by Stephanie Morrill
A writer asked me a really great question: How do you keep track of all these good questions [for character development] and examples from other writing books?
My short answer - and this is my answer to many organization questions- is a 3-ring binder.
Ah, so simple. So beautiful.
When you open my Writing Notes binder, this is the first thing you'll see:
I keep notebook paper in the front for two reasons. One is so I can jot down writing quotes that I like. The other is because I grab this notebook when I'm headed to writing classes. Keeping paper in there ensures that I'll have something on which to take notes. After the notebook paper, you'll find the notes I've taken organized by subject:
I have dividers for: characters, story, editing, pitching/proposals, marketing/business/internet, resources. (Where I have a list of things like writing contests,or handy websites.
Of course I also have a lot of electronic notes, especially now that I'm a girl with a laptop. So I have a folder on my computer called "Classes and Notes" where I keep stuff as well. I can be a little obsessive about organization, so for a long time I tried very, very hard to make all my notes physical or all digital. I finally came to the conclusion that it didn't make sense time-wise, so I would just have both. Kinda like having a Kindle but buying books too, you know?
As for how to remember it all ... it's impossible. Which is why I like to reread my favorite craft books every year or two. I loved what Erica Vetsch said on the Go Teen Writers Facebook group. "The beauty of writing fiction is that you never learn it all, you've never arrived, and there's always something new to learn or something to try or to take deeper or higher."
The way you improve at writing isn't by studying it more - as helpful as craft books can be. It's by doing it more.
I'm an organization nerd, so I have to ask. Anyone want to share how they organize writing notes?
Tomorrow I'll be posting the winners from last round's contest and some of the winning entries. The judges both commented to me that this was the strongest batch of entries they'd seen and how impossible it felt to pick the winners. Great job, guys!