magicmau5

Writing organization - notepad vs computer

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Ok, so I have a serious problem with personal organization. That extends to writing, and I wonder if anyone else has this problem? I use notepads to write down ideas when I am struck by them during the night, at the gym, etc and it's annoying to open my laptop or write a note on my phone. But then I have these notepads everywhere, and I have to make sure I look at them before writing so I don't forget something important. I also keep a little box where I stuff things that give me ideas/inspiration.

Then there's the whole use of Word. I just open a regular document to write in, but have several other accompanying documents and a spreadsheet where I put research. But I also put research and records of characters (like full names, descriptions, etc in case I forget) on the bottom of my main document. This is starting to really annoy me. I mean, I put all those in its own labeled folder inside my AFF folder, but still. Now I even have a section at the bottom of my main document that has quotes and page numbers of published fic that gives me ideas. This is getting out of control! Do you think I should have a separate document for different types of research so I don't put it all in the main doc?

Is there a word processing program that anyone prefers? I just use good old fashioned word, currently the 2011 Word for Mac. I haven't gotten the 2013 version yet. Is Publisher useful?

Edited by magicmau5

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That does look really useful. Have you tried it? Or Scrapple? I could have really used Scrivener when I was writing grant proposals and patent applications!

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Well I downloaded it and man, it's very complex. There's a ton of things you can do with it. It reminds me of learning how to use a Smart Board, which is useful but very annoying at first.

I imported my story Off the Wall in it, and since I only have 12 chapters finished it didn't take to long to split it into separate chapter-folders. Now I'm filling out my character templates, which is so useful. After I finish that I'm moving onto the location templates. It has all these metadata fields you can create, which is a librarian's wet dream :D, and a dedicated research section, which is definitely the part that is going to be the most useful to me, since this fic I'm writing has like...three files I'm using: locations, Spanish dictionaries, and music. I'm so excited to make a few new documents, which are crazy anal retentive but that's the way I roll: a document that has the temperature and weather history for LA, one for my published quotes section, and maybe a music lyrics file. And a guitar chord file, although I've only researched one song to get the guitar chords for. I'm not even sure why I did that. But one of the character's is a guitarist and I thought, I really want the chords for that song! For anyone interested, I used Chordify.net.

I'm a little bit sick of researching so much for something that's not that important in the large scheme of things, but it's become an obsession.

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I'm glad you're liking it. It does look interesting, although I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of my notebooks yet. After all, I started writing long before there were PCs or even an Internet. :D

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It actually would have been extremely useful when I was in college. I had such a hard time compiling notes from 20+ sources, 30+ sources for larger projects. In undergrad I was just trying to figure out how to write, and creating references and compiling notes was a huge pain because it takes away so much time from actual writing. In grad school I routinely had at least 20 references per paper. And then if you have a master's thesis, with minimum 60,000 words, well it's honestly frightening thinking of the reference list. This kind of application seems to me like the invention of using the calculator versus using logarithmic tables.

I can't, however, entirely give up on notebooks, since I'm not from the Google generation and I have this peculiar need to write with a pen and paper :). I was taught to type using a type writer, so when personal computers came out I was so grateful because I was horrible about mistakes and using the white out. Using dial-up internet became common when I was in 5th grade or so (1994/5 I suppose) and by then I had already been both doodling and writing little stories. Well, mostly doodling but it seemed an essential activity to me at the time! Just seeing a notebook in a stationary store still makes me want to write.

On a tangential note: Remember when children used to be taught cursive handwriting? I don't know when they stopped, but my nieces are only being taught regular script. This, for some reason, really bugs me.

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I still use both. I actually prefer to use pen and paper but am not very organized either and have to go back through and label different things (plot ideas, random ideas, backstories, ect) so I can compile them later. Occassionally, I'll actually want to start off writing on the laptop and I so somewhat periodically as to give the writings a little more permanence. I'm from the computer age but still prefer to write stuff out by hand first. Plus, having two formats can help with proving a copyright violation if one should ever come up. I just recently started a completely seperate ff notebook. I'll definitely have to check out scrivener so thanks for that!

