The 3 Notebooks Every Writer Should Keep

by Jennifer Blanchard


As a writer, you probably find yourself jotting random things down throughout the day. A story idea here, a random line there.

A great way to build momentum for your creativity is to keep three notebooks: a Morning Pages journal, a Writer’s Notebook and a pocket notebook.

A Morning Pages Journal

Created by writing and creativity coach, Julia Cameron, Morning Pages are three hand-written stream-of-consciousness pages you write first thing when you wake up in the morning, before you do anything else. Cameron specializes in creative unblocking and recovery, and Morning Pages are the primary tool she recommends.

Here’s how to do Morning Pages:

  • Put a notebook and pen/pencil by your bedside
  • First thing when you wake up, grab your Morning Pages journal and write three stream-of-consciousness pages
  • When you’ve finished all three pages, put your journal back and go on with your day

It’s simple to do and the results are fantastic.

Morning Page users have found more clarity and focus in their writing. They report having more ideas than they even know what to do with. And they say their outlook is much more positive.

A Writer’s Notebook

This is the notebook you use for your writing. You can do writing prompts in it. You can keep little bits of conversations you hear throughout the day. You can record all your story ideas in one place.

In your Writer’s Notebook, you can write all your outlines for the projects you’re working on. You can make a list of all the books you want to read. You can write down pieces of writing advice or quotes you want to remember.

Basically, your Writer’s Notebook is the “net” you catch all your creativity and ideas in.

A Pocket Notebook

Since your Writer’s Notebook will likely be a larger notebook, like a Moleskine or spiral-bound journal, it may be difficult to carry it around with you all the time. But as a writer, you will want to keep a notebook on you at all times, because you never know when you’ll want to write something down.

Also, when you keep a notebook with you all the time, you’re showing the Universe that you’re open to ideas, and that in itself will attract more ideas to you.

Other Types of Notebooks

There are so many different types of notebooks you could keep. These are just three I recommend all writer’s keep.

Here are some other types of notebooks and journals you can keep:

  • A dream journal–Use it to record your dreams as soon as you wake up.
  • A personal journal or diary–Yes, just like the one you kept in middle school.
  • Gratitude journal–Use it to record everything you’re grateful for at the end of each day.
  • Achievements journal–Use it to record all of your achievements, large and small.
  • A “Manifesting Beliefs” journal–Use it to open your mind to all the possibilities and opportunities available to you.

One final word on keeping notebooks and journals is that you should make sure to hang on to the notebooks and journals once you’ve filled them. Keep ‘em on your bookshelf if you have space. Then whenever you need an idea starter or to remember something you wrote about, you’ll have all your notebooks and journals accessible at all times.

What types of notebooks and journals do you keep?

Today’s Challenge: Treat yourself to at least one new notebook, and commit to using it consistently this year to help you focus your writing and ideas.

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers, a blog that offers guidance for writers who struggle to get started. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits challenge.

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  • Lola

    I’m really excited about starting this. My writing goal this year was to write ten minutes every day and the morning journal will help me make sure that I at least do that.

  • GinaMarie

    I love this idea. The only notebook I been keeping lately is a gratitude journal. My poor writing ideas are written on everything from cardboard to toilet tissue! LOL I even found an old phone and my memo was full of ideas so keep these journals will be good for me lol

  • P.I. Barrington

    Finally a simple explanation/instruction on keeping journals. I’m not a big journalist keeper but got one for Christmas so I’m almost good to go. Thanks for posting this Jennifer!

  • P.I. Barrington

    Thanks Jennifer. I’ve never been a big journal keeper but this explanation/instruction is very inspiring! I got a journal for Christmas and am almost set to go! Thanks again!

  • Christopher | ScribblePlay

    I’ve been carrying around a pocket notebook for the past few years and find it really convenient, but definitely see the advantage of a larger space to write.

    Nice post, Jennifer

  • Jenn

    Journal sections at bookstores are dangerous for my wallet. I love carefully choosing each one for a special purpose.

    Right now, I am actively using six journals:
    A huge one for writing my memoir;
    A large one for my food journal;
    A medium one for timed free writing exercises;
    A small one to carry in my bag for jotting down random ideas;
    A little one to log my writing time each day;
    A tiny one to keep track of my books to-read list.

    Great post! I find having designated journals keeps me organized and on task. I’ve never been more focused. Thanks for all of the inspiration so far. I look forward to finding the Better Writing Habits email in my inbox.

  • Lunar Hine

    What works for me is to write all of the above, plus shopping lists and notes on the phone, into one journal. They inform each other and I read them through after, often getting life details for characters or ideas for a new plot from non-writerly notes. Courses for horses I guess.

  • Robin

    Just catching up with all the posts. Love this idea and started morning pages this morning. Going in search of a pocket notebook and may just treat myself to a moleskin notebook. Thanks.

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  • melydia

    I just heard about this site from Notebook Stories. It’s a shame that I missed the challenge, but I look forward to reading through your archives. I drag beat-up old notebooks with me everywhere. I use them for everything: writing ideas, notes, outlines, observations, stream-of-consciousness, whatever. I have a separate diary for chronicling my day-to-day life, and I’m working on incorporating the practice of gratitude journaling into it.

    I like the concept of Morning Pages but I’ve had trouble fitting them into my life. (And before anyone says it, no, I can’t get up any earlier. 5:45am is my limit; getting up earlier leads to fatigue and ultimately sickness.) I’ll figure out something eventually, I’m sure.

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    Nice article.., its difficult to decide about proper type

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  • Whizz

    Dorothea Brande wrote about morning pages back in 1934 in her book called Becoming a Writer; which is a wonderful book on writing.

  • Suhail

    This a great way to get yourself to write everyday. It’s weird, but the stiffness of consistency and discipline gives you the gift of free-flowing creativity. Thank you!

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