Do you have too much information to keep track of for your novel?
Are all your notes weighing you down?
Do you have index cards, post-it notes, and loose paper flying free all over the place?
Well, this post can help! (I think.)
I started writing George Florence in November 2013. Since then I’ve edited two drafts. Then I re-wrote the whole novel, completely changing the dynamic of it. I am currently on the second draft of that version.
So I tell people I’m on the second draft, but it’s technically the fourth draft. The information is the same, the plot is the same, the cases are the same.
Yet every time I’ve edited the draft, I’ve looked at pacing, dialogue, character development, and that kind of stuff. I’ve looked at plot, but never really paid any attention to whether or not my information was correct.
Yes, this is fiction, but I need to throw a little bit of reality in there. It’s not a fantasy world, so I can’t just make up news laws as I go along.
It’s a lot of information and since this novel has been on paper since late 2013 (it’s been in my head much longer than that), I have my fair share of notes piled up.
There are a number of ways you can organize your notes.
1. An accordion folder
I use a 13-pocket accordion folder for each of my novels. One pocket for each draft. It gets big and bulky, but it keeps my novels away from each other and is easy for me to organize my drafts.
Depending on how many drafts of the novel I have, I use the back pockets for my notes as well. I toss index cards in there as well as a notebook or two. It keeps everything contained and the folder closes with a rope so nothing will ever fall out.
This is an obvious one. A notebook is made of paper and that where you write your notes. Duh.
If you use a notebook all the paper is together and contained by the binding. Better yet, you can get a five-subject notebook. The more paper for notes, the better. Plus, if you ever jot something down quickly on an index card or the like, most multi-subject notebooks have a built-in pocket folder. So easy enough.
3. Filing cabinet
I have a filing cabinet where I keep all my novels. Of course, you can use it to keep your research and notes for each novel.
I’m sure you’ve researched something for one novel and needed to know the same information for another novel. Why not have your own Google system in a cabinet? Then if you need to know something, you can ask yourself.
4. Your computer
Let’s be honest, most of us keep notes and research on our computer instead of printing it out or handwriting it.
If you research on the Internet, you can easily just bookmark a page or copy down the link to the website you found on a Word Document and go back to it later. It’s faster to type notes than it is to hand write them and you can get it anywhere at anytime. If you save it to Dropbox or your e-mail, you can check your notes on your phone or tablet when you’re not home.
Technology is wonderful.
What are some ways your organize your notes for your novels?
I listed different ways to go through your books and make them look pretty and presentable on the shelves, but I never organized my shelves in real life.
Christmas was around the corner and that room of the house was packed with boxes, presents, wrapping paper, etc. There was no room to move, let alone spread out all of my books.
So I recently organized them the other day.
I have two book cases. One is brown with three shelves and the other is white with three shelves. The shelves are deep enough that I can fit two rows of books on each shelf, so it’s like have 6 shelves for each book case.
Sometimes it gets annoying because you can’t see the books in the back when you’re looking for a specific one, but whatever. It is what it is.
Here are my shelves before I organized them. The bottom shelf of the brown case is bare because I started organizing before I took the picture:
I organized my brown shelf by series. I put all my Erin Hunter books first because the Warriors series is quite large, plus they have the Seekers series and Survivors series. Then I put all my other series on the shelves.
There was room on the last shelf so I decided to put all my writing craft books. I didn’t realize just how many books I had about writing, but I have a ton.
One my white shelf, I put all my standalone books. It looks much more disorganized than the other book case because none of the books are uniformed with each other since they’re not part of a series.
No, I did not put the books in rainbow order. That would have looked cool, but I don’t think I would have the patience for that.
Maybe someday though.
Here’s what the shelves looked like after:
Some of my books are on my desk in my office, which is partly why the white book case looks so bare.
But I also got rid of some books, too. I got rid of some really thick books, which is why there is so much extra room on the white book case.
I guess I’m just going to have to go to the bookstore and buy more books.
If you’re like me, you have many novel ideas swirling around in your head. These ideas are written in various Word documents on the computer saved to your flash drive, Dropbox, Google, e-mail, desktop, etc. They’re written in so many different notebooks that it’s hard to keep track. Or you just have loose papers all over the place with notes scribbled on them.