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I use both methods, notebooks and computer. My ideas sometimes end up all over the place.

For outlining, I tend to use notebooks; it's a little easier to circle and scribble and I can always transcribe it onto a Word document later.

For story ideas which are still gathering plot in my head, pen and paper is always best. I can take it around with me and add pieces as they come. Computers can run out of battery life, have no available outlets, or--well, frankly, they break down faster if you move them around a lot. With a notebook and pen, there are only three worries: running out of ink, losing pages, or ideas flowing too fast to jot them down.

Chapter-wise, it mostly depends on where I am. If I'm at home, I'm probably using the computer. If I'm not, I've probably got a notebook in my hands and will transcribe at some later point. Sometimes I'll go up in the woods, find a quiet spot while my man goes fishing and just write. No computer, no nosy relatives or neighbors, and maybe even no music, just me and the wildlife and the wind in the trees. And, off in the distance, my man. It's quite calming.

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There are lots of great ways to organize your thoughts, both on and off the computer. Here are a few that I've tried that have worked well for me:

--Writing ideas down on scraps of paper or index cards so that I can lay them out later and move them around until I like the order they're in.

--Using a smartphone app called Notebooks. I use it to write down ideas or pieces of dialogue or whatnot and then email them to myself so that, later, I can organize them on my computer.

--Using a freeware program called Freemind. It's basically an outlining program that lets you type text into boxes, shuffle them around, put them in hierarchies, etc.

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There are lots of great ways to organize your thoughts, both on and off the computer. Here are a few that I've tried that have worked well for me:

--Writing ideas down on scraps of paper or index cards so that I can lay them out later and move them around until I like the order they're in.

--Using a smartphone app called Notebooks. I use it to write down ideas or pieces of dialogue or whatnot and then email them to myself so that, later, I can organize them on my computer.

--Using a freeware program called Freemind. It's basically an outlining program that lets you type text into boxes, shuffle them around, put them in hierarchies, etc.

Scrivener has Freemind's kind of functionality in an option called Group Mode. It's visual background is a cork board, and you can add notes and shuffle them around however you like as if you were using a physical cork board, sans annoying sticky notes and/or pins.

I am so happy with Scrivener. It is hands down the best word processing program I've ever used. The best functions, I think, are the Comment and Snapshot functions. Snapshot takes a copy, or "snapshot" of your current document and you can compare it to earlier or later versions. There are multiple docs within the whole doc so you don't have to look at the whole doc at once when you use Snapshot. Comment is a hypertext function that gives you a link within the document to a note that you type in the margin. When I edit, I make comments on things I want to look at later, research further, and words that need a thesaurus. You can easily delete the comments when you're ready to print or publish.

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I wasn't originally going to write any fanfics.. when I was 13 I wrote some sci-fi/fantasy mix stuff and enjoyed doing it but then I stopped and haven't considered it again for the next twenty five years lol. I found this site from someone else mentioning a certain fanfic so I read it and that made me slightly inspired, now I just got done watching an anime which I felt the ending was not done to my satisfaction so now I have a subject and I think that's enough to get me to try.

The point of that rambling is now I find myself struggling with how to approach it, and organization is one of the issues. What I found worked good for me as I brainstormed is my phone's voice notes. Convenient as I do not need to break out my laptop to type or my pencil to write. As an idea pops in my head I hit the switch and discuss it with myself. Later on I'll transcribe those notes to the PC.

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It really depends where I am. If I'm on the computer and the idea strikes, I bring up sticky notes and go crazy typing up my notes. I just have to remember to right click on the icon and close out that way so that my notes are saved. More important ones are put into Notepad/Wordpad.

Then I have a notebook in each room of the apartment, one in the truck, and one in my vest pocket along with a pen accompanying said notebook. They're tiny enough to not take up much room, and if I get a idea I'll stop what I'm doing and write it down. Though sometimes, I have to hunt down the notebook for a certain idea just so I can type it up! Doesn't help I lose them either.

