Ironically my first several writers notebooks were the ones I used with my students in writers workshop. In them we made maps of our hearts, visual lifelines, observations, overheard conversations, and wonderings. These were the seeds for memoirs, realistic fiction, poetry, and informational books.
As of 2008, I started using some of the writing pieces and writing techniques to branch out into my own writing outside of school. I first started by submitting a nonfiction picture book about the Great Wall of China called WONDROUS WALL. Then an idea took hold of me for a contemporary fantasy middle grade novel called UNDER LOCH AND KEY.
My writers notebooks for the last four years have included excerpts of writing exercises from classes, notes from writing conferences, jottings of ideas for my novel, character interviews, and lists of events that should could occur next in UNDER LOCH AND KEY. I've occasionally written ideas for new characters and plots for other stories, but so many of my writers notebooks have been devoted to the novel, it's been hard for me to shift gears.
My newest piece of writing is nonfiction entitled YOU CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME and will require a lot of research. My goal this summer is to start doing the research, to take notes in my writers notebook, and to jot down some try-its. I'm curious to see how my latest writers notebook evolves.