Posted by: nancyisanders | July 12, 2019

Writer’s Journal

Jane Austen for Kids official cover

As many of you know who follow my blog, my newest nonfiction for young readers was released this year, JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS.

What you may not know is that this book took me over two years to write and during that time, I kept hand-written journals to track my research, brainstorm ideas, and write first drafts. (See the stack of 7 composition notebooks in the center on the top bookcase? Those are the journals I filled up in my 2-year journey!)


Why hand-written? In this modern age when there are amazing computer programs out there to help a writer stay organized and keep all your information at your fingertips?

For several reasons!

#1 I knew I would be married to my devices and staring at computer screens for hours upon hours upon hours. I opted to delegate specific tasks to hand-writing in journals to promote my physical health. This gave my eyes a break from the glare of the screen. This gave my wrists a break to avoid carpel tunnel. This gave my back a break to allow me to sit somewhere other than my computer chair and desk. This even gave me a mental break because I could literally go unplugged on a short vacation here and there and still have my main project notes with me.

#2 Call me sentimental, but since I was writing about the great literary giant Jane Austen who had to write everything she did out by hand, I just wanted to use this experience as part of the whole soaking up process of getting to live, eat, and breathe (and drink tea!) with my subject.

#3 As a children’s writer, I love to “play.” I think it helps me stay connected to the kids and young readers who will be reading my books. So keeping hand-written journals also gave me the freedom to “play” with my pages. I decorated with scrapbooking supplies as my creative heart led me each different day. I used markers and staples and glue and tape and scissors just like kids do when they make a research project.

One of the amazing benefits I discovered along the way was that as I stepped away from the computer to add content to my journals, I could literally feel a different part of my brain unlock and open up. My creative juices at these times flowed in absolutely amazing ways!

In the posts ahead and I want to share a little bit of my journey with you about my experience–I even kept my key research notes in hand-written journals! Shocking, isn’t it?! I was shocked at how well it worked and at how rich of an experience it was.

I hope you might be inspired to do this as well if you haven’t yet. Or if you already keep hand-written project journals, I hope you’ll get some ideas to take your experience to the next level.

(Here’s a close-up of my 7 journals to give you a general idea of each one’s content)




  1. Hi Nancy. I am looking forward to these posts!

  2. I’m looking forward to your researcher’s journey, Nancy!

  3. I appreciate your sharing this, Nancy! Your journals sound fascinating and creative.
    I do most of my planning with paper and pencil! There’s just something about seeing it all laid out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: