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17 February 2010


Organising Writing Projects
When I first started writing I didn't think I needed a system. Going out to work every day seemed systematic enough and I wanted to just write. Which is fine. But if you are like me you may suddenly remember something you wrote aeons ago but have an idea about how you can develop it, or you need to find that particular bit of information that is critical to a particular place in your novel, or you have a deadline approaching (last minute of course) and can't remember where you 'filed' your ideas - it all becomes a bit stressful. 
After I had completed my first novel (an achievement in itself) I wrote an article which was published in Writers Forum about the 7 (and a half) things I would do differently. Organising my information, sources, ideas, notes, thoughts, links and  anything else that related to the story, was one of those things. Having finished my second novel (well the first draft) I have put some of that into practice through a simple system of manual filing in one place. It still took me time to sift through the info to find what I wanted, so now I have made sections for particular pieces of information so I can access it quickly. It speeds the process up but better than that, it reminds me of things that I'd forgotten to include and prompts me to ask if they were important. For example, I made pages of notes about Red Cross parcels when researching prisoner of war camps. There is a significant part in the story which highlights the importance of these deliveries for my main character but I have skipped through it. But now I have the information at my fingertips (more or less) I can re-write that section and improve that particular scene for the reader - well that's the theory. 
I know , like the best time for writing, that there isn't a 'right' answer. We writers have to test out what works for us. That might be an index card system, or a dedicated journal or a box of paper napkins with scribbles on (it would have been a fag packet not so long ago) but whatever your preference, however loose it may be, I'm willing to bet that it works for you.

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1 comment:

Rob Innis said...

Jo - Microsoft thinktheyhave the solution (as always) "In its simplest form, OneNote is an electronic version of a paper notebook where you can write down notes, thoughts, ideas, scribbles, reminders, and all kinds of other information. Unlike the traditional document page format of other programs such as word-processing or spreadsheet programs, OneNote offers a free-form canvas where you can type, write, or draw notes in the form of text, graphics, and images wherever and however you want them."

Not that I use it!