What is the Writer’s Notebook?

“A writer’s notebook is a blank book where a writer can engage in the fun, often messy job of being a writer – practicing, listening,
playing with language, gathering images and insights and ideas. The purpose of such a notebook is to nourish the writer…
such a notebook… is one of the most essential tools of the trade.”

Fletcher and Portalupi, Lessons for the Writer’s Notebook, p.4

At Lilydale High School, students are encouraged to engage with their writing as a writer. An important part of the writing process is noting down thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us – the Writer’s Notebook is the tool that allows students to do just this. From their Writer’s Notebook, students are able to develop ideas into a piece of writing. The Writer’s Notebook is a personal place where students create and keep their initial ‘Low Stakes’ writing. Students are encouraged to use Google Docs as a single, central and easily accessible way to create their Writer’s Notebook. For students who do not have an iPad®, a small blank or lined notebook is acceptable.

What goes in the Writer’s Notebook?

Anything! Quite literally, anything. When something makes you think, believe or feel something… put it in your notebook! The contents of a Writer’s Notebook is usually individual, based in the owner of the Notebook. It may contain ideas, words, quotes, images, videos (using Google Docs), flyers, cards, song lyrics… the list is literally endless! In order to encourage students to have a variety of entries in their Wrtier’s Notebook, each Friday students are given a prompt during Form Assembly. These prompts are available on this website – simply follow the links through the ‘Writer’s Notebook –> Stimuli –> Friday Frenzy’ menu options. Also available here are other stimuli that can act as seeds for writing. Below are some examples of what the pages of a Writer’s Notebook might look like. From MargD Teaching Posters.



How to decide what to put into your Writer’s Notebook

There are many ways to decide what to put into your Writer’s Notebook. Here are some helpful hints to get you started:

  • List favourite foods, movies, books, places you love.
  • Write the title of a special time in your life.
  • Stencil the name of a special person.
  • Put in a photo.
  • Respond to a poem or story and say how it speaks to you.
  • Sketch the people you love.
  • Jot down memories related to a favourite object.
  • Put in a letter, card or postcard from a special person.
  • Collect strong story leads.
  • Use this term’s topic or study for ideas.
  • Put in tickets from a special event you attended.
  • Sketch something that is going on in your life right now.
  • Put in a great picture you’ve found.
  • Make a map of your bedroom, house, neighbourhood.
  • Copy in some funny/touching/ inspiring quotes
  • Make a web of special moments/important people.
  • Put in a magazine or newspaper headline or article.

What do I do when I have put ‘seeds’ into my Notebook?

Once you’ve added a seed it’s time to think. Thinking takes quiet time by yourself. What does this seed make you to think of? You can express your ideas in several ways:

  • Use the headings ‘I Think’, ‘I Feel’, ‘I Wonder’ to put down ideas.
  • Write random words that the seed draws from your mind.
  • Use a graphic organizer.
  • Make a list.
  • Use the Thinking Hats.
  • Use the headings ‘I Remember’, ‘I Hope’, ‘I Imagine’.
  • Draw a Venn Diagram to find similarities and differences between two ideas.
  • For photos, use these questions to help.
    • Who is in the photo?
    • What is happening?
    • What does this photo make me think about?
    • What would I be doing if I was in the photo?
  • Make a concept map or a flow chart.
  • Use a Thinker’s Key.

Do I have to have a separate notebook?

LHS strongly recommends the use of Google Docs as a central, convenient and secure place to create your Writer’s Notebook. Students are also able to use other free apps such as Pages or Notes, however, the documents created in these apps are easily lost. If you do not have an iPad®, an A5 or similar lined or blank notebook that is easy to carry with you is recommended. It is important that your Writer’s Notebook is kept in one place, as it will be an important source of inspiration for your writing.