Get a Notebook,
A Response from David Almond

Get a notebook. Get some pens, pencils, crayons, colouring pencils. Start to write. Don’t worry. Don’t try to be perfect. You can’t be. Imperfection is at the heart of all creativity so allow yourself to be imperfect. Be free. The imagination is spontaneous and quick. Make marks on the paper. Move your hand. Writing is a physical act. Write words, sentences, paragraphs.

Write for the joy of it, for the freedom of it.

Draw pictures and maps to help you visualise what you are creating. Be messy. Don’t try to force yourself to write something clever or wonderful. If you have an idea for a story, then allow the story to grow and find its own shape. Yes, a finished story looks orderly, looks like it couldn’t exist in any other way, but when it is being created it twists and bends and shifts like a new creature coming to life. Allow the story to come through you. Allow yourself to be surprised by what appears on the page.

Experiment, scribble, doodle and play.

And remember: nobody needs to see what you are writing, unless you really want them to. The notebook is just for you. You can write in privacy and secrecy and discover the multitude of strange and wonderful stories that come from your own extraordinary imagination. You may discover a story that you really do want to organise, to share with others, to make public. If you do, that’s wonderful. That’s how I work. I experiment in my notebook, then go on to create something I want to make public. But I keep on scribbling and doodling. The beautiful messy notebook is at the heart of all my work. Most of it is never seen by anyone but myself. When one notebook is full, I get another. I keep on scribbling and experimenting.

The notebook is a seed bed, a treasure chest, a playground, a menagerie, a cabinet of curiosities.
David Almond