To start 2016 off right, I want to organize everything I have when it comes to my writing.
My reasons for doing this?
1. To have a neater work space. I have four areas where I have notebooks and file folders of novels and notes. That’s not including what’s on my computer. This way, I’ll know where everything is.
2. To prioritize my writing. I have to go through all the ideas I have and check off which ones I like best. Some novels I’ll write eventually, others I may never get to. Some will be published, some will be written but never see the light of day.
With that being said, here are five ways to organize your writing.
1. File Folders
I have a filing cabinet in the corner of my office filled with too many file folders to count. Each folder is its own novel and includes all the information on the novel such as summary, plot notes, lists of characters, etc.
It also includes my progress on the novel such as the date when I started it and date I finished it. Start edit, end edit dates, as well as page count, word count, chapter count, etc.
2. Accordion Folders
Most accordion folders have seven pockets or 13. I always buy the 13-pocket ones. When a novel is completed, I print it out and put it in the accordion folder because 300 or so pages of paper is just too thick to put in a file folder.
This is great as you edit because you can put each draft in a different pocket. Plus, the file folders fit perfectly in the pockets. So you can have all the information for one novel in one place.
3. Utilize Shelf Space
I have built-in shelves to the walls in my office. I have two next to my desk where I put notebooks. There are two more shelves in the closet where I keep even more notebooks.
I also have bins filled with notebooks. I have no idea where all these notebooks came from, but they’ll all get used up eventually I’m sure.
4. Keep Lists
I have a list of all my novel ideas. Series are color-coded and the list is broken up into genre categories. It’s a great way to keep all your ideas together. I also try to remember to write small summaries for each idea, too. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve had that turned out just to be a cool title because I couldn’t remember the idea.
5. Keep Your Info Together
I have two eight-pocket folders. I keep various information in each pocket such as characters and names, lists of agents, publishers, and self-publishers, rejections, awards, etc. It’s great to have many resources available right at your fingertips.
As a writer, time management is an important skill to have. There are deadlines to meet whether they’re from a publisher, agent, contest, or just personal.
If we’ve learned anything about writing over the past few years it’s that you need a good routine or schedule to accompany your writing. That’s where the time management skills come in.
It’s to help you keep writing on a regular basis; meet those deadlines, improve on your writing, finish that novel!
How can you manage your time effectively? There are many ways.
1. Set a timer.
When I write, I sometimes set a timer and try to write as much as I can in that set amount of time. If I have other things to do that day, I can set a timer for an hour. When that hour is over, I can officially say that I got some writing done. I won’t feel obligated to go back to it until the following day.
2. Set daily goals.
My goals include writing for two hours a day or write 2,000 words a day; whichever comes first. If time allows, I’ll write more words or write for a longer amount of time. If you want to write for two hours a day, you need to manage your time wisely and organize your day a bit so you can fit in those two hours every day.
3. Make a to-do list.
This can go along with number two, set daily goals. Every night before I go to bed I write a to-do list of things I want to get done the next day. I can complete the tasks in any order I want, just as long as they’re all crossed off by the end of the day.
4. Reward yourself.
Hit your daily goal? Did you write for a full two hours or write the entire time the timer was on? Reward yourself with something. It can be as little as eating a piece of chocolate or as big as buying yourself a new video game (that’s what I usually do when I win NaNoWriMo). The reward can vary depending on how little or how much you get done.
5. Stay focused.
Do people keep texting you while you’re trying to work? Do you have your favorite TV show on in the background? Turn it all off. Get rid of all the distractions. Every time you pick up your phone to answer a text, you’re wasting precious writing time. I know some people need noise to help them focus; I usually listen to instrumental music. That way I can’t sing along and get distracted by the lyrics.
6. Find out when you work best.
Are you a morning person? Night owl? Pin-point the time you’re most awake, most alert, and most productive in your day. I guarantee you will get a lot more done if you work at your certain time of day. For me, I work better in the morning. I wake up extra early just to write before I go to my day job. Because who’s not tired upon coming home from their job?
The more you manage your time, the more organized you will be. The more organized you are, the more you’ll get done.
How do you manage your time and write effectively?