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Personally I write most of my stories on notepads and then I just retype them on here. The one story I've written on here is finished on paper but not on here.

I've used Word to write a Naruto fanfiction and I liked it but, I prefer writing on Notebooks instead of using the computer (I don't know why, but I do).

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It's a little late to add my stone to this discussion but...

I use to write in a notepad too, but only one. I carry it in my bag, in my pocket, everywhere... I write everything in it, using one sheet for one idea/story. And I use to retype my notes from notepad on my computer every morning, while I take my breakfast.

For the moment when I can't write freely (At work), I use G.drive. It's quick and easy. I write the ideas, characters research and notes first and the story under the notes. And I don't have to copy the documents on a key to access it from my home computer or another computer.

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I carry a bound notebook just for jotting ideas down on the run.  Sometimes, writing it out into my 3-ring binder helps.  Ultimately, both of these get transcribed into a little database I have on my computer (custom software), which makes it easier to track stuff to characters, events, etc.

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9 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

I carry a bound notebook just for jotting ideas down on the run.

Here, I thought I was the only one who did that.

I have a weird pattern going on.  I will write some stuff completely on paper and have it red lined and worked on repeatedly before I go to the computer.  Other things, I type out and maintain that.  And, as others have said, occasionally for me, it depends where I am.  If I don't have my laptop, but something strikes me that goes beyond simple notes, I'll write on whatever I can.  (I have asked for a blank piece of printer paper while waiting in a doctor's office and while being in the hospital recovering...  I am not too proud to beg for paper!  I did get interesting looks, though.)

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I used to write out some stories and type out others. Like some stories just needed that pen and paper feel. I’ve been using my notebooks less and less often as the years go on. At this point I write maybe half a page in a notebook every now and then, just to get a conversation or idea down I don’t want to forget, but otherwise I don’t write whole scenes on paper anymore like I used to. I don’t really think it’s a bad thing. It’s just the way my writing is evolving for better or worse. 

Writing with a pen and paper is slower. It takes longer to get thoughts out, so for me, it’s not as practical. I think part of the reason I’m leaning away from the practice is because when I feel a pressure of time, I want to be able to write quickly. Haven’t been able to settle down somewhere and really take my time and savour the art. I go straight for the keyboard because I need to type quick. 

Okay, so now about the organization. I feel very strongly about this, lol. I come from a long line of organizers, and I ALWAYS organize on the computer, because I can back it up, access it easily, and not worry about a relative stumbling onto it. When I was a kid, when I wrote everything on paper, I actually used physical folders and owned a file cabinet for my writings. Yes. A thirteen year old girl who very proudly owned a file cabinet. Deal with it. So here it is, my epic system: 

  • Every story has its own folder (Except oneshots and fic starts that didn’t make it into a whole chapter.) 
  • I name the folder “Story Name 08 12 2012” ← The numbers are the date it was created. (Because the file properties are unreliable, and I have too many old stories that I’m not sure when I wrote them and it drives me absolutely insane.)
  • Within the story folder I have four files.
    • The file in which I’m doing the writing (This file doesn’t have the complete story as I move chapters out once they’re complete and edited.),
    • a master file (Which has the full story and a duplicate backup on the cloud),
    • A file with scenes I have cut from the main story,
    • and a file with plans/research/profiles/etc (If there’s too much information here, sometimes I will split this file into two, one for plans, and one for research/related info). 

I love my system. 

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1 hour ago, Tcr said:

Here, I thought I was the only one who did that.

I have a weird pattern going on.  I will write some stuff completely on paper and have it red lined and worked on repeatedly before I go to the computer.  Other things, I type out and maintain that.  And, as others have said, occasionally for me, it depends where I am.  If I don't have my laptop, but something strikes me that goes beyond simple notes, I'll write on whatever I can.  (I have asked for a blank piece of printer paper while waiting in a doctor's office and while being in the hospital recovering...  I am not too proud to beg for paper!  I did get interesting looks, though.)

I normally don’t go that far to write entire scenes unless I’ve got computer troubles.  However, the notebook has the advantage in that it doesn’t need recharging, just a pen to use.  Does every idea make it?  No, but a greater amount do.  Sometimes things will come to me at work, and I’m certainly not going to use my work computer to record this, so a moment or two to jot into the notebook, and hopefully I’ll remember to look at the notebook later.

1 hour ago, CloverReef said:

Writing with a pen and paper is slower. It takes longer to get thoughts out, so for me, it’s not as practical. I think part of the reason I’m leaning away from the practice is because when I feel a pressure of time, I want to be able to write quickly. Haven’t been able to settle down somewhere and really take my time and savour the art. I go straight for the keyboard because I need to type quick.

I’m far quicker at typing too, which is why I prefer typing.  However, if it’s a one liner or something, or I need to see it in a way that’s tough to do easily on a computer, I’ll use pen+paper.  We’re typically talking major points to a scene or something, not generally prose.

1 hour ago, CloverReef said:

Okay, so now about the organization. I feel very strongly about this, lol. I come from a long line of organizers, and I ALWAYS organize on the computer, because I can back it up, access it easily, and not worry about a relative stumbling onto it. When I was a kid, when I wrote everything on paper, I actually used physical folders and owned a file cabinet for my writings. Yes. A thirteen year old girl who very proudly owned a file cabinet. Deal with it. So here it is, my epic system:

Sounds better organized than me.  Most of my bills/mail just form a stack on my desk until I need that part of the my desk and thus they get unceremoniously dumped into a box to be dealt with “later”.  I have been trying different takes on my software solution, the XML database for storing the data in.  Generally it’s the view that a character has a file, and I put their information into that file.  Ditto for organizations, or events, or places, or what not.

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10 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

I normally don’t go that far to write entire scenes unless I’ve got computer troubles.  However, the notebook has the advantage in that it doesn’t need recharging, just a pen to use.  Does every idea make it?  No, but a greater amount do.  Sometimes things will come to me at work, and I’m certainly not going to use my work computer to record this, so a moment or two to jot into the notebook, and hopefully I’ll remember to look at the notebook later.

I’m far quicker at typing too, which is why I prefer typing.  However, if it’s a one liner or something, or I need to see it in a way that’s tough to do easily on a computer, I’ll use pen+paper.  We’re typically talking major points to a scene or something, not generally prose.

Sounds better organized than me.  Most of my bills/mail just form a stack on my desk until I need that part of the my desk and thus they get unceremoniously dumped into a box to be dealt with “later”.  I have been trying different takes on my software solution, the XML database for storing the data in.  Generally it’s the view that a character has a file, and I put their information into that file.  Ditto for organizations, or events, or places, or what not.

My bills and important documents aren't organized. They're stuffed in a drawer and a box. I just organize the Fuck out of the really important things: smut. 

Edited by CloverReef

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35 minutes ago, CloverReef said:

My bills and important documents aren't organized. They're stuffed in a drawer and a box. I just organize the Fuck out of the really important things: smut. 

Smut had better be organized, at least as organized as my “visual inspirational research material” …. :)

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OP You suffer the same problem as many, many writers, aspiring and otherwise.  Myself, not so much. I rarely write down an idea the moment i have it. I like to let it rattle around in a steel cage deathmatch that is my brain for a day. The idea is that what every survives or sticks is usually the best stuff and the part of what sticks that resonates is the core you build around.

Scrivener I can say many great things about and a few not so great things about yWriter does much of what Scrivener does and is free. It even does a few things that Scrivener does not like POV charting.

 

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Since my first reply, a friend introduced me to Trello, app and site. It’s very portable, so you shouldn't lose things. It allows you to invite people to work on the board with you, so it’s great for collaborations, especially in different areas, and it has both free and paid options. Personally, I’ve been satisfied with it so far. The background image choices for the free version aren’t precisely what I want most of the time, but it’s free. All in all, I’ve found it very useful.

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