Monday, September 12, 2016

Kiesha Shepard: Notebooks for Life

Notebooks have been called different things by many writers. Some writers call the notebook a workbench or a think-tank.  Other writers might call it a sketchbook or a safe place. I believe the notebook takes on meaning and significance the very moment a writer begins to write. It becomes as unique as the writer, living and breathing each day with the thoughts and feelings of the writer.

My notebooks are my special safe-keepers of my thinking and writing life. Keeping a notebook has made my life so much more fruitful. It brings a fullness to my world each day. The notebook helps me pay attention to life by allowing me the freedom to live and write wide-awake.

For this reason, my notebooks are brimming with many types of entries. There are so many ways that I capture and collect my thoughts of this world in my notebooks.

One of my favorite ways to use my notebook is for collecting on topics. I often make lists around a topic. This helps me think of all the ways I have already written about my topic in the notebook. It also encourages me to try out new ways to write about my topic in order to flesh out what I really want to say. I have discovered that this strategy gives me fresh ideas for weaving in new thinking about my topic.

I organize my collections by rereading entries and flagging them with sticky notes. Each sticky note has a label which identifies that entry by subject, topic, or theme. This is a really handy way for me to refer back to previous entries in order to layer more meaning on whatever topic or piece of writing I’m working with.

I also use notebooks to spark ideas for poems, books, and essays. I am always collecting my observations and snippets of thinking in my notebook. Each entry is so important to me, so I return to the notebook often to reread. So many of my ideas for poems and stories that I want to write start bubbling up in my notebook this way. I am always surprised at how my drafts emerge and blossom from the work in my notebook. For me, notebooks are certainly keepsakes forever!

Invitation to Write: You can use your notebook for life, too! Try starting with the little things around you. Write whatever you see right now around you. It could be living or nonliving. Then, narrow your focus to one of those things and write. Allow yourself the freedom to write whatever comes. You might be surprised at where this writing leads you! Often our best writing comes from something quite simple and concrete in our lives. Our notebooks can capture and hold safely all that writing for us. In this way, the notebook is truly a friend for life!

Kiesha Shepard is a Literacy Specialist at Spring Creek Elementary School in College Station, Texas. She has a giant love for writing and the teaching of writing. You can find invitations to write, teaching resources, and some of her poems on her website Whispers From the RidgeYou can connect with Kiesha on Twitter @kshepard_write or by email, and she also welcomes you to follow the amazing K-4 writers at her school’s writing blog  HERE.

Kiesha has generously offered a giveaway of one of her favorite poem books - EVIDENCE by Mary Oliver - for a reader of this post.  Please leave a comment by Saturday, October 1 to be entered into this random drawing.  Please be sure to leave a way to contact you in your comment as well.

Please know that Sharing Our Notebooks welcomes all kinds of notebook keepers - of any age and interest - to open up their pages and share their process.  At the present time, I am accepting all notebook entries and am especially hoping to receive some entries from boys and men who keep any kind of notebooks.  If you are interested in writing in this space, please contact me, Amy, directly.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. I love seeing all the samples- it makes it seem more real and possible! Off to follow you on Twitter! I am @ErikaMVictor

  2. Love this! It reminds me of memories at the Farm. Miss you, Kiesha!

  3. Thank you! I love seeing all the different ways you use your notebook & the sticky note reflections on your own work. Great visuals to use with my class!

  4. I use my notebooks in similar ways. So many ideas, spilled across the pages, in a scrawl that even I can't read sometimes. Great post, Amy.

  5. Excellent! I started free writing and generating ideas in a similar way

  6. All those different ways to write in your notebooks! It makes me want to be a more prolific writer. Your entries inspire me to write more in my notebooks!

  7. I always thought that I needed a person who will write my essay for me. Than I bought my first notebook and realized that I can do it myself.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.