The Notebook as Playground

In my notebook-keeping classes I stress the importance of the writer’s notebook as a playful nesting ground. It is a place to try out words, metaphors, new styles and voices. Think of the journal as a journey and not a destination. It is the path to your castle, but it is not the castle. It is the key to your success, but it is not the finished product.

Many authors use the notebook to do warm-up writing exercises. John Cheever, for example, gave this one exercise to his students which you might want to do in your own notebook. He would tell his students to write a letter from the perspective of a person trapped in a burning building. In my classes, I suggest my students write a letter to their fictional character or write a letter to someone they’ve had difficulty communicating with, either dead or alive. Just because you write the letter, does not necessarily mean you need to send it, but if you decide to, then that’s all right also.


Have you written letters in your journal? If yes, describe how you felt afterwards.


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Quote of the Week

"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me

I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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