Taking Notes

Yesterday morning I ordered a new notebook for myself. I’ve always liked notebooks with their neatly-lined pages, their clever spiral bindings and solid backs. I’m going to be especially fond of the one I bought today.

NotebookIt’s designed with the cover art from my latest historical romance novel, Not the Marrying Kind.  The cover was designed by Dawne Dominique, and as always, she did an awesome job of translating my garbled “author cover notes” and the pictures locked away inside my brain to the actual book cover. For those who might be interested in a steamy historical romance, Not the Marrying Kind, Book 1 of “The Sunset Series” is now available as an ebook, and will be released later this year in paperback from Secret Cravings Publishing. 

Now that I’ve put in a shameless plug for my latest book, let’s move on and get back to today’s topic.

Notebooks

Specifically, writer’s notebooks. Not necessarily ones with your cover art, but ones you use as a writer. You do use a notebook, don’t you?

Writers tend to come up with odd thoughts at inconvenient times. Some authors keep notepads at their bedside in order to scribble down those random ideas — or dreams — that pop into their heads as they drift off to sleep. Other authors I’ve known have given up on the old-fashioned pen and paper methods and now record thoughts and impressions — as well as images — with cell phones.

Technology definitely offers us new possibilities as writers! At least, as long as we can figure out how to use it.

I remember how excited I was when I first got Microsoft Word 2010 and discovered the “Notes” feature. What an idea!  I loved the ability to quickly and easily makes notes while I was working on-line…or, that is, I probably would have loved it if I’d ever truly understood how to utilize the feature. I tried. It was confusing, complicated, and for me, far more trouble than it was worth. I made notes but could never find them again. I’ll go back to the old-fashioned, tried-and-true method of putting pen or pencil to paper in my old-fashioned spiral-bound notebook.

What about YOU?

This post — despite my brazen attempt to show off my new story — isn’t about me and my writing notebooks. I know what I keep in mine, and before you ask, yes, I know what a confused, disorganized mess my writing notebooks usually become. I’m not sure there’s an easy, orderly way of compiling random bursts of inspiration or the sudden shoutings of the voices in my head. Might be nice, but it hasn’t happened in all the years I’ve been writing. I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.

I scribble down lots of sentences. Random thoughts that slip into my head.  Things my characters might think or say.

I put down descriptions now and then, thoughts and impressions about places I go, such as that delightful candle shop with all its fragrant, waxy scents rushing at me when I open the door and step inside. Sometimes I paint “word pictures” of the morning skies in hopes of remembering the streaks of gold that herald the arrival of the new day.

What about YOU? What do you capture in your writing notebooks? Do you keep separate tabs? Have you found a way to organize it all?

  • Dialogue
  • Character profiles
  • Names
  • Descriptions
  • Scene sketches
  • Ideas
  • Titles
  • Themes

What’s in your notebook? What methods do you use to record your ideas? Do you include photos? Drawings? Doodles?

An Experiment

I recently read a writer’s challenge: Capture an entire day in a notebook.

What? Are you out of your mind? A whole day? From waking to sleeping? I suppose it would be a good experience, and it would surely result in much fodder for fiction. Still, it seems a bit daunting to think of recording an entire day of personal experiences — every conversation, every activity, every morsel of food eaten, every place visited. Nice idea, but I think I’ll pass, thank you.

Of course, much of that information could be included in a personal journal. Maybe not every moment of every day, but the highlights. Those unforgettable moments, those well-spoken words, those special people who’ve touched our lives on that particular day.

So, I’m asking you again. What’s in your writing notebook? Is it “fiction only”? Or do you use it as a personal journal? Do you save  your journals? Forever? What stories or poems have you created from the ideas in your journal?

I hope you’ll leave a comment on this post and share a few thoughts about your writing notebooks or your journals.  I intend to make good use of my new notebook, not just as an advertising tool, but as a reminder of my own creative dreams. Yes, those wild and crazy ideas that come into our heads can turn into stories that can become books for others to read and enjoy.

Writing always begins with a thought…so capturing our thoughts and saving them might just be a good thing to do.

Now…your thoughts, please?

Divider

IF YOU ARE A NOTEBOOK LOVER LIKE ME, PLEASE CHECK OUT “NOTEBOOK STORIES”. IT’S A FRIENDLY BLOG YOU’LL WANT TO VISIT OFTEN.
Advertisements

Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh, My!

Everybody has seen The Wizard of Oz. At least once. Probably a dozen times or more. And everybody probably recognizes at once those words:

Lions and tigers and bears…oh, my!

Writers have new fears to worry about!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I sat down to write this post, those words and that familiar rhythmic melody began pounding through my head. But the words soon changed. I wasn’t worrying about lions, tigers, or bears, but thinking instead of brands, concepts, and bios!  Oh, my!

Writers today have an overwhelming array of things to worry about. We can’t write one book then move on to the next. We need to promote our work, make the rounds on social media sites, and actively participate in author and reader loops.

It’s frightening.

Almost every day it seems that some new site is popping up forcing writers to learn new technologies, develop different marketing strategies, and spend more time on-line and less time doing what we do best: writing stories for readers to enjoy.

We need websites, Facebook pages, blogs, and Twitter. There’s Rafflecopter for giveaways, and Random.org for choosing winners. I haven’t figured out Triberr, I’m still a bit confused about Tumblr, and why would anybody really care where I am with Four Square? And what about blog radio? Yikes!

We need swag — stuff we all get, or stuff we all give.  I’m not really sure what it means, but it translates into business cards, bookmarks, tote bags, and other promotional items, which, of course, means more money out of our pockets, but it’s worth it, isn’t it, if it helps us gain visibility and get our names “out there” — wherever “out there” is.

There are dozens of helpful “coaches” who — for a fee — will tell us exactly how to handle book promotions, how to develop our online image, how to create a ‘brand”. We’re not writers, really. We’re products to be packaged, marketed, and hopefully, sold to consumers eager to figuratively eat us up.

Amidst all this clamor and confusion, there is a little common sense to be found. While much of the advice touted on the internet is redundant, ridiculous, impractical, or worthless, some does have value.

  • Read what you can; accept what makes sense to you.
  • Don’t try being everywhere, doing everything.
  • Make writing your first priority. If you have nothing to offer, there’s no need to promote yourself.
  • Ask for help when you need it.

The most important aspect, I think — and this applies whether we’re talking about writing, socializing, promoting, or anything else in life — is having a solid understanding of who we are and what we’re doing.

Every year, as November approaches, I prepare for the annual writing event known as “National Novel Writing Month” — NaNo for short. Chris Baty, the founder of the event, wrote a handy little guidebook for participants. In No Plot? No Problem, he suggests making a Magna Carta for writing. I do this religiously each year.

  • List 10 things you like in books you read.
  • List 10 things you hate in books you read.

By doing this, you can get a good look at who you are as a reader, which is, ultimately, who you need to be as a writer. Makes sense, don’t you think?

It’s only when we figure out who we are and what stories we have to tell that we can successfully maneuver our way through the online forests and overcome the fears of our own “lions and tigers and bears”.   Oh, my!