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Writing a Book One Note at a Time

Novel Incubator writer Renee Walsh shares how she was able to write a book by writing in her journal, a phone pp, or on Post-It notes.

By Renee Walsh

November 03, 2022

The Fantasy

For years, whenever I thought about writing a book, I imagined myself sitting at a desk in a small cabin on a lake (like maybe one of these). With endless hours stretched out before me, I would produce page upon page, giving my work my undivided attention. It would be just me, my laptop, and some really good coffee. In this imaginary world, writing would be easy, almost effortless. The reality is, if I had waited to find myself in this situation, I would have never gotten any words down on the page. My novel would still be in my head and not printed in a binder on the table next to me.

The Reality

Like most people, I don’t always find myself in an idyllic setting to get my writing done. I’m often busy at work, on the sidelines of a ball field, or at a social event. But as long as I have something on which to jot down my ideas—a journal, a phone App, or even Post-It notes—I can get my writing done. Writing in smaller chunks is convenient, and it also makes the process of writing, especially about difficult topics, a lot less intimidating.

I recently read in The New York Times that Matthew Perry wrote his soon-to-be-released memoir using the Notes app on his phone. He sometimes limited the amount of time he spent writing because “it was hard stuff to face.” I couldn’t help but think that maybe his approach, chipping away, piece by piece, at something much bigger is an approach that also works for me.

Little Snippets Can Really Add Up

I drafted many scenes of my manuscript using my Notes app. Some started out as scribbled ideas on random scraps of paper. And those little snippets can really add up. I’ve written six drafts of my young adult novel using this approach, and at 70,000 words, it seems to be working for me. And in case you were wondering, yes, I wrote the first draft of this article using the good old Notes app on my phone.

Renee Walsh previously wrote for a lifestyle public relations house in New York City and currently teaches reading and writing workshops to elementary-