How Great Novelists Use Notebooks

There was a neat article in the Wall Street Journal the other day about the writing habits of some well-known novelists. I’m sure it will come as no surprise that many of them mention notebooks!

Orhan Pamuk: “Mr. Pamuk writes by hand, in graph-paper notebooks, filling a page with prose and leaving the adjacent page blank for revisions, which he inserts with dialogue-like balloons.”

Hilary Mantel, who just won the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall: “She’s an obsessive note taker and always carries a notebook.”

Michael Ondaatje, best known for The English Patient: “Booker-prize winner Michael Ondaatje’s preferred medium is 8½-by-11-inch Muji brand lined notebooks. He completes the first three or four drafts by hand, sometimes literally cutting and pasting passages and whole chapters with scissors and tape. Some of his notebooks have pages with four layers underneath.”

Edwidge Danticat: “She writes first drafts in flimsy blue exam notebooks that she orders from an online office supply store. She often uses 100 exam books for a draft. “The company I order from must think I’m a high school,” she said. She types the draft on the computer and begins revising and cutting.”

Amitav Ghosh: “Mr. Ghosh, who is now working on the sequel to “Sea of Poppies,” which is part of a trilogy, is particular about everything from his pen to the type of paper he writes on. He insists black ink Pelikan pens are the best, and buys white, lined paper from a French manufacturer. “If you work on paper so much, you get obsessive about even the spacing of the lines,” he says. “I need them to be fairly widely spaced.””

It’s always fascinating to get a peek behind the scenes at how people work– I just wish they’d been a bit more specific about brands, where they buy their supplies, etc.

Read more at How to Write a Great Novel: Junot Diaz, Anne Rice, Margaret Atwood and Other Authors Tell –

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