Keeping Organized - Writing With A NotebookWhen I talk to other writers, the one thing we really seem to have in common is the sense that we just don't have enough time to write. We have jobs, families, household duties, take care of aging parents and grandparents, volunteer...you name it, we do it.
The other thing we have in common - we often put our own need to write last.
My critique partner suggested I start using a notebook. I can always find few minutes to jot down a paragraph, a few lines of dialogue or ideas for the synopsis while waiting in line for kids to get out of school, soccer practice, boring PTA meeting etc.
And it really worked! A page in the notebook here, another there, voila! It might not sound like a lot, but when you're not getting anything written, and all of a sudden are getting a page a day written - that's a book in less than a year!
There's an added bonus. When I transcribe from the notebook to my word processing program - I'm already doing some revising and editing, making my rough draft not so rough. Not only am I doing the little things like adding more flavor to the prose already written, I'm also adding additional paragraphs. I end up having much more when I'm done than just what was written in my notebook.
My notebook writing often works best when I'm at the beginning of the book, when the ideas are more fresh, and I'm in that rush to get everything down on paper. It's also a lot easier for me to use my notebook when I'm in the proposal stage of writing, when I'm really formulating ideas (I'll have several going on at once).
The middle - not as easy to write in the notebook. Often, that's when I'll tuck in some research materials into my notebook. In fact, I now have a car bag for my writing. It contains a pen, my notebook and research materials I haven't had time to read, but are important to the book I'm writing. Here's a sideways picture of my car bag hanging on the doorknob to remind me to get it. (Why it's sideways, I'll never know. If I were a children's writer, I'd say I lived in a sideways house.)
When I'm at the end of a book, the notebook writing is easier once more. The end is in sight, I see the scenes clearly in my head, and I'm back to that rush of getting everything on the page.
- Decorate or get an unusual notebook. This will make it easily findable in the house, car, kid's backpack, whatever. And yes, I've run around like an idiot trying to locate my notebook.
- I'll often work on a few ideas at the same time. Use a new page for different ideas, and always write the Manuscript name at the top of the page.
- After you've transcribed from your notebook into your word processing program - draw a line though the text, so you don't keep running across it and not remembering what you've done and not done.
When I'm stuck in my writing, but I have notebook time, I try to think of this as an opportunity, rather than staring into space. I can use that time brainstorming. Play the whatif game with my characters. I've read that we're more creative when we're writing longhand than solely at the computer (which up until a few years ago was the only way I wrote) so use this time to whip out something unexpected.
I'm interested if you use a notebook or not, and if yes - how do you use it?