Saturday, November 15, 2014

Breathing In Breathing Out by Ralph Fletcher - My Notebook Breathes, Does Yours?

Pros: Very well-written and has plenty of good ideas.
Cons: Nothin'

The Bottom Line: Good ideas worthy of checking out, but see if your library has it first - especially if you already keep a notebook.

In 2010 I owned over 12 notebooks, practically all of them chock full of stuff. Some are random notebooks, other have specific purposes, and a few that were still empty. I don't know how many I have now. But at the time, to my utter delight, I got two free ones while buying my college books my last semester (still don’t know why, but I wasn't going to argue over glorious sheets of white, college-ruled paper). So I decided one of them should be my notebook for my Writing Seminar class.

Breathing In, Breathing Out by Ralph Fletcher was the book of choice for the class. It’s 94 pages (the last 5 pages just the bibliography and such). There are 16 short chapters discussing various topics of writing in a notebook. Some of these ideas include:
  • Making lists
  • Writing about the past
  • Your notebook is a place for pieces to sit and “compost” (they hang out until you find ways to use them later if you’re so inclined to)
  • It’s okay to write like crap in your notebook
  • Go ahead and reread stuff
  • Write down little facts, quotes from others, little things that act as triggers
Each of these ideas is unique, contains examples, and explained in a very clear-cut way that anyone can understand, but it’s done well so that it doesn’t sound at all like the author is talking down to the reader; his language use is very pleasant and you want to keep reading. I'm a fan of his metaphors.

Fletcher does a good job putting across exactly what he wants readers to get. He doesn’t push the writer to do anything; he just puts it out there for you to try in your own notebook. Anything to get you writing. If you don’t keep a notebook, or are thinking about getting one, I highly encourage you to do so, it’s really handy and fun, and I do recommend taking a peek at this book because it’s full of nifty tidbits you might never have thought of before.

That was my problem though. It says on the back, “This book is for new writers as well as those who may once have loved to write but have lost the spark along the way.” Um, well, I’m neither one of those. I’ve always had at least one notebook going. That and I do everything he suggests in the book. Ha! So in the end, though it was fun to read and think, “Cool, I already do that,” it wasn’t really of any help to me. But that’s a good thing for people who aren’t like me, haha. It really is a source of goodies for new and lost writers.

Ralph Fletcher also has a kid's version available (as this version is now out of print. Aww.)


Notes from the playlist: "Like a Prayer" by Madonna

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