A writer’s notebook gives you a place to live like a writer, not just in school during writing time but wherever you are, at any time of day.

Ralph Fletcher, A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You. Harper Collins (1996).

The idea behind a writer’s notebook comes from the lives of professional writers who often keep notepads close at hand to record ideas, words, thoughts... as they come to mind. It is an essential tool for the writer.

Catherine Goodwin, author of the young adult novel Seeking Shelter always keeps a notebook beside her bed when she’s working on a story. “Be prepared,” she advises young writers. “The best ideas for a story often pop into your head in the middle of the night and they’re lost by morning if you don’t write them down."

Cycle Three teacher Susan Brisson has each student keep a writer’s notebook. She believes that if you want to teach students to write- you must be willing to write yourself. She shares her writing with her students; her struggles to find the words to fill a blank page; her successes when she finds just the right words to describe those small everyday moments. Susan inspires her young writers to look inside their own lives for the seeds that will make their writing come alive.

Teacher and writer Penny Kittle starts the school year with an immersion in notebook writing. Students write an autobiography in words and images to gather ideas for future writing topics. Students then highlight parts they want to develop in future writing pieces.

Download Ideas for Writer’s Notebook. Students can keep this in the front of their notebooks.

writers notebook.pdf


Penny Kittle offers information on the ways her students use their notebooks as a starting point for future writing. She includes information on the different writing prompts she uses with her students.

Ralph Fletcher has one of the best websites for information about keeping a writer’s notebook. Speaking directly to the young writer, he offers suggestions on how to use the notebook, ideas to jumpstart the imagination, thoughts about revision and more.

An excellent strategy to use with writer’s notebooks is the Quickwrite. Linda Reif’s book, The Quickwrite Handbook provides a definition of this strategy, the benefits of using quickwrites, examples and ideas for getting started.


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