Notes From The Past

November 24, 2009 at 5:11 am (drafting, Planning) (, , )


At the moment I have seven notebooks on my desk – and many bits of paper with various things scribbled on them.  Beside my bed I know I have at least three notebooks and on the table and fridge I have several more.  Most of them are old and tattered with pages falling out because I’ve torn so many pages free.  One of those pages is now floating loose across my desk and has quite a good outline for a new writing project on it.

I possibly should file these things but strangely enough things put in my filing cabinet tend to stay there and they never actually get acted upon.  Bits of paper floating across my desk are far more likely to float to the surface and should they do that just when I’m ready for an idea…  More importantly, I know when I’m looking for something it is on my desk and I will find it if I just turn over enough pages.

One of these notes that floated to the surface today has a couple of things written on it.  On one side I have a list of names, some with meanings attached to them.  Beside that, but written upside down, I have a list of rankings that I was thinking of using in a story.  Turn the paper over and I have another list of names, most of which are crossed out and underneath that I have the very useful note:  Arrives, Fights, Flash-back, End of Fight, Move on.  Fantastically useful.

Actually it is a fairly important bit of paper and now that I have found it again I’m going stick it in my dictionary so I don’t lose it.  The notes were written over a two day period as I was working on other things and I just pulled the paper out of my pocket and scribbled down the ideas as they came to mind. They all relate to one of my WIP’s that wasn’t really working the way I needed it to.  I was mulling things over in my mind and random ideas kept popping out so I was just adding them wherever there was space on the paper.

Should I have all my notes for one project together?  Probably but I’d rather spend my time writing the draft then filling the paperwork and if I desperately need one of my notes I know I will find it sooner or later.  Besides, just by writing it down I tend to remember the most important parts.

Question to the writer’s out there:  Do you organise your notes or do you let them float across the desk?

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12 Comments

  1. Sandy Ackers said,

    I’m always trying to organize my notes and always failing. They prefer to float across my desk, in and out of various notebooks, and all over my apartment.

    –Sandy Ackers
    Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I like to think of it as organised chaos. The notes are there and I will find them eventually. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Carol Kilgore said,

    Like you, if my notes are in a drawer, I never look at them again. Mine are on my desk – some written in a notebook, others on bits of paper or stickies. these float or go between the pages of the notebook. The one exception to this is a list of names I keep for second and third string characters. It’s in a handy sprial notebook I acquired years ago, square with rigid front and back covers. It’s a hand’s reach away.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I had a notebook of names at one point. Then I started using names dictionaries or the whatever floated into my head and seemed to fit method of naming characters. I still have that notebook somewhere I’m sure.

  3. Carolyn Yalin said,

    I try to organize, but sometimes over-organize and can’t find things.

    My new method – one notebook only! So far, so good.

  4. Nikki Mantyla said,

    My laptop files are organized, but I still have that happen where I’ve forgotten about some notes I typed until I browse through the computer files and open to something helpful. It’s true that notes from the past can surface at just the right time!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I love going through backups of my computer files. It is amazing how many writing projects I have begun or put notes together for that I have never followed through with. Thanks for sharing your comment.

  5. Sevvy said,

    Everyone knows real writers aren’t organized!

    Just kidding. I at least keep the majority of my writing notes in actual notebooks, so it isn’t too hard for me to find stuff. I might have to flip through a couple of pages until I find what I’m looking for though. My real problem is my computer files, which are not organized at all. Someday maybe I’ll sit down and take care of that.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      My problem with computer files was that I insist on calling the files after character names because that’s what I remember and then I change the character name in the story. Thanks for the visit.

  6. Mickey Mills said,

    I use a program called “Freemind” to organize my characters, locations, plots and subplots. I also use it to outline the piece whether its short fiction or a full length work. each Project has its own Freemind.

    It’s freeware in the open source world.

    If you are interested, google “Freemind”

    When I moved a lot of paper, I used the sequential stack of chaos filing system.

    Being paperless is da bomb. I’m loved by trees everywhere.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Thanks for sharing this advice. I don’t think I’ll ever give up paper. I print everything though I use both sides of the paper and recyle when I’m done. The computer is fantastic but for long periods of reading or serious editing, I need the paper format.

  7. Meaghan Douglas said,

    I’m a disorganised e-file type of writer – always running into trouble with different versions of files on different hard drives and USB keys. It’s something I’m trying to get under control, but…

    Lately, I’ve been finding some surprising bits and pieces. 🙂

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