Note to Self

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.

About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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11 Responses to Note to Self

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    Knowing all the things you juggle and how many different areas you are productive in, I’m not surprised to learn that your “notes” are far more organized and methodical than anything I’m remotely using.
    Presumably we’ll all learn more about MY haphazard notes on Hound Day.
    But for now, suffice it to say that you’d freak out and collapse if you had to deal with the way * I * handle notes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      There are a lot of things you DO keep organized, like the number of posts here and on social media, the names of movies you’ve watched (except for details that are easily looked up), and recipes for no-fuss meals.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jeff Salter says:

        and don’t forget the number of miles my wife & I have walked during CoVid… the number of time I went to exercise (before CoVid shut down my access)… the amount of time it takes me to run errands, etc.

        Like

        • Patricia Kiyono says:

          Right. And the numbered stop lights.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jeff Salter says:

            well, I can’t claim credit for the stop light numbers. There’s about 30 lights along the main “strip” of Hwy 27… and the city fathers saw fit to number them for the convenience of the MANY tourists who come here for access to Lake Cumberland.
            The locals refer to them as the Ohio Navy.

            Like

  2. Actually, yes, I should have been more specific,I did mean notes for writing, but since you covered both, even better. I too, now make notes of what needs to be taken care of. It used to be for special times, guests, travel, holidays, but now, it’s gotten to non-daily/weekly chores.
    That is a very good program you have.It’s much like Celtx, which I have not used in years. I never could have put together a play as I did without it, but many use it for other written works. I suppose it depends on the complexity of a story,(or how distracted a writer is.
    Good job!

    Like

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Yes, I’m pretty sure that my ADHD is a good reason why Scrivener works for me. I’ve never been a linear storyteller. I start with the beginning, then write then end, and then try to fill in the middle. Sometimes I have to change the ending.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. diana-lloyd says:

    Patty, you’re the most organized person I know! Scrivener didn’t work well with my writer’s brain. Having little bits of story & research here, there & everywhere played into my anxiety so I had to give it the heave-ho. I keep a real paper notebook near me at all times. I write down story ideas, character names, doctor appointments, grocery items, and anything else I want to remember (I don’t always remember). There is something about the fact of physically writing things down that works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Aww, thanks, Diana! I get more anxious when I CAN’T see everything, so it helps to have bits of info visible and easily accessible. We all work differently!

      Like

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I agree with Jeff. The way you utilize notes is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

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