Skip to main content

What You Might Find in Your Old Notebooks

Image placeholder title

As I finish the final revisions on my thesis, I’m eager and
anxious to get started on new work. I
have many stories that are in their early stages. They’re on my desk, begging
to be finished. I also have notebooks full of free writing. And this is one of
my favorite things: going back to those pages and rereading them, trying to
find golden morsels, words and sentences that just glimmer on the page. Words
and sentences that pop. My friend and I did this last summer. We sat on my deck
and free-wrote for hours… and then we went back at the end of the week and
actually switched notebooks and circled the sections that we felt were the most
alive in the other's work. It was fun and it provided lots of new, promising material.
I plan to do some this again soon. It’s like a treasure hunt.

Here is author Natalie Goldberg’s take on rescuing old
material as a part of the rereading and rewriting process:

“As
you reread, circle whole sections that are good in your notebooks. They often
glow off the page and are obvious. They can be used as beginning points for
future writing, or they might be complete poems right there. Try typing them
up. Seeing them in black and white makes it clear whether they work or not.
Only take out the places where there is a blur, where your mind wasn’t present.
Don’t change words, because in this practice you are deepening your ability to
trust your own voice. If you were truly present when you wrote, it will be
there whole. We don’t need to now have our egos manipulate our words to sound
better or the way we want to sound: perfect, happy, on top of everything. This
is naked writing. It is an opportunity to view ourselves without manipulation
and aggression. “I am unhappy”—don’t try to cover that statement up. Accept it
without judgment if that’s how you felt."

Natalie
Goldberg,Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 610

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "different way of seeing the world" poem.

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

From in-person interviews to scouring the web for credible sources, journalist Alison Hill shares tips on how to research topics like a journalist.

Can I Have Your Attention?

Can I Have Your Attention?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, an announcement is about to change the course of history.

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Emmy nominated comedy writer Glenn Boozan discusses how a funny piece of perspective turned into her new humor book, There Are Moms Way Worse Than You.

From Script

Adapting True Crime and True Stories for Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers and showrunners Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis (“Pam & Tommy”), Patrick Macmanus and Liz Hannah (“The Girl from Plainville”) who both have taken creative liberties in adapting true stories for a limited series.

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Author Chanel Cleeton discusses how reader curiosity led her to write her new historical fiction novel, Our Last Days in Barcelona.

Writer's Digest Interview | Marlon James Quote

The Writer's Digest Interview: Marlon James

Booker Prize–winning author Marlon James talks about mythology and world-building in his character-driven epic Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy in this interview from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Podcast Episode, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our newest podcast episode, your chance to be published, and more!

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

Award-winning novelist David Adams Cleveland discusses the timeliness of his new novel, Gods of Deception.