Thursday, 30 April 2015

N is for...Notebooks by Annie Burrows

On the first Friday of every month, Novelista Annie Burrows has been sharing a very personal view of what it is like to be a writer.  And is dealing with themes in alphabetical order.  This month, she's reached N

If you're serious about being a writer, you need to have a notebook (and pen) handy at all times, because you never know when inspiration is going to strike.  I learned this the hard way, when I had a brilliant idea to deepen my hero's conflict, but by the time I got round to sitting down at my laptop, and applying it to the story I was writing, I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was.  I still can't remember what it was.  But I can remember how cross I felt that I'd forgotten it.

I carry this one in my pocket to jot down things that occur to me when I'm on the move.  I love the design that makes the pen a clasp to keep it closed.  What I don't love is the fact that the pen has run out of ink already.  Which means I need to carry a little pencil as well.

I have another notebook in my handbag, in case I'm out without a coat.  Or I've hung my coat up in a cloakroom.  It's so battered that I'm ashamed to take a picture of it and post it.  People who have been to lunch with me will have seen it however and can vouch for how disreputable it looks!

I have another one on my bedside table in case inspiration strikes me at night.  My husband has got used to me suddenly sitting bolt upright and grabbing my pen.  "Got an idea?" he murmurs sleepily.  Not even expecting an answer because I just grunt at him, and keep on writing.  Inspiration is so elusive, sometimes, that even pausing to explain what it is will make it shimmer into a sort of mist that you just can't get a hold of any longer.

And then, there's my collection of big notebooks.  These are rough drafts of all the stories that have come to me over the years, when I've been away from a computer so that I couldn't type them straight into my "ideas" file.  A big notebook will always go in my suitcase if I'm going on holiday, because when sitting on a beach, I'd as soon be writing a story, as reading one.

And a confession about these notebooks.  Some of them have gone to work with me, when I was working in call centres, or as a temporary receptionist.  While other temps might sit about filing their nails, I was scribbling down my ideas, under the desk.  And sometimes resenting the phone ringing and interrupting me while I was in full flow!

Annie's latest release is "A Mistress for Major Bartlett", the 2nd in the "Brides of Waterloo" trilogy from Harlequin Mills & Boon.  In bookshops from June 1st, or available for pre-order from Amazon now.

You can find Annie on facebook at Annie Burrows 

You can also follow her on twitter @NovelistaAnnie


  1. I love taking my notebook into a café. I start work on my wip but inevitably hear a conversation that would make a great story. It's easy then to take down every word without being noticed... Thanks for a brilliant blog post.

  2. I think a lot of writers do this kind of thing, Guernsey Girl. I envy you being able to work in a cafe...I need peace and quiet. I get too easily distracted if there are too many people about. But for jotting down ideas, or snippets of conversation...oh, yes!


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