Tag Archives: Notebooks

N is for Notebooks (and Not)

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.

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(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.

Moving on.

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.

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Sayonara, paper.

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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Notebooks

Confession: If I could choose a store to have a shopping spree in, a good stationery store just might top my wish list.

Further confession: Honestly, I would accept Staples/Business Depot.

I love notebooks. I try not to buy more than I will use, but they make me so happy. A nice pen is always a great mood-booster, too, but notebooks…  *sigh*. A new notebook is just a tiny world of infinite possibility, isn’t it?

This is me trying to cut down:

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(AND wearing awesome argyle socks. Does that count as successful multitasking?)

I have more… my journal is in the bedroom, and the quotations notebook has gone off on a magical adventure someplace else. There’s another book for notes on things my friends like, and the one I keep in my purse in case inspiration (or a grocery-list related emergency) strikes. All we need is these, though, if we’re talking about writing.

I do all of my actual writing on the computer. My hands can’t keep up with my brain when I’m writing longhand, and there’s also the fact that I’m just going to have to type it up later, anyway.

For everything else, there’s notebooks.

I can’t make notes and plans on a computer. Tried it, hated it, couldn’t make my brain process the results. Something about having a pen in my hand opens my imagination up in a different way. I’m not saying that my method will work for anyone else, but I always like insights into how other people work, so I’m throwing mine out there. Ready?

Let’s start with the little purple one- it should be beside my bed for middle-of-the-night inspiration, so I don’t have to much up my journal with that stuff. Right now it’s blank. Moving on.

The big ones: The one with the green stripes on the left is for expanding on ideas that have been jotted down elsewhere- short stories get their outlines in there, and the back section has concept, plot, and character notes for another novel that I won’t be getting to for a while. I like to try to focus on one thing at a time (though short stories do make a nice break when other work is getting frustrating), so this is a place for the other ideas to rest and incubate, kept safe until need them. I would definitely forget them otherwise, even the good ones.

Next over is…  Oh, that’s my notes on Bound- plot notes, mostly, and random ideas that did or didn’t make it into the most recent draft. Brainstorming, notes I make while reading it over (AGAIN), notes I’ve had from my Beta readers, random doodles, and anything I just need to jot down while I’m working- wouldn’t want to forget that one horse’s name, or exactly how many mer-children there were running around that one night, would we?

The one with the orange stripes is very important, and needs to be replaced. It’s everything about my fictional world- geography, history, politics, laws and theories of the magic system, animals and plants that live there, geology, characters and their relationships, notes on names I might use some day, character arcs and plot planning, what’s going on elsewhere while my characters are living out their stories (but only if it might apply to future works. I’m not obsessive, guys, jeez). It’s useful, but it’s out-of-date. I started this book during the first draft of Bound, and so much has changed. Every main character has a different name from what he/she started with. Ditto for most towns, provinces, and one of the two principal countries involved. Rowan’s much more competent than she was in the beginning, Aren’s more eviler* at the beginning, especially if you factor in the prologue (which we’re not, of course…). It’s time for a do-over on this one.

The fancy blue one is for Torn what the zig-zaggy one was for Bound, which right now means plot notes, new characters, and notes from my read-through of what I got done during NaNoWriMo last November (which I don’t even count as a first draft, but it’s a fabulous outline/place to mess around and figure things out).

That’s it. That’s my system. For the actual writing I use my little acer netbook and Scrivener (which is a great writing program- anything that doesn’t organize in chapters and let me move scenes around drives me bonkers, now). Oh, but I use Yarny for short stories… I don’t know why, they’re just a whole different game.

As for this guy…

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…I don’t know what that one’s for yet. It’s my new favourite notebook (and has unlined paper, wheeee!), which means that I refuse to mark it up with notes or drawings. We’ll have to wait and see; I just wanted to show it off. LOOK HOW ADORABLE THAT DRAGON IS!

 

*really? Spellcheck will accept “eviler” as a word? Huh.


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