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a new-ish short book?

It started out with my rummaging through my partially filled journals and notebooks, looking for a barely used journal so I could tear the pages out and start anew.

journals on shelf
A shelf of my old notebooks and journals

My plan? I don’t even remember what I planned to use it for. Some new project that required its own space.

I skimmed the first few pages. Letters to angels.

The Journey


I can just rip these pages out and…

Wow, this is longer than I expected.

What’s this after the angel letters?

A book?

A book I don’t remember starting or writing.

But here it is and it’s fun, playful. I like it. And it’s coming back to me. Yeah. I oughta do something with this. Finish it. 99 cents on Amazon? Or a free giveaway?

A Little Book is Coming

So, that’s it. A little book is coming.

I’ll just type it in today during my Get Your Writing Done class (yes, the facilitator/teacher gets to get her writing done as well!).

my short book in draft form
A few pages from the notebook. It even has a doodle/diagram!

And I’ll see what’s missing, maybe make an outline (looks like it doesn’t have one of those). Or decide to just use the first of the three topics–permission to write. I can make that the whole book…I kind of like that idea as well. Then I only need to revise! No need to add more chapters. And I love the simplicity.

And the synchronicity! Just two days before writing this post I taught a new, first-time-ever (for me anyway) workshop called “Permission to Write” for the Cumberland Public Library. I’m not even sure whether I came up with that title or if Melissa Chiavaroli, the librarian and reference services coordinator, came up with it. And yet, here’s a little book that explores that very topic for most of its current pages.

What’s Hiding in Plain Sight on Your Shelves?

New ideas are wonderful, but are there some oldies sitting on your bookshelves or in a drawer waiting to be rediscovered?

little notebook for short book
The little notebook with the first chapters of my short book

There’s great value in reading our own journals and notebooks, seeing what we find. When we view it with fresh eyes, we may just see its promise and possibility. And it may not be that far from done, either.

Maybe it becomes a short book, or a blog post or article. Maybe you just want to type it up and send it to a friend. Or post it on Facebook as a love letter to humanity. By the way, Fridays in my Facebook group, Write and Create with Lisa Tener, are reserved for sharing a piece of writing.

Don’t Make this Mistake

While we’re on the subject of journals and notebooks, I feel inspired to make a little public service announcement:

In a recent podcast interview with Patricia Raskin, pioneer of positive living, I mentioned that someone once suggested to me that it’s very freeing to burn your journals. “What a great idea,” I thought. How freeing!

Not exactly brilliant advice for a writer.

Impulsively, I made the mistake of throwing out a bunch of my old notebooks and journals and came to regret it when I wanted to go back and write about details from my life–college (!), two trips to Japan with Japanese b-school classmates, a visit to a friend in The Gambia, Africa, the transition to adulthood and a first job in San Francisco (not in that order, by the way).

Your old notebooks and journals can help jog your memory and bring up forgotten events, as well as specific details that bring them to life.

What’s in Your Old Notebooks and Journals?

Tell me: What’s on your bookshelf and in your drawers that might be calling for a revisiting? Go searching and come back to this post to let us know what you found! OR maybe you already know of a project you’d like to return to. In the comments, share one thing you’ll do to revisit that project today.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Susan Kimmerlein says

    Good Morning, Lisa!
    In getting caught up on some email, I saw this post about what is lurking in old journals. I appreciate the advice regarding burning your journals. I’ve journaled –not as frequently of late– since I was 10 years old. I’ve wondered at times what to do with them. Let me family read them when I’m gone? Take them with me when I’m gone? Hide them? Still not sure, but I will NOT destroy them. I appreciate, also, the upbeat reporting of your discoveries and plans for a little book. Your enthusiasm and modeling of how a writer operates is inspiring. Thank you for that. I’ve been a wanna-write-wallflower, and I need to see babysteps in action. Again, thank you.

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