Friday, August 24, 2012

My Notebooks & I

A few of my notebooks, and, yes, Michael Jackson's Invincible CD from 2001.
A basic suggestion that I have for those who enjoy writing, but find themselves at a loss for subjects or ideas, is to carry a notebook with them during their daily travels. In the modern age, of course, you could sensibly substitute some sort of i-thing, and though I lack that high end fancy tech, I have on occasion used the "Notes" function of my cell phone for similar purposes. 

My thought process: connecting
Into Thin Air to Shakespeare
to Star Trek V.
In my estimation, this is slightly different than the Writing Journals I have my own students keep in class, though ideally the outcomes of both are similar. Those of my students who most seek to develop their skill (and love) of writing seem to understand and embrace the idea of two writing journals: one for school that is more teacher directed and a second that is personal.

If math classes can watch Numbers
as curriculum, why not
CSI:NY for English?
In-class journaling is among the most enjoyed activities I have my students work on year long. A subtle distinction is to be made between the two (in-class and in-pocket) writing journals. Different than a personal journal, or traditional diary, in-class writer's notebooks allow students to explore potential writing ideas at their own pace with the guidance of their teacher.

In all of my high school English classes, students are required to bring a Composition Book on the second day for safe keeping in our classroom and each class or so they are provided with a prompt to get their writing juices flowing. While these entries are evaluated with points and feedback, the evaluation is not for content in as much as for quantity of information put forth and the quality of details provided (or whatever is is loosely prescribed by the prompt).

I warned you that it was
bad imagery.
Personally, I am a proponent of the personal diary (or to confuse matters more, "writing journal") for my own purposes. Again, I will almost always have a small spiral bound notebook with me that I use to keep notes as I fumble through my days. Some of what I scribble is related to work activities that I need to follow through on, items I need to pick up on the way home, books/artists/authors/websites that are mentioned to me in passing that I would like to learn more about, and even recipes that may be fun to make at home. Mixed in is the occasional story idea, image that has struck me, or haiku jottings.

The key for me here is that while these may seem like a disjointed collection of notes, ramblings or badly conceived poetry drafts, ultimately they may (just may) serve as fodder for some later project or piece I am moved to draft for my own pleasure. More often they just become part of a collection of notebooks that I'll thumb through for inspiration when none is to be found elsewhere.

But, they are on my shelf awaiting future mining...

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