Writing stories of whatever length, can mean gathering a lot of information. I donít know about you, but I think Iím organised, then spend hours looking for that one snippet of research, or a name I thought would fit, or a picture of a setting. And the longer it takes to search through my notebooks, folders, drawers and diary, the more frustrated I become. Iím a bit of a luddite I admit; my preference for paper based information is not very productive in terms of using my time. In addition, although I donít venture far from my desk, my system isnít very practical if Iím not at home and have to lug the stuff about. Iíd probably lose it anyway. And to top it all, our house is tiny and Iím already surrounded by bulging bookshelves full of paper and files which threaten to topple on my head and heavenís forbid my laptop.
As Iím in the process of sorting five works in progress out this year in preparation for publication and have gathered and continue to gather lots of information I may need at my fingertips, I decided Iíd get a bit more savvy and step out of my paper filled comfort zone. Itís just as hard to break ingrained habits as it is to maintain them and I canít claim that Iím fully paper less but Iím getting there.
ďOrganizing is a journey, not a destination.Ē
Iíve used Microsoft OneNote for some time for gathering information, but rather like my desk it became cluttered with information I soon forgot about. However, it is a powerful tool and whatís more, itís so easy to use. It represents a folder with tabs, just like my old fashioned system but itís kept online and you can access it very easily from any device if youíve set it up properly.† In preparation for my editing and revisions Iíve set up this simple Ďstory bibleí for each one of my projects with tabs for plot, characters, setting, research and notes. I can clip stuff easily from the internet using a chrome extension, I can type in notes just as I would write them and save images. †I can even make the Ďpageí look like lined not paper. Whatís not to like? Iíve stopped scribbling stuff down on sticky notes, on the back of my hand and stopped trying to remember things Iím so sure I wonít forget, because I will.
So now I can access everything to do with one project all in one place. Itís not perfect though and depends very much on the user, as most things technical. And I still misfile things. Yesterday I spent ages looking for notes I was convinced Iíd typed up after reading a reference book on the subject matter. I cursed and cursed blaming the laptop, the eternal black hole of the internet and even the dog until I realised Iíd saved it in the wrong place. So not infallible then. But I donít suppose anything ever will be with my scatterbrain.
Ah, well, at least Iíve saved a few trees and maybe eventually a forest or two.
*This is a re-post of a blog from Louise Charles.†