Where’s Your Notebook?

Where’s Your Notebook?

“Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea forever.” -Will Self

There are plenty of resources who will tell you to carry a notebook, but why should you do it? What will it help you with? What can you learn from it?

What Good Is A Notebook?

Notebooks can serve many purposes for writers of all genres. A poet can jot down lines and images they want to use in their next poem. A novelist can write down observations about the world around them that can lend realism to their next work. A memoirist can write about events as they unfold and capture details that will breathe life into their work. The possibilities are endless for all types of writers to use notebooks.

Why Is A Notebook Better Than No Notebook?

If you don’t carry a notebook, you probably fit into one of two camps.

  1. You don’t write down your ideas and hope you remember them whenever you’re somewhere you can record them.
  2. You write ideas down on loose pieces of paper, napkins, or other temporary methods of recording.

If you’re in the first camp, you probably find yourself sitting down to write your first draft, lost in a million thoughts that slipped away. What was it that you saw yesterday that struck you? How did she phrase the quote you wanted to write a poem about? What was it that you were so convinced would be a good idea to write about? If you have a notebook, you can record all of this.

If you’re close to the second, you probably find yourself surrounded by the clutter of these scraps of paper with no way to organize or keep track of them. With a notebook, you have all of your thoughts and ideas saved and in chronological order from when you wrote them.

What Can I Use As A Notebook?

Just about anything.

If you have to have paper to put a pen to, go find yourself a notebook at any local store. Notebooks range from incredibly expensive leather-bound tomes to small spiral notebooks you can get at stores for a dollar. Pick whatever is right for you.

One thing I like to do is if someone goes on a trip and asks me if I want them to bring me anything, I ask them to bring me a notebook. Then my notebook is something different from what I could buy locally and it will remind me of the special person who got me the book.

Some people like to use their phones as notebooks and that’s a great idea. There are a lot of apps, such as Evernote, which can record all of your thoughts as well as to-do lists and other tasks that might end up in your notebook. This cuts down on purse or pocket contents and also provides all of the benefits of notebooks.

More On Notebooks

Check this video for more information on notebooks and see the notebooks I use for my writing.


Editsaurus: Another Hemingway Editor?

Editsaurus: Another Hemingway Editor?

Editsaurus is a new writing tool that claims to highlight potential problems in your writing and encourage good writing habits. However, its usefulness is limited and ultimately, unless you are a beginning writer, its capabilities will not be that helpful to you.

This website functions much like the Hemingway Editor. You input your text or write directly into the box. Then it highlights potential problem areas. Which sounds useful. But when you examine the readout, it becomes less and less meaningful.

The tool highlights all uses of adverbs. Which, granted, too many is problem, but you can follow every rule of grammar and good writing and still use an occasional adverb.

It’s also rather worrisome how adverbs are being vilified by both this program and the Hemingway Editor. Not all adverbs are the enemy. Conversely, you can have writing completely free of adverbs and it can be still terrible. Avoiding every adverb in existence is not some magic formula for good writing. But when editors like this highlight every use, what message is it sending to writers?

The tool also highlights all uses of easily-confused words. Every use of the word “to” or “then” is highlighted because these words are often confused with “too” and “two” as well as “than”, respectively.

If a beginning writer struggles with the correct usage of these words, the highlight will be helpful. But someone who has a solid background in grammar will raise an eyebrow over how their piece has been marked up when their usage is correct.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the emotional reaction to this program. After years of spelling and grammar check from every piece of software that has it equipped, we are used to seeing anything highlighted as a problem that needs to be fixed. Seeing your writing come back so marked up can be anxiety inducing.

But when you examine why the marks are there, most of them aren’t problems that need correction. It’s just the inability of a computer to detect what is correct grammar and what is a mistake.

With the Hemingway Editor already in existence and the limitations of this tool, its ultimate practicality is questionable.