancy. Remember write, write, write! 
      • Date all entries with numbers like 09/13/10 [September 13, 2010]This shows me you are really getting the idea of the notebook's intent.
      • Your notebook paper should be in a place where you keep mementoes of your life both written and physical. It is a safe place to experiment with language. It is a place where you breathe your world. Make notes of the world around you. Here are some suggestions.

      What should you write in your notebook?


      • Use the writing territories above but don't limit your writing. Other things you could write:
      • the literature we’re reading in class, a class discussion , a book you’re reading on your own.
      • Something that happens to you during the day, at night, on the weekend..
      • This notebook should allow you to find your legs as a writer.
      • Write down what makes you happy, sad, frustrated, angry etc.
      • At least one entry per week needs to be in response to something you read at home and write your reaction to it.
      • Put down your deepest thoughts about the things going on around you.


    • I will evaluate your notebooks by number of entries, not necessarily the quality of entries. It must be all in one place in your portfolio though. I am looking for substance and experimentation. Let your writing run wild!! View the rubric here.




Writing Prompts

Quick Writes


For further details go here.