J is for Journals and notebooks

Sometimes it is hard to find inspiration to write a story or know how to tackle a particular scene, which is where journals and notebooks come into play. Every writer should have (at least) one. It doesn’t need to be a paper notebook, you might like to capture your thoughts on your phone’s camera or notepad function, or in a blog of your own, perhaps even Pinterest if images are part of your creative process.

Your writer’s notebook(s) comes in many forms. Whichever yours takes, it will be a continual work-in-progress – a one-stop resource to aid your creativity. Overheard an interesting conversation (or pattern of language) on the bus? Jot it down. Inspired to write a space opera after seeing an advert about vacuum-packed ketchup? Scribble it down. Found an interesting letter or article in the newspaper? Cut it out and stick in your book.

Other methods of adding to your notebook might come in the form of freewriting (allowing your mind free reign as you write – as quickly as you can – your thoughts for a set period of time), or perhaps a quick flash fiction in response to a prompt. For the poets among you, a Haiku might be sufficient to capture a moment.

There is, of course, the more traditional method of journaling. You might wish to keep a daily record of events: feelings, thoughts, emotions, observations, analysis etc.

Visual Inspiration/Journalling

Most of us carry phones or tablets around, snapping ‘moments’ and ‘inspirations’, uploading to Instagram, or sharing images of interest on Pinterest, and all of this combined can play a huge role in the upkeep of your writer’s ‘notebook’. If you get stuck on a scene, or where to go next, or how to start a book, a quick flick through your photo album might throw out an idea to get you started.

Madeline Dyer, author of the Untamed series, uses Pinterest to create inspiration storyboards:

(Image shared with the author’s permission)

And here’s a blurb from the first book (Untamed). Even if you’ve not read this series yet, I think you might be able to see how some of these images have inspired the story.

In a world where addiction is encouraged, one girl must fight to stay clean…

As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides–because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being.

But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate.


While on the subject of images, another form of inspiration is illustrations. It might be that you can visualise a scene, person or a bit of tech but are struggling to find the right words (or maybe you just want to remember it for later). Even the rawest of sketches can inspire an author and/or relieve the dreaded writer’s block.

Madeline Dyer has very kindly allowed me to share a couple of her sketches, and if you are interested in reading more about the way she uses images to inspire and create, please do visit her website.

And on a final note…

If you have a method (or madness) to keeping a writer’s journal, you are more than welcome to share your ideas and inspirations here. Hopefully, you aren’t like me and find yourself unable to write in the pretty notebooks you’ve bought for fear of ‘spoiling’ them, and so end up using the bog-standard ones from the supermarket that don’t cost a small fortune (while the others collect dust in the bookshelf).

For anyone wishing to follow me on Pinterest, you can find me here (and yes, I have a board featuring some fantastic, decorated notebooks):