I feel like I wrote Goodbye, 2013! just yesterday. I blinked and now the end of 2014 is here and 2015 is right around the corner. Time sure does fly.
Last year, I decided to go through all my blog posts for 2013 and highlight them in one post in an attempt to recap and say goodbye to 2013. I am going to do that again to say goodbye to 2014.
Let’s see what happened in 2014…
January: -I went over my New Year’s resolutions
-I continued to write Detective Florence and completed it
-I came up with the Short Story Sunday feature on my blog
-I started writing Inspiration Station -I had a schedule of writing 5,000 words a day and changed it to writing 5,000 words Monday-Thursday, editing Friday-Saturday, and relaxing on Sunday
-I discovered the Reading Bingo and challenged myself to it
-It was Kris’s birthday
February: -I decided to write only 1,000 words a day when school started
-I completed two Reading Bingo squares by reading Coming Clean and The Hobbit
-I continued to post my Short Story Sunday throughout the month
March: -I planned on editing more than writing to help prepare for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo
-I completed another Reading Bingo square by reading I, Robot
-I was nominated for the Liebster Award
April: -Camp NaNoWriMo started and I wrote Diary of A Killer
-I discovered the website Noisli
-I was nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award and the Howler Award
-Easter happened plus I was busy with work and school… I got behind on Camp NaNoWriMo
-I got 1,000 followers on Spilled Ink
May: -I lost Camp NaNoWriMo
-I discussed what “Success” is
-I joined Critique Circle
-It was Spilled Ink’s two-year anniversary
–Edited Detective Florence in preparation of Camp NaNo
–Camp NaNo: wrote Detective Florence 2
—Trying to balance life, writing, work, school, etc.
–I accidentally saved over my Camp NaNo novel (150 pages and 44k words) with my Short Story Sunday with five days left of Camp NaNo
–I wrote 50k in five days to beat Camp NaNo
–I beat Camp NaNo in, more or less, five days
–I updated my Reading Bingo with many novels
–I discussed how my English degree is basically in nothing
–I got a new job
–Lucky Seven Challenge with Detective Florence 2 –I currently had 15 WIPs… yikes.
–I came up with a writing schedule for the rest of the year
–I went to Disney and discovered the “Writer’s Stop” store and met Peter Pan
–Reality checked back in after vacation with school starting, work, Sunday school, etc.
–I wanted to enter some contests, but missed the deadlines
–I turned 21
–School started with a few creative writing classes
–Cookie the Beagle joined the family
–I tried to come up with a routine to balance homework, writing, etc.
–I discuss why I became a teacher, go to school, became a teacher/director or the Sunday school, write, etc.
–I updated everything in my life with my sister’s wedding coming up as well as November NaNo.
–I decided to edit Take Over and plan to write Far Away for NaNo
–I started editing Take Over which I noticed I’ve grown as a writer in the past year or so
–I watched “Authors Anonymous” and the screenwriter contacted me. It also inspired a new potential story idea
–I watched a NaNo video on Blurb
–I decided to give myself a reward of one dollar for every 1,000 words I write for NaNo
–I changed my mind again and decided to write short stories for NaNo
–I bought a new fish named Nano
–NaNoWriMo started and I wrote Short Story Collection and came up with new ideas for novels
–I did my best in balancing homework with NaNo
–I planned on finishing NaNo by Thanksgiving and did it
–I came up with a new novel idea called Fire and Ice
–I won NaNo
–Thanksgiving happened and I made a list of all I’m thankful for
–I compared NaNo 2013 to this year’s NaNo
–I edited while on vacation and discussed how that’s the best time to write
–I came up with a plan for my Detective Florence series
–I finished typing the second draft of Detective Florence –I wrapped up yet another semester of my Bachelor’s degree and made it out alive and with good grades
–I hand edited the first draft of Detective Florence 2
–I changed the title of my blog, bought the domain name from WordPress, and made some slight layout changes
So much has happened in one year. Some good, some bad, but I think it was mostly good. I’m happy to be where I am right now. I have a wonderful job, I’m going to school, and I’m on my way with my writing. There’s nothing for me to complain about.
Today was the first day back to school for everyone. Winter break is officially over. Then the weather decided to give everyone a few extra days.
