Certain subjects come up every now and then in ABBA blogs, things that are dear to a writer's heart, something that bothers us all or questions we are frequently asked.
I am always fascinated by the way each topic is approached or dealt with in a completely different manner. One of the things that makes ABBA posts so interesting to read.
One of these is the perennial question of Where do you get your ideas? and Emma Barnes' lovely poem on the blog yesterday is a great example of a completely different approach to the subject.
Notebooks come up quite often. I looked and found there are 9 blogs with the tag 'notebook' and i am quite sure there are more where they are discussed but not tagged as such.
I know some writers whose notebooks are a work of art, with research information, quotes and sketches. Mine are sadly not such as these. But I love notebooks. Some of mine are gifts but many of them I have bought myself - unable to resist their bright or pretty colours and images, or covers with a luxurious feel of soft leather.
These are just some of the notebooks I have collected, some are quite well used but many are bare aside from a page or two. It is fascinating to go through them - all the things I discover that I had meant to remember, but had forgotten..
Often I will start one and forget what I was using it for then a new one comes along, so I start that, delighting in that wonderful sense of something fresh and new, the first pristine page...ahh!
Some are filled with off ideas, scraps of stories, thoughts on how to change something I am writing.
One problem with notebooks is that sometimes I can't bear to write in them, especially if they are new, expensive, beautiful or quirky notebooks
I have one in handmade paper bound in bark and tied with a thin string, it came as a present with a peacock feather quill pen and a bottle of dragonblood ink! A truly a lovely present from one of my sons, that I have looked at longingly for a long time but not had the courage to start writing in!
The two notebooks in the picture at the top of the page were both presents and I decided I wanted to think of a way to use them together and do something new and interesting.
The lovely blue one with the picture of a dragonfly says 'IMAGINE' on the front. inside each left hand page is blank with a quote at the foot of the page, the facing page has lines.
The black soft leather notebook has lined pages.
The quotes gave me the idea to give myself a challenge.
Being someone who writes on a laptop rather than by hand I use notebooks more as a way to think and jot ideas, or when I have no access to my laptop.
The quotes are to be the seed for a short piece of writing, title or just the spark. Reading them I realised they could be taken in all sorts of ways for any genre of story or perhaps a poem, One or two have suggested ideas for a book I am currently writing. I find these quotes are real triggers for the imagination. e.g.
'Not all who wander are lost' J. R. R. Tolkien
'Everything you can imagine is real' Pablo Picasso
I decided I would use the black notebook to make notes (I am a bit of a scribbler) and it would be where I would try out ideas and the Imagine notebook is where I would write the main part of each piece. I also discovered that the book has each quote repeated three or four times and this made me think of how I could experiment in different genre e.g. the Picasso quote could work as well in reality as it would in fantasy.
I have to admit I have barely started but like all the most successful New Year resolutions there is more chance of success if you tell people about them!
I hope to be able to report back later in the year that at least some of the pages of these new twin notebooks have been filled.
How do you use your notebooks?
Linda Strachan is Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh
Author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and a writing handbook Writing For Children Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me