Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Michelle Haseltine: I am Safe and Free

I write in notebooks. As a kid, I didn’t love dolls and teddy bears...I loved books and notebooks.


My life as a notebook writer began on Saturday November 5,1983.



Ever since that first notebook, I’ve always kept a notebook. The kind of notebook has changed: spiral notebook, hardbound, lines, no lines. 


Ever since that first notebook, I’ve always kept a notebook. The kind of notebook has changed: spiral notebook, hardbound, lines, no lines. 

Today I prefer using a sketchbook for my notebook. The utensils I use to write have progressed from pencils to pens to fancy pens. What hasn’t changed is how my notebook is an extension of me. It travels with me. It’s the place that feels like home. No matter where I am in the world, when I open the pages of my notebook, I am safe and free. 

The most important thing about writing in a notebook is permission. Give yourself permission to allow your notebook what you need it to be. Make up your own rules. The audience is YOU and only YOU. Sometimes you’ll share your notebook pages with someone else, but for me that’s the exception, not the rule. I write for me. The words fall out and I allow it. I scribble. I cross out. I make giant messes of some pages, while others are works of art. It’s me. It’s all me. Problems get untangled in my notebook, ideas are born and nurtured, and memories are cherished on the pages. 

Here are my rules for keeping a notebook. 

1. Write the date, day and time for every entry. 


2. Use lots of color and find pens that fit me and my mood! 


3. If what I’m writing could be hurtful to someone else, be aware of how it’s written. My audience is me, but I think about what would happen if I lost my notebook. I don’t curse and I don’t call anyone names. When I’m mad...I write about how I feel instead of what someone else has done! 

4. Have fun! 


5. Open my notebook everyday. I find if I open it, I will usually jot something down. Making a rule of writing everyday is too much (for me) and then I feel guilty...NO FEELING GUILTY. Maybe that should be rule number six. 


6. No guilt!


Writing in a notebook may take practice if you aren’t used to it. Make it a habit. Start with noticing and make lists. Sketch and doodle. Write a poem. The important thing about notebook writing is that you begin.

Try this: Find a spot you enjoy spending time and bring your notebook. Sit. Watch. Listen. Jot down whatever you notice. Make a list. Sketch. Use your surroundings to inspire a piece of writing. After ten minutes, stand up and walk to another spot. Start all over again. Notice things. Write them down. Live life as a writer. Michelle Haseltine is in her twentieth year of education. Currently spending her days with sixth graders in Loudoun County, VA reading and writing. Michelle is a Teacher-Consultant with the Northern Virginia Writing Project and continues to search for the book she’s destined to write. She can be found at Twitter as @mhaseltine or @haseltineclass and at her blog One Grateful Teacher.

In honor of Michelle's notebook keeping, Sharing Our Notebooks is offering a giveaway to a commenter on this post...a giveaway of an unlined sketchbook, just as Michelle likes to use. Please leave a comment by Wednesday, September 15, 2015 to be entered into this drawing.

23 comments:

  1. I wish I had kept notebooks when I was young. It would be fun to get to know my younger self.

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    1. It is great to look back and see who I was. :) Thanks for reading!!

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  2. I love peeking inside your notebook and reviewing your own rules for writing. My students read Stephen King's On Writing this summer and your post makes me think that a piece on our own rules could generate a lot of discussion and thinking about the writing community we're creating in our classroom. Thanks, Michelle!

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    1. Oh I love this idea Lee Ann!!! Ii can't wait to see what your students create! Please share!

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  3. Michelle is a notebook champion. I've had the pleasure of watching her with her palette of pens, changing color like an artist. I strive to be more like her, freely expressing myself in my own notebook world.

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    1. Aww, thanks Margaret! I'm happy I inspire! :)

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  4. Love how Michelle keeps her notebooks. I started journaling daily in high school, but over a decade later, my journaling habits are a bit sporadic.

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    1. Thanks Bridget! I went through some dry spots too. It's never too late to start again.

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  5. This is such an inspiring testament to the power of living life as a writer! I love that notion of having your notebook be an extension of you, where problems get untangled, ideas are nurtured, and memories live on. Thank you, Michelle.

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    1. Wow! Thank you Kathy! Your comment means a lot!

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  6. No guilt!! That's so important. I loved your post and thank you for sharing. Write on.

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    1. Thanks you so much! Happy Writing to you too!

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  7. I'm envious of your colorful pages, Michelle. So it made me happy to see your messy page. A desire to create beautiful pages kept me from writing for so long. Now I try to embrace my efforts and remember that last rule: "No guilt!" "The important thing is to begin." Thanks for this inspiring post and fun glimpse inside your notebooks. I want to be a 6th grader in your classroom.

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  8. Sigh. I wish I was a notebook keeper. I've tried!! My writing tends to all be on my blog or on the computer, but I wish I kept a handwritten one. Your notebook keeping is so inspiring, Michelle. I'm going to try again because of you!!!

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  9. Hi Michelle! Today is a significant day for me, because I discovered that I am a notebook addict! I have spent the past few delicious hours enjoying posts about notebook addiction. Your post is lovely and inspiring...I loved it!

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  10. Hi Michelle! Today is a significant day for me, because I discovered that I am a notebook addict! I have spent the past few delicious hours enjoying posts about notebook addiction. Your post is lovely and inspiring...I loved it!

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  11. "Open your notebook everyday." This is my goal! I am a "starter and stopper", on paper and online. My goal is to be more consistent. Thanks for the inspiration! Great post!

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  12. Thanks for posting and being inspiring!

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  13. You must be so inspiring for your students Michelle. They're going to be lifelong 'notebook-keepers'. You're inspiring me to use a little more color. I generally stick with black ink or pencil, will find some good pens, and start some new kinds of entries! Thanks for letting us have a peek! (FYI-don't put me in the drawing, Amy, I have plenty. . .)

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  14. Wow Michelle! How come it has taken me so long to find this spot. This is beautiful.

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  15. Wow Michelle! How come it has taken me so long to find this spot. This is beautiful.

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  16. Amy, it is exciting that you featured Michelle in this post because her notebooks are so full of passion and energy. Doodle art, colors, and ideas such as "Writing is an act of faith," make up the high points of her notebooks. I love the thought that writing is a lifelong art. Thank you to both of you.

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  17. I love seeing the variety of entries in Michelle's notebooks: narratives, quotes, lists, pictures. "Give yourself permission to allow your notebook what you need it to be." So important when I think of using Writer's Notebooks with my students.

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