I don’t know where any of you are, but right now where I am we are in the middle of a blizzard. My area is going to get 9-15 inches of snow and every time I check the weather the amount of snow goes up an inch or two. It started last night around midnight and isn’t going to stop until tomorrow afternoon. So pretty much everywhere declared today and tomorrow a snow day. Now that I don’t have a job anymore this did not effect me at all. However, it was still nice not having to wake up early to get my cousins ready for school.
Today was a good day. I cleaned, I wrote, I shoveled snow, I played Pokemon, I watched TV…and I did it all in my pajamas! Well, I did laundry today which was basically the reason as to why I stayed in my pajamas. And yes, I went outside to shovel in my pajamas. It was great.
Anyway, today is Thursday (as far as I know…without work and school I can’t keep the date straight anymore). This means that I had to write 5,000 words. I wrote 5,359 words on Detective Florence. Lilah, the female protagonist, went missing. I have no idea where she is, why she left, and when she’s going to come back. But poor George, the male protagonist, is freaking out. The good news is he knows how to work his cell phone now. It’s a good thing Lilah decided to teach him before she decided to fall off the face of the earth.
Speaking of writing, I meant to mention this yesterday, but a while back I decided that every Sunday for the year of 2014 I’m going to post a piece of my work whether it be a poem or a short story or a small prompt. I decided to get a few samples up here so you guys realize that I am not in fact all talk. I actually do write stuff. Then when I get something published you guys will like my writing enough to give my novels a shot. So every Sunday I’ll probably post a quick blurb about how many words I wrote, what novel I edited, and whatnot, but I will then post my stories. I have a few written already that I wrote back in October-ish.
Also, since I decided I’m going to read more this year, Kris and I started reading a novel together. There is a TV show called Psych and it is fantastic. Look it up if you’ve never heard of it or seen it. I found out that someone wrote a series of five books based on the show. I got a Kindle for Christmas and the first book of the series was the very first book I bought. We took turns reading the chapters out loud to each other. We stopped at chapter four because we both began to get tongue-tied. But whenever we can’t read together, like tonight because she’s at work, I’m reading another book so I can keep up with my reading goal. You can see what I’m reading and what I’ve already read on my GoodReads account. I decided to keep track of my reading goal on there and focus only on my writing goal here.
In other news, I sent my children’s picture book out to three agents today. I planned on sending it out to more places, but I began to go cross-eyed. So I’ll probably send it out to a few other places tomorrow. The turnaround times are two weeks, six weeks, and eight weeks. So at least I don’t have too long to wait around.
I believe that’s all the updates I have for the moment. Tomorrow is another cold, snowy day. I plan on getting a lot of writing done.
Today is the last day of 2013. How weird is that? I decided to do something special on here in celebration of 2014. I spent most of the morning going through all my blog posts from 2013. I had a good few laughs at the things that happened and there were also a lot of things that I couldn’t remember that happened. Oh, and I wish I counted all the typos I have made in my blog posts…sorry about that!
Anyway, I thought it would be cool to recap on everything that happened in 2013. I know WordPress sends something about views, stats, posts, pictures, comments, followers, etc. But my report is going to be about everything that actually happened in real life. And I know I don’t post every day or post about everything little thing that happens in my life, we can still get a pretty good idea on what’s been going on.
–I was in the middle of writing The Blank Page.
–Dick passed away. Dick was an old man from my church. He did a lot for the church and the people apart of it. He passed away from a long hard-fought battle of lung cancer. It’s really hard to believe that it’s already been about a year since his death.
–We switched from Verizon to Comcast. My laptop still has internet issues because of this. It’s been almost a year of me fighting with my internet connection, too!
–My flash drive died and I lost everything. All the novels I was currently working on and already completed. All my lesson plans for Sunday school, everything for work, all my homework, among other things. I literally lost everything.
Feburary: –About a week after my flash drive died, I finally got back into writing. I started writing Take Over (as The Blank Page was lost and I was too discouraged to re-write it). I worked on Take Over for the entire month.
–I got my driver’s license.
–I prepared myself to write Saving Each Other for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.
–I continued writing Take Over.
–I sent my picture book Asking Bobby to a publisher.
