The Writer’s Notebook
A Writer’s Notebook is a record of the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and observations.
There are many reasons to keep a Writer’s Notebook. It can be a place to record your thoughts, feelings, and observations to share with others. As a record of experiences, your notebook can be a helpful source of ideas for other kinds of writing. You should practice writing a notebook to share with your teacher and classmates. (If you want to write about private thoughts and experiences, consider keeping a private notebook at home—one that only you will read.)
Each time you write in your notebook, you write an entry. Entries may be only a few lines long, or they may be entire stories, writing exercises, or anything else you wish to write.
Using Sensory Details
Becoming a good observer and learning how to record your observations are important for notebook writing. As you experience the physical world, your body takes in information through the senses, and you respond to sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells. Later, as you write in your notebook, use specific words, as Barbara Brenner did, to re-create what you experienced through your senses.
Sensory details re-create sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures for the reader.
Writing About Feelings
If you keep a private notebook, you may write about feelings that you do not want to share. When you keep a Writer’s Notebook to share with others, you can still write about less private feelings.
A good writer helps readers share feelings.
Writing About Feelings
Nina Kosterina, a Russian girl, kept a notebook in which she wrote about her experiences as a teenager and young adult in Russia during the 1930s and 1940s. From her notebook, readers learn what it was like to grow up in Communist Russia, and they get a valuable insight into the inner life of a young girl. In the entry, written when she was fifteen, the writer describes a feeling she experienced during a summer at camp. As you read, look for specific details used to set the scene. (Kutlya and Krutitsa are two Russian place names mentioned in the entry.)
September 3, 1941
It is hard to say what is more beautiful: the tall, slender pines in the pensively severe woods or the gay birches, festive as a ring of peasant girls. I am closer in spirit to the sullen pine woods. One place in my woods, my domain, is especially deeply etched in my memory.
It is on the way to Kutlya, beyond the ravine near Krutitsa. There the pine forest spreads a little, letting a narrow road run through the gap. When I discovered the spot, it struck me with its beauty.
I came out upon the road and stopped, with a sudden ache in my heart. I was so moved that I burst into tears, and those tears were both bitter and sweet. It was a difficult time for me, but I cried myself out in the woods, in the shadow of the stern, listening pines, and felt the better for it. I was calmed by the majestic beauty of the woods. They seemed to whisper to me wise words about how good life is. Ah, how good it is to live! “Even in your pain and sorrows there is the joy of living! Don’t cry, little human!” I looked up with gratitude. The crowns of the pines swayed lightly, and the road I ran on and on, and no one was around.