The Writer’s Notebook
Pablo Picasso once said ‘When inspiration comes, I want it to find me working.’
This evocative phrase is one of my personal favourites. I can picture Picasso in his studio, seated in front of a canvass with his paintbrush poised, waiting for inspiration to strike. But the image doesn’t bare much relevance to the way I respond to my own creative urges.
Like many women I fit my art around working full-time and running a family of busy people. I am also involved with a couple of local charities and am completing my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester.
When inspiration comes it is likely to find me working at something else! By the time I’ve got to my computer, I’ve usually forgotten the wonderfully clever phrase that popped into my head during the school run, or it’s been diluted into something that doesn’t look or sound right.
The answer to this frustrating dilemma has been to carry a notebook so that, whatever I’m doing, I can jot it down and come back to it at a more convenient time. In fact, if there is one piece of practical advice that I could give any budding writer, it’s to get yourself a notebook.
Spend time finding a notebook that works for you. Over the years I’ve wasted pounds and pounds on notebooks that never quite worked. If they were too pretty I didn’t want to sully their pages with my scribbling, but if they were too plain they didn’t inspire my creativity! Then, one Christmas, someone bought me a Moleskine® notebook, and my writing life was transformed. Their covers are soft and tactile and the cream paper is practical without being utilitarian. For me, they’re the perfect writer’s accessory – small enough to fit into my handbag (or my waterproof if I’m out walking), but big enough so that my writing isn’t cramped. What was good enough for Hemingway is good enough for me!
Don’t be precious about what goes into your notebooks. It’s the inspiration you’re after – those snatches of conversation overheard in the pub; the phrase that pops into your head as you’re drifting off to sleep; the snippet of poetry glimpsed on the tube. Collect these bits and pieces like a pirate collecting treasure, store them away, but do come back to them. What isn’t right for you now, might be transformed into something beautiful in the future.
My notebooks are filled with all sorts of nonsense! Quotes from writers I admire sit alongside writing exercises, and poems and paragraphs that I’m working on. Much of each notebook contains my personal wrestle with my writing. It’s as if every story has to be excavated out of the depths of my being with my pen! Dotted throughout are slivers of inspiration – those ‘what if’ moments that I’ve had while walking the dog or relaxing in the bath.
Which brings me to another dilemma – when will someone invent a waterproof notebook and pen!