Keeping a notebook is a good way to survive as a writer. It encourages a greater sensitivity to the world, inside and out. It serves as a haven for new ideas until they are strong and mature enough to face the harsh light of rational judgement. It also provides a quiet place for a writer to catch breath and begin writing. This text is for the writer in everyone, however lost, however buried. Ralph Fletcher takes a probing look into the nature of a writer's notebook, examining what it is, how writers use it, and what makes it tick. It explains why writers like Naomi Shihab Nye and Dorothy Allison consider their notebooks so important to the work they create. It also includes snippets from Fletcher's notebook, where he reveals the "displayed self" of a writer whose innermost workings he knows best. To Fletcher, keeping a writer's notebook is as natural an activity as breathing, so he has organized his book in a way that illuminates two basic aspects of the process. "Breathing In" refers to the way the notebook can serve as a receptacle for selected insights, lines, images, dreams, and fragments of conversations. In this way it helps with paying closer attention to the personal world.
"Breathing Out" is intended to suggest the notebook as an ideal place to use what has been collected and spark original writing. The text is intended for new writers as well as those who may have once loved to write but have lost the spark along the way. It should help with finding a natural rhythm for using a notebook and in the process, starting to live the life of a writer.