What do real writer's notebooks look like?

Writers And Their Notebooks: Gabriel Evans

Aug 21, 2022

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you’ll know I’ve been researching the use of writer’s notebooks out in the wild (i.e. the world outside the classroom).

I’m convinced that the more us teachers learn about how these tools are used authentically, the better we’ll be able to use them in our classrooms.

I’ve been asking published authors all about how they use their notebooks and have so far been lucky enough to learn from fabulous writers such as Meg McKinlay, Lian Tanner and Katrina Germein. (You can check out some of my other interviews here).

I’m thrilled to now be able to add award-winning author and illustrator Gabriel Evans to that list of generous creators.

As I’m sure you’ll already know, Gabriel Evans is the talented author/illustrator behind Norton and the Bear, Norton and the Borrowing Bear, A Human for Kingsley and his most recent book, A Job for Kingsley.

With his absolutely gorgeous style, Gabriel has also illustrated countless books for other writers. Some of his works include CBCA shortlisted books Blue Flower written by Sonya Hartnett and Little One by Jane Godwin.

I happen to love Gabriel’s illustrations so much that I’ve nabbed myself a couple of his originals to brighten up the Oz Lit HQ office. (Check out his Etsy page if you’re interested in adding a slice of his goodness to your walls).


In this interview, Gabriel generously lets us in on his process for creation, including sharing insights related to how he uses his writer’s / illustrator’s notebook.


How do you use your notebook?

Notebooks – or should I say in my instance, sketchbooks – are a visual way to brainstorm with myself. This is the place I start all my stories and explore where they’ll go.


What types of things do you write in your notebook?

Normally I draw characters and develop scenarios and situations that they may be involved in. This can often, but not always, lead to some sort of story emerging.


Do you draw in there?

Although I’m both an author and an illustrator, I’ve always been an illustrator first and foremost. This means that my notebook is full of visual questions and ideas. However, I do also have notes and dialogue in my sketchbook to help construct a story.

Gabriel Evans is a talented author/illustrator from Western Australia.


Where do you get the ideas for your notebook?

Normally my ideas flow best when I sit with my notebook and let my brain flit around and occasionally land on an idea. There’s no real rhyme or reason for how ideas are pinned down, they just happen and I do my best to record them when they appear.  


What do write in your notebooks vs directly onto your computer?

My notebook is very much a brainstorming place. I don’t write the story in my sketchbook, but I do often include notes and dialogue that accompany a picture. When I’m writing the actual story, I’ll use my computer to lay out the thoughts and notes I compiled in my sketchbook.


What does your notebook look like?

My sketchbook is a messy place full of loose drawings and meandering text. I’ve attached a page from my current sketchbook.

Inside Gabriel Evans' writer's notebook


How often do you use your notebook?

Every day. It’s with me in the studio and is easily portable during road trips.


What advice do you have for young writers and illustrators?

Develop a practice of recording your thoughts and ideas in a notebook or sketchbook regularly. You may think you’ll remember an idea later, but there’s a good chance that idea will be lost in the whirlwind of your mind.


What are your contact details (if teachers want to get in contact with you for school visits etc)?

I love visiting schools to talk about making picture books.

Schools in Western Australia are welcome to get in touch with me directly via my email: [email protected] or book me through the Literature Centre [email protected]

For bookings outside of WA you can contact Booked Out Speakers Agency at [email protected]



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