Friday, May 22, 2015

me and my shadow I mean notebook

sticker courtesy of Pomelo Books
Over at Sharing Our Notebooks, Amy LV is collecting summer notebook and journal ideas for writers of all ages.  I contributed this little snip from my current notebook and  can't wait to see all the cool suggestions she's collecting.  I always look forward to summer break and having more time to spend with my notebook, and now I'll have lots of new adventures to take it on.

Try This!  Doodle Your Listening

Heidi Mordhorst

I debated for a long time about  how many notebooks to keep:  one for school, one for poetry, one for my calendar/agenda, one for everyday household business, one for—yep, that was too many notebooks to juggle.

In the end, I do keep a separate binder for my teacher stuff, but for all other purposes I have Just One Notebook.  I use it for intentional sitting-down-to-write, but it’s also the one that I take to writing conferences, to services at my congregation, to a political meeting, to a wellness workshop.  The pages below are from a workshop called “Redefining Health,” and they definitely do not capture the organized thread of the presentation!  Instead you see my doodled, fonted, decorated, designed version of  it.  I have recorded certain turns of phrase, questions for myself, pairings of words, tangents, direct quotes, and there are lots of possibilities for mining poems from the graphic details.

I’m calling this thing you might also like to try “DOODLE YOUR LISTENING.” Carry your notebook anywhere you’ll be sitting and listening--in the car with the radio on, in church, at a meeting, at the pool where people don’t know you’re listening!  Design and decorate your notes to see what happens!

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) had it right:

“A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories:' and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there.”
—from “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”

Matt Forrest Esenwine continues his Big Year of Breakout by hosting Poetry Friday today at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme.  Go congratulate him on his first book contract!


  1. I have too many journals. For different purposes. I always have a small one in my purse for those times I am listening. Also the notes app on my phone works too.
    I'm excited about Amy's gallery of "Try This." I even had a student contribute. A great resource for summer writing.

  2. I now have a small notebook in my purse, thanks to my husband...jotting, doodling, writing whole never know what you will doodle-down.

  3.'ve got me thinking. Maybe when I finish the current blue notebook and start the new purple one I got for my birthday, I will try the one notebook approach. It will be interesting to see what happens when I keep all the parts of my life together in one place. I'll either be a more integrated person, or I'll go a little nuts trying to find and track thoughts.

    Here's my challenge -- so I've got this shelf of notebooks full of writing and jotting...but I never go back and READ any of them. I need to. But when?

    1. I too. Let's set a purpose for our summer. Let's begin each writing/notebooking moment this summer rereading 3-5 pages of an old notebook. When I do this I'm always amazed at the cool and interesting thoughts I'd forgotten I had. : ) Are you in?

  4. Mary has an excellent point. I, too, have many notebooks. On occasion I go back through them and think, "Wow! That was a great idea!" and others "What was I thinking?"

    I love your idea of doodling rather than trying to put words to everything. I'll have to give it a try, Heidi!

  5. I only wish I could doodle. Somewhere along the line I lost the free-ness and lack of judgment of a child. As for notebooks, any old scrap of paper, usually an envelope, works for me!

  6. Love this, Heidi - I'm a lifelong doodler, too. I've been "consolidating" in recent years, too.

    The Swift quote is wonderful!! Thanks for all.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!