There was a recent article in PC Magazine, titled Beyond the Napkin: Organizing your Writing Notes, about writers and how they take, organize, and store their writing notes. It’s a really crucial task for all writers, and probably one we don’t think about or talk enough about. Understanding your own personal note taking process is crucial to successfully writing what you want to say and remembering what you want to write.
I personally would just like to share the article for the title alone- a clever tribute to the well documented history of writers who are known to jot down their best writing ideas on a napkin at a restaurant, bar, or anywhere else you may be able to find a napkin. But, in all reality, there is so much more to the art of note taking.
In the article, author Jill Duffy asked four other writers how they take and preserve their notes. Not surprisingly, the responses were all completely different. All of these successful writers have completely different ways of keeping and taking their notes- from saving them in the note pad on their cell phone, to emailing notes in the subject line of an e-mail (making the email the writers to do list), to just a simple pen and paper, or to not even using notes. One author even has different strategies depending on the type of writing she is doing, but realizes that she often starts with making notes just in the main document itself that she is currently working on.
All of these different methods work well. The one consistency is that all the writers have a method in place for note taking and keeping that works for them and their writing style. It’s important for all writers to master the art of note taking for themselves. All writers should at least have a known method/understanding of what works best for them when it comes to taking and storing notes, even if the method is not to use it often. The hard part is finding what works for you. Sometimes we all need a little motivation to force ourselves to find that method. It can be tedious task with several trials and errors. However, we all know what the cost of that lack of motivation could be the loss of a great idea. We have all stared at their computer screen, or note pad, rattling our brain to remember that awesome, revolutionary idea you had earlier. Do not let it happen to you twice, three times, four times, or five. Let’s just not let it happen ever again. If it has never happened to you and you do not have a note taking/keeping method yet than all I can say is lucky you. But I will also tell you that it will certainly happen to you one day- the one time it matters the most. Life can be funny that way. If you are writer, you must have a method for note keeping and taking. You never know what idea or inspiration will be the basis for your next writing piece, but as long as you have a method to keep track of your ideas no matter where you are, you will never have to worry about forgetting your next big break ever again. Write on.