FWE: Keeping the Books 3 Comments

Today’s exercise is twofold: get organised and (now and then) boost your writerly ego.

In possibly my only ever act of organisation, I’ve been keeping a book of writing and editing records for over a decade: submissions, publications, rejections, achievements, feedback (positive and critical) that stuck with me — everything I’ve ever tried as a writer. I don’t think I’ve ever shown it to anybody. It looks like this:


On the practical side of things, this book helps me keep track of submissions (to make sure I don’t accidentally submit to two places at once). When I contribute to a journal, I note down the date, the name of the journal and the name of the poems/pieces; then, when I hear back, I draw a tick or cross next to each sub. For example, here’s a page from way back in 2006:


Note my huge list of subs to VW on that page. Let’s face it: most of these submissions pages are littered with little crosses. That’s all right; rejection is good for the soul (and proof that I’m trying!). Furthermore, this is where the nice pages come in: I note down publications and achievements, no matter how minor. Writers are prone to introspection; when I wonder what I’m doing with my life, I turn to this notebook to see how far I’ve come since 2003.

You may already have electronic records — excellent — but making your own hardcopy scrapbook, like seeing your writing in print, has a certain special something.

Invest in the highest quality notebook you can; you want this to last. I use coloured pens and stickers … but you don’t have to be as naff as I am. Like a year eight art journal, this is all about self-expression. Remember: you don’t ever have to show this to anyone else (unless you want to).

Use every second page: title the first “submissions”, the next “publications and achievements” and the next “performances” — or whatever is most relevant to your creative practice. On the subs place, give as much detail about each submission — and remember to tick or cross when you get a response. On the “good news” pages, go nuts: the date, the publication, if you got paid, and so on. You could reserve extra pages for your writerly goals or a list of magazines to aim for.

You don’t have to only include big successes. Here are some things you could include on the free pages:

  • keep a record of the projects you finish
  • keep a star chart to reward yourself for writing every day for a month
  • paste in a photocopy of that poem you had published in the uni magazine
  • write down some feedback from your favourite English teacher
  • staple in the compliments Voiceworks sent you about that short story
  • include a photo of yourself reading at your first ever open mic.

As the years go by, keep track. It’s like a Book of Shadows, but for your writing career. Rely on it when you feel like a hack or you are trying to remember why you’re surviving on two-minute noodles. If you keep writing in the book, then it’s worth it to keep writing.


Zenobia Frost is a Brisbane-based poet and arts journalist. She serves as Cordite’s assistant editor as well as a poetry editor with Voiceworks. She tweets @zenfrost.

  • http://Website Katelin

    Yes, I really love this.

    • Zenobia Frost

      Thanks, Katelin!

  • http://luna-desu.blogspot.com luna

    That’s brilliant, I’ve always favoured hardcopies, something that will always last.
    Thank you for sharing

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