Writing Tip: Always carry a notebook.

My first writing teacher, Carol LaChapelle at the Newberry Library in Chicago, told us to carry a 3×5 inch notebook with us at all times. My notes from her class (6/12/00) read: “Get a tiny notebook to carry in your purse with pen that fits on.” Clearly, I was writing so fast, I didn’t get down her exact words, but I got the idea because I have carried a tiny notebook since. You never know when an idea may hit you that will get lost unless it’s written down. Then, if you wish, you can retrieve it and work on it later.

My notebook came in handy today as I attended a lecture at the Chicago Cultural Center given by Ty Tabing of the Chicago Loop Alliance. He was addressing the topic of “Loop: Illinois’ Largest College Town.” As a former college teacher and fairly recent Loop resident, I went because words like “college” bring to mind the best of my teaching years. As Mr. Tabing started to talk, I was excited to hear there were 24 colleges in the greater Loop area. Reflexively, I dipped into my purse-backpack and dug out my “writer’s notebook.”

I admit I’m a compulsive note taker; I managed four pages during his brief talk. Will I ever use the material he gave us? I don’t know. But just knowing there are 24 colleges and 65,500 students in my neighborhood gives me joy! And knowing that prospective businesses in the Loop area can find out from the Loop Alliance that there is life in the Loop after the commuters go home was really fun stuff to hear.

And why is there life down here at night now as compared to 20, even 10 years ago? It’s our first class theater district, residents living downtown (I had to tell Marv that when I got home–our friends say I dragged him down here), and the vibrant college community.

Now see, if I wouldn’t have had a writer’s notebook, I might have had to scribble on a some scrap of paper that would, for sure, get lost. But now, even when this notebook is filled, I can pile it next to the stack of others I keep in the back of a file drawer. You never know when I may want to go back and see where I’ve gone and what I’ve learned and what I may want to write about.

Life-long learning–always possible with a 3×5 notebook! And what a perfect day it can make.