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On Writing: The Importance Of Notes


It’s three o’clock in the morning when I open my eyes and grope for my cell phone on the bedside table. I hold the phone close to my face, squinting from the blinding light as I swipe my finger across the touchscreen and pull up the notepad app. Inspiration has just struck, and if I don’t write it down, there’s no way I’ll remember it when the new day starts. I type with one eye closed, trying not to go blind from the blaring screen light, before I shut the phone off, and fall back on the bed, closing my eyes.

I’ve learned over the years that notes are an important part of my writing process. I keep a full-time job, have two kids and a husband, so needless to say, I’m not always able to jump on my laptop to dive into my WIP whenever inspiration decides to show up. Instead, I have various tools I use to keep track of all the random ideas – everything from a new plot factor, to a great character name, or even something one of my existing characters should say. I write it all down as soon as it hits my brain, because if I don’t, when I do sit down to apply the muse, it won’t be there. I’ll scratch my head, and spend an hour saying to myself, “Now, what was it I was thinking about yesterday?”

I’ve learned that lesson way too many times; now I know better. I keep a notepad app on the home screen of my cell phone. I have notes on a bazillion topics stored there. If someone ever got ahold of my phone and looked through my notepad, they would think I was insane.

I also keep a physical notebook – three of them, actually. Each one is for a different purpose. I have a smaller one that I keep with me so when I’m out and about and I need something more than the notepad app, it’s there. I have a medium-sized one that stays by my computer. This is my everyday planner for whatever thoughts and ideas burst into my imagination. It’s a terrible mess, and no one could decipher it but me. My third one is a regular spiral notebook, and this one has all my story outlines in it – future, past, and present.

On my work desk, I keep sticky notes. These are for the day job, but I also use them for story ideas I want to jot down before I forget. Sticky notes are awesome for this, because not only do they come in fun colors, but then I can stick them right inside one of my notebooks and BAM! More notes.

I’m a huge fan of the Scrivener writing program, and it has a notes section for every project. Which. Is. Awesome. I absolutely use the hell out of this feature. You can keep notes on each scene, chapter, or general notes for the overall project. It is fantastic. I have so many notes for each story in my Scrivener world, that I scare myself sometimes. This isn’t even counting the character/setting sheets that also encourage you to keep notes and even add pictures for more reference. If I was ever going to fangirl over something, it would be for Scrivener.

I’ve also been known to grab a pen or marker and write notes on my hands and arms. Usually only in the most desperate of situations. I always transfer these notes to a notebook later, but for a day or two I get to walk around with things like “The Weasels And Warthogs Are The Bad Guys” or “Warp & Woof = Martin’s mother” or “All their names need to start with J” written on me.

This always leads to me having to explain my body graffiti to my husband and kids, which is met with eye rolls and “Mom, you’re so weird” comments.  And of course I always counter with, “Don’t write on yourself, it’s not good for you skin.”

Oh yes, I am a role model. . .and a master notetaker.

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