Last week a teacher tweeted asking any writers for co-operation with a project she was leading on Notebooking. The idea that schools teach creative writing is a joy to me. We had the subject Essay Writing, which could have been interpreted as creative writing, although the words sound formal, discouraging to children. Creative Writing speaks of pens and papers, illustrations, even photos. It’s about doing stuff, making something.
I was asked to send photos of my notebooks, which I did.
As an aside, I suspect that my love of writing by the time I was aged 10-11 came to my aid with the feared 11+ exam. Not that I feared it, I just did it because that was expected. The only paper I remember was the English essay. The instruction at the top of the paper was, Write a story. My favourite reading at the time were the fairy stories. Hans Andserson, Grimm, The Blue Fairy Book, The Red, The Green…I didn’t care as long as I could return the completed book to the library and take out another one. So I wrote a long tale, set in a forest about fairies, wizards, gnomes, goblins and princesses. I was still writing when ‘Time’ was called. I passed my 11+.
Now I am, as Jessica Vye, in Jane Gardam’s novel A Long Way from Verona was told ‘a writer beyond all possible doubt’. I have notebooks. When I’m at my desk, I use them to make plot plans, record how far I’ve reached with a particular project. I have one as a day book, keeping track of what I’ve done, emails sent, telephone conversations made, information discovered on the internet, any decisions which have been made, daily progress.
What I don’t do very often, is to jot down stuff while I am on the go. I used to. Each train journey, I’d get out my notebook and, when I could, I’d record conversations, describe passengers (fun) and the scenery (usually boring). These notebooks are not nearly as interesting as the sketch books I kept when I was a painter. Or thought I was a painter.
I’ve only used this ‘fascinating’ observation once. Following a course on Writing the Novel with Unthank School I was asked to go outside for a walk, make notes and then write them up, in a story or just as a piece of writing. The result is my blog on this site called Writing a Walk.
I hope the school children with their notebooking do the same thing.