Our question of the week came from our Friday Fox: Do you write notes? Have you tried taping and transcribing them? What works for you?
I am always taking notes to remind myself about things I’m told, simply because I can’t trust myself to remember details. Thanks to my mother’s habit of never throwing away anything, as well as freebies from conferences I’ve attended, I have hundreds of little note pads all over the house, as well as sticky notes. I’ve got large tablets ready to take notes whenever I’m attending a workshop, watching an instructional video or writing down instructions for my hubby’s upcoming medical procedures. My notes are always written – I’ve never taped notes to myself. This could be because a tv character I detested was always raising a mini recorder to her face and saying “note to self.” It could also be due to my habit of losing things, and a recorder is one more thing to lose. I HAVE recorded lectures on my phone, but now that I’ve upgraded to a new phone, those lectures are no longer accessible (I neglected to store them “on the cloud”). Anyway, after I write things down, I usually try to put them somewhere easily accessible, and in a spot that I’ll remember. If the note deals with an upcoming event, I’ll paper clip or tape it to the calendar. If it’s something that I need to attend to in a timely manner, I’ll tape it somewhere that I’ll see it – a kitchen cupboard, on the mantle, or even onto my laptop. I know that if it’s lying on a flat surface, it will soon be covered up and forgotten.
I have a specific notebook for each group I belong to, so that if I want to go back and look up my notes from a speaker, they’re all in one spot. When my mom started to have lots of medical issues I got a special notebook to detail dates, names, medications, and other details about her various maladies. A few months ago I gladly relinquished that notebook to my brother, since he now lives close by and can transport her to appointments. And I started one for my husband’s many medical adventures.
Once I started working on this post, it occurred to me that the question might refer to our manuscripts, rather than daily life. I know authors (usually those who are extremely prolific) who use voice-to-text software, but I tend to work better when I can SEE my story unfold. And while some people use white boards or Kan-ban boards, I outline either on a sheet of paper or an electronic document (depends on what’s handy when inspiration strikes) and then enter those notes directly in my manuscript folder. I use a program called Scrivener, and one of the many things I love about it is that I can keep research and brainstorming with my manuscript in one file.
Here is a screen shot of my current Work-in-progress, otherwise known as a WIP. Since I’m not quite ready to share the actual manuscript, I’ve moved this chapter to another document for now. On the left you see all the sections (chapters) I have so far. I can add more and move them around as I wish. The colored dots next to the sections indicate the point of view (POV) in that section. Right now, it looks like I need to add more sections from the male point of view. On the right side, the little index card at the top right is a spot for me to put a short description of what happens in that section. This allows me to see everything I’ve got when I go to the cork board, which displays all the “index cards” from each section. In the yellow rectangle, I can make notes about things I need to remember: names, ages, places, or stuff I need to edit or add later.
The left side of the screen is called the Binder. Below the chapter descriptions, you can see there are places to flesh out each character, which I do when working on a longer piece. Under that is Places, where I can save information (including maps and photos) about different locations referred to. There’s the formatting section (I haven’t much used that part, since I send my stories to a publisher), a section for Notes, and a section for section for reference materials.
This program helps me to keep stuff organized in one place while allowing me to write without piles of stuff around me. Hubby is always threatening to call 1-800-GOT-JUNK to get rid of my things. I tell him he’s welcome to do so, if he manages to outlive me.