–I came up with the idea of starting a vlog.
April: –Wrote Saving Each Other for Camp NaNo and finished it. Began the second part, Seeing Things. I also finished Take Over and began writing The Blank Page again.
–I wrote one haiku a day for the NaPoWriMo, but finished after April.
–I finished my first vlog, but decided not to post it
–I began writing Far Away in a notebook
–I was interviewed by Briana Vedsted
–Did a Booky Questions and Blog Hopper survey
–I made a goal to finish The Blank Page in May, which never went through.
May: –Attempted to write The Blank Page and the three novels that are written in that novel. None of them got finished.
–Made a writing and editing schedule which stuck for a little while.
–I was nominated for the Sunshine and Super Sweet Blogger awards.
–I began editing Diary of a Lover while my mom began to edit Take Over.
–Finished the fourth draft of Diary of a Lover. I tried to print it out to let Kris edit it, but the printer broke.
–I began to edit Hunter because I didn’t want to start a new project before the next session of Camp NaNo in July.
–My sister Lisa moved out with her boyfriend, my two cousins moved in with my grandparents, and I graduated with my Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
–Began to write a Pokemon FanFiction that is still not finished.
–I decided to write Cybertra for Camp NaNo, but ended up not finishing it in the end. I ended up not being into the story anymore. Needless to say, I lost that NaNo session.
–Kris and I tried out a new writing schedule, but after going on vacation for a whole week, the schedule died.
–Decided to do contests and post stories into books such as Chicken Soup for the Soul.
–Sam, a boy I babysit for, wanted me to write The Babysitting Adventures of Rachel which is about the two of us. I never wrote it, although I had plans to.
–I thought a lot about my future. School, work, writing, etc. Wondered where I was going to be in a few years and how I was going to get there.
–Comet, my uncle’s dog, was put down due to cancer.
–I had a tough time writing so I wrote a silly prompt and it ended up sparking a few new ideas.
–We began to remodel Lisa’s bedroom so Kris and I could have an office. It is now complete and we call it the “Blue Room.” Don’t ask why, we planned on calling it our office.
–I finally got a new flash drive.
–I continued editing and outlining Hunter and began to write and outline Hunted, the sequel.
–My co-worker was laid off due to low enrollment leaving me with a promotion, but it was only me and one other teacher with all the kids.
–Work started as me being a teacher and school started which was my first semester at a new school for my bachelor’s.
–Gloria, a member of my church, passed away.
–I asked for information about Smashwords and got a lot of nice feedback along with others. I still have to finish researching Smashwords, PubIt!, CreateSpace, and Kindle Direct Publishing.
October: –I prepared for NaNo in November. I planned out the novel using sticky notes, index cards, and a big poster board with Kris.
–I hit 50,000 words on Detective Florence for NaNo 17 days into the month. I am still currently working on the novel. I have a little over 70,000 words so far.
–I won NaNo and I talked about focusing more on my writing
–I lost my teaching job. The preschool closed due to low enrollment and no money. I am still jobless.
–I survived my first semester for my bachelor degree.
–I got the new Pokemon games and a Kindle for Christmas!
So there you have it. A breakdown of everything that happened to me in 2013. But as I looked through my old blog posts I realized probably about 90% of everything I started was never finished. I know I say this all the time, but for 2014 I’m really going to buckle down and get something published. Or get something ready for publication. No more goofing off.
My resolution for 2013 was to read 50 pages a day and write 1,000 words a day. I stopped keeping track long ago, but I know I did not make the reading goal. I most likely didn’t make the writing goal, either. I doubt I wrote 365,000 words this past year. While there were some days I wrote 10k, there were so many other days that I didn’t bother to write at all.
My resolution this year is…
–Finish editing a novel or two
–Freelance: Enter writing contests, send stories into magazines, etc.
–Finish what I start
That last one is for everything, not just my writing.
I hope everyone had a wonderful 2013 and I wish everyone the best in 2014! 🙂
Today is a good day to do nothing. It’s cold, it’s raining, it’s just all around “bleh.” I slept in until 9:30 this morning (I never do that) and I am still in my pajamas…it’s 12:45 right now. Christmas Eve is tomorrow and my shopping and wrapping is all done. The semester finished about a week or so ago so I don’t have to worry about homework and I’m out of a job currently, so I don’t even have to worry about that. Well, other than finding a new job. Anyway, just because it’s a good day to do nothing and I don’t have anything to do, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t do anything. Right?
