Friday, August 06, 2010

Guest Blogger: Natalie Anderson

My fellow Modern Heat author makes an appearance on the Playground today...hopefully, bringing some cooler temps from down under with her. Please welcome the fabulous Natalie Anderson!!

The Not-so-simple Necessary Notebook.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all writers love stationery – and can spend hours (and dollars!) in those gorgeous stores. After all, almost any writer’s guide will tell you to keep a notebook on hand so you can scribble when inspiration hits!

Ah yes, notebooks. I have so many notebooks. It truly was an addiction for a while. I’d hit those sales at the start of the school year – rush in and buy a zillion little notebooks for five cents and a ton more exercise books. This was despite the fact that I hadn’t used up all of the previous years stockpile. I just couldn’t resist.

I’d have an exercise book or notebook for each story I was working on (which can be up to four or five at least in the planning stages), plus a notebook for recording dreams, one as a journal, one as a goals/to do list, one for ideas… another for other ideas…

The trouble was I wouldn’t have the right on me at the ‘write’ time – so I’d scribble notes relating to one book in that back of the notebook for another. I’d see something in the street and get an idea and scribble that in the middle of whatever notebook I could get my hands on. Dialogue in the middle of another. Random names I like in a page somewhere else. A thousand notebooks for a million ideas. Of course, do you think I could then find what it was I’d written when I wanted to?

Of course not. It became ridiculous. And frustrating.

So I decided to pare back completely – to one. That’s right, ONE notebook. It’s pretty (pink) – I figure if I’m only getting one, then I get to get a posh one, right? It’s a small enough size to fit in my handbag and to be able to fit a decent amount of words on each page, but it’s not too big to be too heavy or awkward. And in it I write everything – my journal elements, plans for the day/week, notes from non-fiction I’ve been reading, dialogue snippets from the wip plus character analysis etc. I’ve also been starting from the back page – a page with random words I like, another page with character names I like, occupations, settings, other random ideas. But all in the one book. So now I only have to flip through and find what I’m after. If it’s dialogue for the wip I just put a line through it once I’ve keyed it in – so I can still read it, but I know I’ve used it…

And so far, so good. It’s really working for me and I’m doing more analysis on my stories as well as more journaling – which hopefully helps my writing in general.

For a while I was going to be terribly sophisticated and use different colours for different entries (eg blue for the current wip, red for dreams, green for new ideas)… but of course that’s completely impractical…

But you know there’s still that stationery hunger to fill… I walk past those shops and feel them calling to me.

Naturally, I have a plan… I read an article about ‘de-plasticifying your life’ – things like using a Sigg instead of plastic water bottles etc. One of the tips was to use a refillable ink pen rather than using and discarding biros all the time – that way you’ll leave less of a plastic legacy. Nice idea, huh? Only trouble is I’m left handed and my writing is messy enough without leaving ink smudges all over the paper. But the thought of a ‘proper pen’ to go with my posh notebook, is so romantic…

So I’ve been browsing the lovely pen market… oh okay, it just gives me a lot of excuses to look at this lovely Johnny Depp ad… Montblanc anyone???

So is your house littered with notebooks and pens or do you keep all your notes online? Are you totally organised and have files for ideas? Or perhaps you do the dialogue on the back of receipts thing too? Let me know in the comments below and be in the draw to win a signed copy of your choice of my current releases:

Out this month in the US is To Love, Honor & Disobey, in the UK you can get Unbuttoned by her Maverick Boss, while in Australia/New Zealand get Caught on Camera with the CEO.

To find out more about Natalie’s books, visit her website.

PS. Yesterday's winners are Linda and Page. Email Instigator at with your information to claim your prize. Also, don't forget to check back in next Friday for Free Book Friday (Conference Edition).


Playground Monitor said...

I've had to curb my obsession with notebooks. I love brightly colored ones or soft leather ones. I prefer ones with lines pages. But I already have enough and it took every ounce of willpower to walk past the table of journals on sale at the book store.

I'm a pen freak too. But I'm picky. It must feel right in my hand and it must be a retractable pen, not one with a removable cap. I discovered a Pentel EnerGel liquid gel ink pen with a needle tip. LOVE IT! It's hard to find the refills though so I've compromised with the same pen in a .7 mm ball. It just writes so smoothly and the words seem to flow from brain to page so much better with these pens.

But that didn't stop me from coming home with a few new pens from the goody room at conference.

