Keep a Notebook

Advice from Donald M. Murray

Donald M. Murray advised would-be writers to maintain a continuous dialogue with themselves about their work by keeping a notebook.

Keep a notebook that you may call a journal, a log, or something else. When I called my notebook a journal, it evoked pretentious literary generalizations that embarrassed me. Now I call the notebook a daybook, and it has become a sort of traveling office in which I can scribble ideas, draft leads, brainstorm, map, record overheard conversations, list unexpected statistics, diagram pieces of writing, write drafts, and carry a continuous conversation with myself about my work, how it is going, how it isn’t going, and where it should go.

— Donald M. Murray, Write to Deadline: The Journalist at Work (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000), 43–44.