Yet, I was reading last night and I went to bed when I had about 35 pages left in my book…why? I have no idea. But I decided to finish reading it this morning and I read a page when Hunter jumped on my lap and purred and stared me down while batting my face with his paw. I knew I should have told him that the world doesn’t revolve around him, but instead of doing that, I put my book down, turned on Psych on Netflix, and the two of us cuddled on the couch for a really long time. When he finally decided that he had enough cuddling, he left me in front of the TV all alone. So I turned it off, turned on Lucy, and decided to get a little writing done.
Kris and I have been doing a great job with our writing lately. She started something new that she’s been doing very well with and I’m continuing Detective Florence. I had planned on finishing that novel by the end of November, NaNoWriMo, but I never did. So I was hoping to finish it by the end of December, but I just started writing it again. I don’t know if I’m going to finish it in the next week; especially since Christmas is in two days. I know I’m getting Pokemon X and Pokemon Y among other video games, so I know for a fact that video games are going to be my life at least until New Year’s, if not longer.
Last night I hit 65,000 words on Detective Florence and got up and over 200 pages. I was proud of myself. But then I look at my outline (which I am making as I write the novel), I have such a long way to go. I think this novel is going to go above and beyond 300 pages, I have no idea how many words that’s going to be. It’s getting to the point where I just want the novel to end.
So I’m trying to write as much as I can every day because the next semester for school doesn’t start until January 21, 2014 and I have no idea when work is going to start up for me again. So I need to take advantage of the free time I have right now.
My only issue is that I need to focus on it. Which I have been doing well on, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I get distracted.
Well, it’s December first. I can’t remember anything that happened this year and we still have a month to go. Needless to say, November was a busy month, but it’s all a blur to me now. The first 17 days of November I wrote…a lot. And I won NaNoWriMo. I had planned on going above and beyond the 50k mark because I wanted to finish the entire manuscript. However, I think I got a little too tired from all that writing before. I hit about 52k and then stopped. But I got a nifty certificate to go with my Camp NaNo ones!
The best part is that Kris won NaNo, too. This was her very first year winning and last night she got home from working 8:30-5:30 and wrote about 5,000 words in order to hit the 50k. She finished around 10:30 at night, but she made it just in time! She and I are going Christmas shopping today. If we find anything we want, we may treat ourselves for winning.
In other news, I started a new project. Yeah, I know…I have too many writing projects going on at once. But I figured that for the month of December I can go back and forth between that one and Detective Florence. I’m hoping that I will be able to finish that novel by the end of the month so for my New Year’s resolution I can say I want it to be completely edited by the end of 2014. Heh, we’ll see what happens.
Anyway, this new project is a collection of silly poems for kids. Random? Totally. Friday night Kris was writing her NaNo novel and I didn’t feel like writing mine. I was in a bit of a hyped up mood and ended up writing a poem about a fat dog named Sit. I would post it to give you guys a sneak peek, but I submitted it to Chicken Soup. They have a new book coming out called “The Dog Did WHAT?”
Now I’m sure most of you have heard of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Most of you probably have a few of their books. The stories and poems submitted are non-fiction, heart-felt, inspirational. Some make you laugh, some make you cry. Kris thought this poem was so adorable that she begged me to submit it. I don’t think it will get published as it’s obvious that it’s a silly fictional poem. But like Kris said, “The worst they can do is say no.” So I sent it in anyway, but I highly doubt it will get published.
The deadline for entries for this particular book is January 5, 2014. So it’s going to be a while before I hear back (if I hear back at all…I don’t think they contact you if it’s a rejection). So I will post it eventually. But I’m also shooting to make a whole book of these poems and maybe get that published someday. I have four poems so far. Go me!
So I was going to post an excerpt of Detective Florence today, but since I never finished the full manuscript, I’m going to wait. When I finish the novel (hopefully by the end of the month) I’ll post an excerpt of it.
Congrats to all those who won NaNoWriMo this year! 🙂