It's so nice to meet another journal and pen junkie, Natalie. And so nice to have you at the Playground today. :-)

Jane said...

My house is not littered with notebooks, but I still write things down on a few stationery products, mostly sticky notes and whatever is lying around.

Cheryl said...

I love pens too! I am constantly scouring the stores for the perfect one that isn't scratchy and fits my hand. I usually write on yellow legal pads, not many notebooks around here. Guess it's a hold-over from my working days.

Linda Henderson said...

Walmart had their notebooks on sale for school a couple of weeks ago and I bought 20 of them, plus notebook paper. But yet, I find myself writing on envelopes and register receipts from my purse all the time. Then I can't find them. I have an eye doctor appointment on the 20th and scribbled it on an envelope and it's gone, so now I have to call back to check the time. Sometimes I'm so un-organized.

Angel said...

I can so totally relate!!!! I love notebooks, pens, paper, stationary... actually, pretty much any office supply. I have the same problem of meaning to use different notebooks for different things, but it never quite works out that way. I'll have to take on your idea.

I'm also a plotter, so with each book I go to the local office supply store and purchase a pretty 3 ring binder and tab dividers where I can store character descriptions, synopsis, and plotting charts. Okay, so in truth I'm addicted to Office Max... I admit it.


Katherine Bone said...

I keep notebooks for each book too. Darn-it! I forgot to refill my stash by checking out the school supplies this year. (Note to self: go buy notebooks today.)

When it comes to pens, the kind with the rubber section at the bottom work really well for me as the material buffers the knuckle and gives a better grip. ;)

Since I write historicals, jotting down dialogue doesn't really work for me, but listening to the cadence in how things are said does and I do that regularly.

Your book covers are great, Natalie! :D

gigi said...

Hi Natalie,
I am not a writer but I am an organization freak. I do like pretty notebooks. The older I get the prettier I like them.
My favorite pen for writing with is the uni-ball gel pen medium point.
This is a good retractable pen and the ink flows out so smoothly. I never have to scribble to get it started.

Problem Child said...

Hi Nat! Welcome back!

I'm addicted to office supplies of all sorts -- they don't even have to be fancy or pretty. I just know, somewhere, there is the perfect thing to make me organized and more productive. I just have to find it! (And I have a whole stack of things that *aren't* it...)

Summer said...

I love shiny new notebooks and pens, though I'd say I'm more organized chaos than truly organized.

chey said...

Various parts of my house are littered with notes. I did get organized enough to get binders to put the notes in, but never got around to putting them away. I really should go through the piles of notes.

Denise said...

Hi again, Natalie! I'd never heard of refillable ink pens until I read your post - I'll have to keep an eye out for them now! I'm definitely not the most organized person, so my house is littered with pens and scraps of paper containing to-do lists, notes, book and author recommendations, and the like. But I am organized enough that when I'm writing memos and briefs, I do scribble - messily - any ideas and thoughts in notebooks or legal pads so that I can find them all in one place. I know it'd be much more environmentally friendly to do everything on my laptop, but I'm always worried that my computer will crash and I'll lose everything (I'm not so good with backing up files), and I guess I'm also just used to the immediacy of grabbing a pen and scrawling away.

Natalie Anderson said...

Hi everybody!

Sorry I'm late back - is Saturday morning here in NZ and that means music lessons and netball... and the afteroon at the movies (it's supposed to snow this afternoon but actually the sun is shining!)

Thanks so much for having me back at the Playground ladies! :)

Hmm - I've really got the pen bug now I've put myself on a notebook diet- there is a Mont Blanc boutique in Auckland and I'm there for conference the week after next... I'm just going to have to go and give one a try... ;) Mind you,m will have to rob a bank on the way!!

Back in a bit (pastry making calls) - so glad to know there are so many other notebook nuts out there!

Angel said...

OMG!!! Its supposed to snow?!?! Hard to imagine when we are suffering with 100 degree temps here in the southern part of the US.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I hope I didn't post this at Win a Book too late for the give -- I don't see a mention of a deadline anywhere.

No need to enter me, though, ladies, as always (stupid TBR mountains). I'm dropping in to let you know I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

robynl said...

I love pens, notebooks, post-it's, pads etc. and have many here and there throughout the house.

I like the medium pens best and I seem to write better with them. I love any journals, notebooks/pads but do like the journals lined.