Why I Got Rid of All My Notebooks

decluttering as a writer

I've been receiving notebooks as gifts for as long as I can remember. Well, as long as I was telling people I wanted to be a writer. Notebooks are easy gifts: they can be beautiful, they can be practical, and it's an easy writing accessory that everyone understands. 

As someone who has kept a journal my entire life, these notebook gifts have been a blessing, honestly. I've rarely had to buy my own journals, especially if someone goes above-and-beyond and gives me a Moleskine for Christmas. However, it also has meant that I've always had a surplus of notebooks. 

In fact, this surplus started to get really embarrassing when I was pregnant. I unearthed a box of blank notebooks while getting organized and cleaning out Forrest's room. I had a stack of empty notebooks on my desk, on the bookshelf in my office, in a drawer under my desk... I had notebooks. I had notebooks upon notebooks. I had more notebooks than I would ever use in my life. Why? Because I cannot hand write fiction, or poetry, or anything. The only thing I use notebooks for is journaling. And a girl can only journal so much. 

It was time to bite the bullet. I always wanted to be the kind of person who could quietly sit with a notebook and write a story. At least get out the bare bones of it. I like journaling by hand and I like taking notes; I like writing out my grocery lists and to do lists. But trying to describe something, to actually write, by hand is a huge challenge for me. I know myself well enough now to know that it's just never going to happen. That's fine! 

So I had to get rid of all those notebooks. 

Some of them were beautiful, and expensive. Some of them I had bought myself, sure that the "right notebook" would spur my creativity. Some were cheap ones I'd bought in the last days of School Supply sales. Some were gifts. Some were party favors, or I received free from work. 

They all went. Into a box, that went to Goodwill, that hopefully sold them to someone who needed them, who can actually write in a notebook. It felt weird to let go of them, to let go of the idea of the kind of person I thought I could try to be. 

How to Pitch a Story

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I was recently published on IFB. I made it one of my goals in February to start pitching stories to larger publications and getting published more and more. They published my article on writing a content marketing plan for your blog. I have a few pieces at a few other websites that will go live in March. 

If you've ever had a genius idea for a post that just didn't really, well, fit with your blog, you might have thought that meant that the idea should just... go away. Wrong! Pitch that story to a larger website, like IFB or HelloGiggles. Not sure how to go about it? Here are some steps. 

1. Review the websites contributor policy. 

Most larger blogs that accept submissions have a policy for contributors. It's usually in the footer links of the website. This is HelloGiggles, as an example. This policy gives you instructions of how to submit a pitch, what they need, and what they want from any submissions. 

2. Have an idea. 

It's easy to just send out a bunch of emails saying, "Hey, I want to write something!" But before you hit send, make sure you're sending an actual, concrete idea. Even better, have part of an article written before you do anything. 

3. Write the email. 

Make sure that the subject line meets standards. (As an example, Rookie accepts submissions, but you have to use the correct subject line. Again, read those policies!) Introduce yourself and then write a brief paragraph outlining your idea. Why do you think it would be good for that website? How would it help readers? Be sure to include a link to your blog and any writing samples you have available. Double (and maybe triple) check your email for mistakes before you hit send. 

4. Play the waiting game. 

Waiting to hear back is the hardest part. I had the quickest turn around from IFB, but for others, it can take weeks. 

5. Get published... or not. 

Boom! Your pitch gets accepted. What now? Time to write! Sit down and write the post you promised. Send it in the format they asked for (most publications are OK with Word doc format). Make sure to include a brief bio at the end! And again, play the waiting game. They'll usually let you know of an approximate publish date. 

But wait, what if they pass on the pitch? Well, that sucks. But don't take it too hard. Move on and send the pitch somewhere else. So it wasn't right for one website... maybe there is another one it would be perfect for. Do some research and find it a home. A professor in college always said that if she ever got a rejection letter, she immediately submitted either the same piece or another piece to a different magazine because it kept the momentum going. No matter what: keep the momentum going! 

A Sensible Gift Guide for: Writers

Every year, without fail, someone gets me a notebook. 

It's a thoughtful, loving gift. They know I'm a writer. They know I love to journal. They put two-and-two together and, boom! A notebook! It's perfect. 

I have stacks of notebooks. Stacks that I can't use because I'm obsessively dedicated to using only one variety of notebook (Moleskines, lined, red or black online) for my journals and notes. I buy others myself, use them a bit and then reject them in favor of my favorite. 

Writers are persnickety about writing supplies. (Or at least, I am.) If you know a writer, if you love that writer, you can feel a little confused at to what to get them for a gift. Don't worry--I'm here to help. 

1. A Cute Comfy Sweatshirt

Listen, not all writers like or drink coffee. But plenty do. And there are tons of cute, comfortable sweatshirts out there featuring clever sayings. Like this one. Writers need comfortable clothes, that are cute enough to walk outside in without having to worry about it. It's practical; it's cute; and if you know your writer friend well enough, you can find the perfect one for their personality. 

2. Some cute decor. 

There are a few options here: I love this wall art from Nordstrom, this rug (!) from Society6, and these Scrabble pillows from Etsy. Beautifying a workspace can help with motivation, but it's something that a lot of people put off. 

3. A cookbook 

Eating is important. Even if your writer friend isn't well-versed in the kitchen, a cookbook is a great gift to encourage your friend to eat, be merry, and relax. I like this one from World Market because it's especially aesthetically pleasing

4. A cute, clever pin or accessory

Whether it's a scarf, a cute hat, some mittens, a necklace, or a pin, a cute accessory that will fit their style and personality is always a great gift. (This goes for everyone on your list!) I love this Coffee Please pin, but other ideas include burger print socks, a cactus themed tote bag, or a great scarf