Documentation & the important role of notebooks

This documentation appeals to me, daily poems mostly informed by my daily life… perhaps this documentation is instead of a diary? I am writing it – it happened. Maybe some day someone will notice or be interested that I did those things.

Beccy Golding, July 2021

My daily poems on Instagram as @FridayIsPoetsDay often capture thoughts or moments from my day, though not always. It feels like documentation through poetry.

Documentation works for me as a way of noticing that I have really done stuff, achieved things – it’s easy for me to not notice or feel like I haven’t done anything positive for weeks on end – seeing lists ticked off and spreadsheets full of entries is like a metaphorical ding, ding ding.

pile of multi coloured and different size and shared notebooks, lying on a green carpet

The use of notebooks is instinctive rather than a calculated decision. Something about the size, shape, colour, texture, the line spacing etc tells me what the notebook’s job will be. This is probably why I have a drawer full of unused ones and yet still buy more. Notebooks in shops are so alluring and full of positive potential. I haven’t found exactly the right use for the ones in the drawer yet but they wait there patiently, full of hope.

I am a natural documenter, taking notes & snaps, keeping lists of quotes from family, friends & colleagues, etc. This is the instinctive administrator in me – my Radical Admin. I have tried to drop the impulse to be the archive keeper too – now it’s easier not to keep ticket stubs etc when sales are online, which helps. For nearly two decades I was the keeper of the family photos and paperwork, after my folks died, but more recently I’ve been able to share that role with my brothers, and discard stuff I’ve held onto since my parents’ deaths at the turn of the century.

Ways I am documenting my poetry/DYCP year:

colourful print outs of spreadhseets, lying aon a gree carpet

Excel spreadsheet

Recording aspects of DYCP grant

  • recording time spent, with categories such as courses, shows, mentoring etc
  • budget & money spent
  • list of donated prompts and when/if they’ve been used
large black scrapbook with colourful pages showing at edges, lying on a green carpet


Black, with white pages & additional multi-coloured pages inserted, A3

  • quick-reference guide and thinking-dump,
  • lists of short-form poetry rules
  • tips for ways into writing
  • list of bubbling thoughts so they don’t get away
  • brainstorm of Things That Have Given Me Ideas
  • some poets I have seen live/enjoyed reading
  • Instructions For Being A Poet & rituals for writing
notebook with black rubber cover and rainbow page edges, lying on a green carpet


Black rubberised cover, rainbow-edged pages, A5

  • practical
  • recording thoughts and themes
  • to do lists
  • diary of the garden retreat
rainbow sequineed notebook lying on a green carpet


Rainbow-sequinned, A5

  • recording mentoring sessions with Anita and related To Do lists
  • rainbows if stroked one way, silver if stroked the other
  • reminds me of an amazing sequinned jacket Anita owns
a pink cardboard folder, open to pages of typed writing, lying on a green carpet


Pink cardboard, A4

  • print outs of poems I’ve been working on
  • previous life as a folder for meeting notes when I worked at The Spark – still says that on the front and spine
3 black notebooks with red elastic page marker, lying on a green carpet

Notebook x3

Black n Red, red elastic, B5

  • all numbered, about to start #4
  • each page is numbered with space for date
  • contents page at front
  • I really like this size and format – these are my favourite ‘proper’ notebooks for doing ‘proper’ stuff in – I have a stack of 4 new ones, still wrapped, ready and waiting
  • notes and writing from writing courses
  • some free writes
1 green and 1 balck diary, both with stickers on them, lying on a green carpet

Diaries x2

Moleskin 18-month weekly notebook / diary planner, A5

  • dates of the week on left, lined page for notes on right
  • this format really works for me – my brother showed me his and I liked it
  • currently on crossover between July 2020 – December 2021 and July 2021 – December 2022
  • stickers my own
colourful A5 notebook embossed with Moomin images and landscape


Colourful, Moomins-embossed, A5

  • Christmas gift from my son
  • notes from clown courses & fooling sessions
Black, orange and red covered A4 notebook, lying on a green carpet


Easybook small squared paper

  • irregular morning pages/free writes
  • small squares & close spacing make pages look satisfyingly intense when complete – takes a perfect 20-30mins to write one page
  • tried to replace, price on Amazon £51
bright blue A4 exercise book, lying on a green carpet


Blue Silvine lined exercise book – one of a multi-coloured bundle of 10, used mainly for work, A4

  • first-draft poems rough book
  • poem-a-day roughs

black notebook with red ringbinding and coloured page dividers showing on the right side, lying on a green carpet


Wire-ring bound, black plastic cover, multi-coloured curved page dividers, lined, A5

  • unused as yet
  • purpose undecided

Notebooks x3

White/black/green velvet, A6 (not pictured)

  • live beside sofa and/or in bags for quick random thought-capturing
  • more useful if a pen is kept close by

See also…

  • desk drawer full of unused notebooks…