Friday, 2 September 2011

A Writer's Notebook - Lesson Learned

Today, I'm taking some time to clear some papers. They pile up, and breed like rabbits somehow, and since my attention span to clear them is very low, I don't get far. Anyway, as I was going through all these papers, amongst receipts and print-outs, there are piles of notes, brainstorms, scene fragments, character notes etc. 

It made me realise that it was totally inefficient to write these on notepads or scraps of paper, because it makes them all that much harder to organise, which means chances of me finding it when I need it are quite small. I do keep a writing journal, but I usually use A4 notepads for random brainstorm that may or may not go anywhere, only because journals are more expensive, so it feels like "waste" to write anything in them. However, I've come to realise that I do look A LOT MORE at my writing journals. I flip back and forth, consider ideas I have jot down, and that sparks a trail of thought that leads somewhere else, or makes me realise that I have already thought of something. 

So from now notepads and scraps of papers except in emergency. It's all going in writing journal, staying in one place, and making the whole organisation far better. I hope.

How do you maintain your scraps of notes and pieces of information? Are you super-organised, or thrive in chaos? Or in-between and hope for the best?


  1. I've been doing just that today! My writing space looks completely different. I use journals for lots of things, notes/actions when I don't want to be distracted, character sketches, brain storms, writing things out when they don't seem to work, free writing and more... I've started doing an index which I copy and put in a file, so I can flick through and browse... wouldn't be without my journal

  2. I have relatively inexpensive lined A4 pads, which I use one at a time to write in.

    However, after reading your post, it occurred to me that after I've written something in my notepad, I will type it into the computer file I'm working on next time I switch it on. On the whole, that probably seems organised, but it's not a process I do deliberately.

  3. Louise,

    I use my personal journal regularly, which often gets things about writing, but I also keep a separate writing journal so that it would be easier to flick through. So now I just have to stop writing everywhere else. :P


    I think that's what I'm going to do - try and consolidate mountains of notes, and add what I want in my journal. I don't think I will type them, because I don't look at old documents either :P

  4. Dolly,
    I know exactly what you're talking about with the scraps of paper to jot things down on. I have found that recording quotes and ideas down in a journal definitely helps me keep order with my writing endeavors. I only use scrap paper for stuff I plan to throw out, at least most of the time. ;) Journaling can really help a writer stay organized!

    I have chosen your post, A Writer's Notebook-Lesson Learned, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day for all things journaling on Twitter; I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in Refresh Journal:

    #JournalChat Live is Thursdays at 4 CST/2 PST for all things journaling on Twitter.

    Thanks again for sharing your journaling/writing life!

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    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition

  5. Dolly, I live in a state of perpetual chaos. I don't thrive in it, I need to be somewhere between chaos and organization but my life gravitates toward chaos and when I organize everything explodes around me right back into chaos. It seems to be my destiny.

    I quit writing notes a long time ago when I lost several years of notes in a traumatic experience. I need to start writing notes IN A NOTEBOOK again because I am forgetting stories and threads that I want to do something with. Again, the need for some level of organization.

    Good blog post.



  6. Over the last six months or so I've been much more faithful about carrying a small journal and capturing random thoughts. I also use a service called Evernote to capture and organize all sorts of notes when I'm on the computer. I feel better about myself as a writer when I jot things into a sleek moleskin, but a cheap spiral notebook works for me just as well - often better, because I put less pressure on myself to write something intelligent. I can scribble or tear pages out with no remorse.

  7. I haven't used a notebook for notes in years...mainly because I am literally working on or near a computer 90% of my waking hours, so it's been natural for me to go pretty much paperless. For probably nearly 20 years now, I've had an "ideas" folder in the Documents folder on a disk, then thumb drives, and now an SD card that goes with me all the time. So up until a few months ago, whenever I had an idea, character note or anything to jot down, I'd create a new document and stick it in my ideas folder. I refer often to that folder, even now, and add to the docs as I come up with things.

    Recently I discovered Evernote (not affiliated in any way except being a very happy user), and I can access that from anywhere. Ironically, the way you organize notes in EN is in "notebooks" I have virtual notebooks for my idea files now. :-)

    Good luck with the organizing!