Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Writer's Sketchbook

As a designer, I kept a daily sketchbook. I’d practice perspective, detail, shading, or just draw a subject that caught my fancy. 

As a writer, I keep a situational sketchbook. I jot down dialogue, settings, characters, conflicts, and specific details that intrigue me, and may find a place in a story. I hate to lose or miss anything juicy that I experience so I pop it in my writer's sketchbook to pluck later.

I just finished a three-day stint in the hospital, so of course I sketched my experience with words. In my writer’s sketchbook, I chronicle in bullet points. Here’s a peek:

  • Nurse #1 hates me. Her upper lip curls at me all snarly
  • No matter how you arrange the hospital gown, you always flash your hiney
  • All hospital meat is a weird version of turkey meatloaf
  • Nurse #1 has one eye bigger than the other
  • Hospitals are not for sleeping
  • The show NURSE JACKIE is not available on the hospital TV
  • Nurse #1 will abandon you on the commode for an hour – take reading material
  • Graveyard shift male nurses are the most entertaining
  • “I will ask your doctor. I will ask the nurse. I will make no decisions.”
  • Nurse #1 works more hours than anyone else
  • Flesh-eating tape is used for wound dressings
  • Beware of nurses who don’t wear athletic shoes
  • Nurse #1 smells like the 99 Cents store
  • There is some weird covenant against daily patient teeth-brushing
  • Catheter, I.V., Bedpan, oh my.
  • Nurse #1 will require mental leave time if we are together one more day

What does your writer’s sketchbook look like?


  1. OMG LESLIE I'm laughing so hard it hurts. Nurse number one will make an appearance in a future WIP I predict. And boy what a character. Fair game after leaving you in the bathroom for an hour.

  2. I agree with Lisa! What that heck with leaving you for an hour? I think each nurse should be required to be treated the way you're treated, including eating the questionable meat.

  3. Oh, Julie, I like your eye for an eye way of thinking.

    My goal in life is to make you laugh, Lisa. Nurse #1 will feel my wrath in print one of these days.

  4. Love this (though I'm sure it wasn't all sunshine and roses and basking in your notes)! Nurse #1 is begging to be a character in your book (if not, can I borrow the "one eye bigger than the other" trait for my villain?).

    As for hospital meat...I completely agree with you :) It's best to have family/friends sneak in take-out.

  5. Jess, you found the secret blog giveaway - the one eye bigger than the other prize. It's yours. :)

  6. I needed a good laugh today. Thanks.

  7. Reminds me somehow of Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar. ;) Glad you're out of the hospital.

    I'm a sucker for Moleskines (all different colors) and mine are filled with strange notes and words with no context. Like "yellow bird" or "glittering water." Usually I can't later remember what I was referring to. :)

  8. Great sketch book, Leslie. Mine doesn't have anything as colorful, although I sometimes doodle along the sides and my mood becomes the marginalia. Very interesting to look back and see what I was feeling on a day when everything in my book was a have-to-do list.

  9. LOL, Lee. I have post-its all over my mirror with words and statements. I'm so sure at the time I'll never forget why I wrote them, but then the big "huh" hits my brain when I look at them later.

    C. Lee - I'm an insane doodler. I never know what really goes on at the staff meetings at work since I'm busy "enhancing" the agenda handout with my art.

  10. Oh dear, I was simultaenously wincing for you and laughing at the same time. Hope you're feeling better now!

  11. G.F. - If I can ever get all the tape residue from the incision dressing off, I'll be perfect!

  12. Nurse #1 needs to quit or retire!! And it seems there's always a nurse #1 - even when everyone else in the building is amazing! Hope all is well! :)

  13. Jemi - Thanks for the good thoughts. Yes, Nurse #1 should go work for the DMV.

  14. This is a great idea! Way to have fun with less-than-fun circumstances, and get some good details for writing, too

  15. Thanks, Margo. It's the closest I'll ever get to being Maxwell Smart, secret agent.

  16. I've been so scarce the last couple months!!! Sorry you were in the hospital, but I love your sketches. What a great idea!