This week, the Wicked Writers team was given the task of posting on how we go about keeping our novels, notes and ideas organized. Sadly, mine is not the greatest of examples. It is more of “do as I say and not as I do” kind of thing. I learned that from dear old dad, by the way. When he wanted me off of his grass, I was told that it was his grass. When he wanted me to mow the grass, I would hear, “You need to mow the yard, son. It’s your yard too, you know”. While he was teaching me how to drive, that thinking moved to the use of the radio. “Leave the radio alone,” he would say. “It’s distracting.” When he was driving, it suddenly became, “Leave the radio alone. The radio is for the driver.”
With that in mind, please continue reading this post, but treat what is written here as if it were one of those infamous “don’t let this happen to you” Army films.
As many of you may know, it took me twenty years to write the first novel. I went through all sorts of maturation, one aspect of which was learning as I went the importance of note-taking as well as the importance of the organization of said notes. Did I take any notes during this time? Absolutely. I just couldn’t begin to recap all of that after so many years and so many changes.
I wrote two drafts of the second novel in only eight months. I can explain the note taking on that one because it happened so quickly. There was a lot less time to get it wrong. On the other hand, the only type of things that I needed help keeping track of were character traits such as what color eyes someone had or their personality quirks. Since much of my writing is simply allowing the images to appear inside my head – with me only having to write them down -, I have simply had the blessing of not needing to jot down that many notes.
See, I told you. Not the best role model, am I?
I am still a work in progress, however. I suppose that this is true for all of us. Even the established greats would probably admit this. In my case, I have only written two large works. With each one I showed remarkable growth. I moved from not giving outlining too much thought to suddenly penciling down each chapter, blow by blow. Although I marvel at those who have binders and shelves full of notes, outlines and the like, perhaps I may one day find myself there as well. I just don’t know.
Sometime this year I will begin work on the third novel in my vampire series. It is currently little more than a typed three page outline at this point, with the rest of what I foresee simply gestating inside my mind. Perhaps sometime later this year or early next I can begin revealing how much further I have matured.
Since I am in such poor shape and in desperate need of counseling, please enlighten me: How do you folks manage your writing projects? What are the big mistakes that writers make that you might be able to shed some light on? What have you learned from personal experience? I’d love to hear. Perhaps the next pupil that you will correct is me. As you can see from the photos, my notes are piled up on a shelf in my library. Heck! I don't even have a desk.