10 Books That Will Make You Want to Keep a Notebook

(And some other resources, too)

Shaunta Grimes
Feb 11, 2019 · 5 min read
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Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

“If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair.”
— Madeline L’Engle

Keeping a notebook is essential, I think, particularly for writers. There’s something about the physical act of writing, of filling up pages with ideas, that sparks inspiration for me in a way that nothing else does.

I thought it might be interesting to share some of my favorite resources for learning to keep a notebook, and inspirations for the practice in the form of other people’s diaries.

Breathing In, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook by Ralph Fletcher

One of the best tricks I know for learning how to do something new is to find a book that teaches that thing to children. If you’d like to try that approach to learning to keep a writer’s notebook, try Fletcher’s book A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You.

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The Revenge of Analog by David Sax

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642 Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

I’m not generally all that big on writing prompt books, but this is a good one. It’s designed as a journal you can write directly in, but when I use it, I prefer to write my responses in my own notebook.

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Mark Twain’s Notebooks: Journals, Letters, Observations, Wit, Wisdom, and Doodles by Carlo De Vito

Mark Twain’s Notebooks is actually one in a series that includes books on the notebooks of Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo Di Vinci and Michelangelo.

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Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions by Guillermo del Torro

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

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The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. 1: 1915–1919 by Virginia Woolf

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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait with an introduction by Carlos Fuentes

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Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947–1954 by Jack Kerouac

It’s edited to show his growth as a writer, which is fascinating to me. I think it’s easy to imagine that superstars were born that way. It’s a good exercise to look at the work that went into getting there.

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Non-book Notebook Inspiration


Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation and the upcoming novel The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer.

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Shaunta Grimes

Written by

Learn. Write. Repeat. Visit me at ninjawriters.org. Reach me at shauntagrimes@gmail.com. (My posts may contain affiliate links!)

The Every Day Novelist

An Experiment in Reading + Writing

Shaunta Grimes

Written by

Learn. Write. Repeat. Visit me at ninjawriters.org. Reach me at shauntagrimes@gmail.com. (My posts may contain affiliate links!)

The Every Day Novelist

An Experiment in Reading + Writing

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