Confession: I’m a sucker for a new notebook, especially if it’s a good price. Our dollar store gets a lot of the spiral-bound kind I like and sells them for $2, so I have way too many.
(the baby dragon one is not from the dollar store)
I mean, I adore $40 leather-bound notebooks, too, but can’t afford them and would never be able to actually write in them, so they’re kind of out.
The point is, I have a LOT of notebooks.
They’re great. Portable, pleasant to write in if you can find one that lies flat, great for journaling or brainstorming. The thing is… I’m starting to realize how limited their usefulness is.
Much as I love being able to write things out in pen or pencil, I have a hard time keeping notebooks organized. Even if I use one per project, it’s impossible to rearrange notes to put scenes in order, or to put more pages in where I need them later. Binders are better for this, but aren’t as portable as a notebook. And the other problem is that space is limited– I either spill over into another notebook (rare) or have a whole lot of wasted pages (frequent).
So though I love buying notebooks, I find myself shifting to other options. TECHNOLOGICAL options. I struggle with technology, but I can’t deny that some programs/apps have distinct advantages over paper.
EVERNOTE is a great program. There are a few like it out there, and everyone has their favourite, but I have no complaints with this one so far. I like that I can organize my notes into “notebooks” (hey!) to keep them organized, and can always add more as I need to, without worrying about space or leaving enough pages for future notes. I can access it from anywhere if I have my phone on me, so it’s perfect for those random moments when inspiration strikes while I’m out walking, or at the grocery store… or at church (sorry, pastor!).
Oh, and it’s free, unless you spring for the premium version. I don’t even know what that entails– I’ve been happy with the basic service.
They have other products, too. Skritch lets you write/draw/make notes on photos, there’s one that does digital handwriting, something with food, yadda yadda. I’m not so fancy with my computery things, but they’d be worth looking into if you like this program.
You’ve all heard me rave about Scrivener before, but let me tell you something: I had NO idea how much I was missing out on until I took Gwen Hernandez’s course. She’s the author of Scrivener for Dummies, and what I learned has me thinking that I might only be using notebooks for brainstorming in the future, because this program does everything else that I need.
Those index cards I’ve been using to organize scenes during revisions? It’s got ’em. I can colour code them, mark what stage of writing they’re at (notes, draft, revised, whatever), add keywords to track characters, show locations for each scene… whatever floats your boat, really. And it’s easy to move them around on-screen if I need to shake things up, stick a new scene in, or take one out.
The info panel lets me make notes for the scene or the whole project without interfering with the manuscript, play with those keywords, keep research and resources handy, add inspiration photos, and a lot more that I can’t do in a paper binder.
As for the writing itself, we’ve covered this before. Each scene is its own file in the binder, so I can move them around, jump to a different scene in one click if I need to fix something or find a reference, group them by chapter, find scenes by keyword (for, say, working on a single POV character’s chapters).
I can’t even begin to tell you all how much I miss just this one feature now that I’m editing in Word.
Scrolling sucks, is what I’m saying.
Scrivener’s not for everyone. Some people find it confusing, or just don’t like using it. Some are perfectly happy in Word, and that’s fantastic. I don’t understand it, but I fully support everyone in their software choices. But for someone who’s looking for an alternative to the frustrations of notebooks and binders (and scrolling, oy), it’s been the best tool I’ve found.
And… that’s it. That’s the only two tools I need to work toward replacing notebooks. I didn’t think I’d ever see the day when it would happen, but then, I thought I’d hate e-books, too.
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!
I’ll keep using binders for things like worldbuilding and series bibles, and I’ll keep a little sketch pad on-hand for doodling and drawing. But it sure looks like I’m going all computery for everything else.
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