The Writer’s Notebook as a Tool for Generating Material

Carol Adinolfi

 

Think of the Writer’s Notebook as a place where you can collect all different types of writing.

 

Some examples:

• pieces of writing by writers who you admire and whose writing inspires you.

• dreams

• letters you will never send

• ideas

• hopes

• ticket stubs from movies, train-rides, etc.

• photographs

• sketches

• observations

• journal entries

 

The Writer’s Notebook is a kind of living reminder that your writing can take many forms. It is a kind of container where you can collect:

 

• fragments of writing of any size

• writing that may (or may not be) seeds, starting places, for larger pieces you can develop

 

The Writer’s Notebook Experiment #1: Moments/Memory Fragments

 

PART ONE:

o Put on some music that you love, preferably instrumental.

o Make a list of short memories, whatever comes to mind: joyous, difficult, recent (including yesterday!), or memories from a few years ago, or from many years ago.

o Short is the operative word: a moment, an afternoon, a breakfast, walking your dog, etc.

o Try not to think too hard, or on any one aspect of your life. Just see what comes to mind. Allow yourself to be surprised.

o Write without stopping, preferably longhand. Just short descriptions, a few words, for each memory.

 

PART TWO:

o Once you’ve collected some memories, anywhere from 5 or 6 or more, look over what you’ve got, and work on what we’ll call memory fragments.

o These fragments can be of any length: a few words, a sentence, a paragraph.

o The idea of this experiment is that down the line these may (or may not be) developed. o It’s best to aim here not to create a perfect piece of writing; you are simply collecting memories.

o The beauty of this exercise is that it allows you to linger on a single moment and bring it to life.

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THE S.J.R.J.I. WRITERS’ GROUP

Collaborative Call and Response Writing Experiment

 

Our aim in this experiment was to use a call and response as a way into generating some writing. This can be an energy-filled way to begin to look at revision and editing. By cutting the “call” sections of the call and response, we were able to think about non-essential and essential parts of the first draft, which was spoken. And to craft that spoken word into writing.

 

Draft I/Part I/Spoken

C: With my writing I would like to…

R: …bring attention to the issues that we’re working with...i think the biggest issue is that people don’t believe…It’s just too hard for people to believe...instead of “our story”...we should call this “our truths”

 

C: With my writing I would like to…

R: …express my desires and feelings about things that are important to me...such as coming to terms with my past...

 

C: With my writing I would like to…

R:…heal my wounded heart

 

C: With my writing I would like to…

R: …help my children to have an understanding of who i am and who i was and why i am the way i am

 

C: With my writing I would like to…

R:…help people not only envision but also feel what it was like to be at the orphanage

 

PART II/Spoken

 

C: With my writing I have already begun to…

R: …heal

 

C: With my writing I have already begun to…

R: …learn so much about myself

 

C: With my writing I have already begun to…

R: …realize how deep the damage is done

 

C: With my writing I have already begun to…

R:…understand who i am and accept my idiosyncrasies...

 

Draft II: Cutting Non-Essential Words, Bringing Out What is Essential

 

OUR WRITING

to bring attention to the issues that we’re working with

to express our desires and feelings about what’s important

to us to come to terms with the past to heal our wounded hearts

to give our children an understanding

of who we are and who we were

and why we are the way we are

to help people not only envision

but also feel

what it was like to be at the orphanage

 

BEGINNING

I have already begun to heal.

I have learned so much about myself.

I have realized how deep the damage is that has been done.

I have come to accept my idiosyncrasies.

I have come to understand who I am.